While doing the research for the Hip Deep program “Ebo Taylor and the Pioneers of Afro-Funk,” producer Banning Eyre realized that there was another story bubbling under the surface of 1960’s Accra, one that would not fully bear fruit until the beginning of the next decade. Along with the Afro-Funk being developed by Ebo and his cohorts, 1960’s Ghana was (unsurprisingly) under the spell of the genre’s American high priest- James Brown. Brown’s influence was particularly strong on a generation of young Ghanaian musicians that included both Fela Kuti, and Geraldo Pino, a singer from Sierra Leone. Pino in particular would take Brown’s notoreity to the bank, developing a powerful sound (and a stage show to match) that relied heavily on the style of the American funk icon.
At the same time, Fela- struggling to establish his band in Nigeria, decided to come to Ghana in search of greener musical pastures. The two men met and- unlike the depiction of their relationship in the Broadway show “Fela!”- became friends and mutual admirers. While Fela would eventually turn in his own, increasingly political, direction, the musicians he was exposed to during this period would remain a lasting influence.
Want to hear the whole story, as told by those who were there? Give it a listen.