Biography: King Ayisoba (Accra, Ghana) – singer / kologo player

Biography: King Ayisoba (Accra, Ghana) – singer / kologo player
King Ayisoba was born in 1974 in Bongo Soe, Bongo area, Upper East Region, Ghana, near
Bolgatanga. He grew up in a small village and as a boy he always had his kologo with him
whenever he took the family sheep and cattle out to graze. He played at markets, local bars and
funerals until he was old enough to leave the region and try his songs on the people in big cities
like Kumasi and Accra.
A useful musical collaboration started between him and the late Terry Bonchaka, a hip life artist
from Accra. Bonchaka's early death was a big setback to King Ayisoba but linking up with
recording engineer and music producer Panji Anoff turned his fortunes around. The work of the two
resulted in a first cassette and cd in 2006 called “Modern Ghanaians”. It contains songs with the
flavor and spice of the modern hip life mixed with Ayisoba’s traditional style. The single “I want to
see you my father” became a huge hit and in 2007 King Ayisoba was crowned the king in the
Ghana Music Awards Festival held at the national theatre as part of Ghana's 50th anniversary
In 2008 “Africa”, King Ayisoba’s second album was released on Panji Anoff’s Pidgen Music label.
Again a mix of electronic beat driven tracks and traditional style songs like the hit “The whole
world”. In 2005 King Ayisoba was invited for a project in Chicago, USA and since 2009 King
Ayisoba has been a regular seen artist in Europe. He was invited by the Sababas project from
Denmark and played on the Womex festival caravan. The following years he returned to Denmark
and also played in Germany and Switzerland. In 2012 King Ayisoba joined Dutch artist Zea on a
tour through the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Switzerland and Germany and at the end of that
tour the plan was made to release an LP with Ayisoba’s best songs, called “Modern Ghanaians”. In
December 2012 King Ayisoba was nominated in the category best traditional song at the Okura
African Music Awards in Abudjan, Cote d’Ivoire. In March 2013 King Ayisoba made his entrance in
Russia and in May 2013 King Ayisoba returned to Europe with his own band from Ghana to
promote the release of this album, on Zea’s own Makkum records (MR 8) and to let as many
people as possible hear the kologo music from Northern Ghana. The compilation received raving
reviews all over Europe. What followed was a large tour or more than forty concerts along festivals
and venues in Denmark, Sweden, The Netherlands, Belgium, France, Spain, Switzerland,
Germany and Czech Republic. And King Ayisoba left the people wanting more. So the plans for
2014 are already in the making; King Ayisoba will return with a full band of musicians and dancers.
Band members:
King Ayisoba - Kologo player, singer
Abaadongo Adontanga – dancer and dorgo player
Ayuune Sulley - kale bas, singing, backing, kologo player
Asaana Eba – backing singer, dancer and kologo player
Maxwell Dagaati – xylophone
Gemeka Akligilalatanda – guluku drums
Press quotes:
“Hypnotic and bouncing melodies on the kologo from a man who has a story to tell.”
(Leendert van der Valk in NRC, Dutch national newspaper, March 2013)
“Ayisoba seems comfortable in either set of clothes, willing to play both the traditional
artist and the musician immersing himself in the 21st century.”
(Nigel Tassel in Songlines, July 2013)
“Extrem eingängig, äußerst tanzbar, handwerklich unglaublich gut, gleichermaßen ganz im Jetzt
und ganz in der Zeitlosigkeit verankert. Ich habe es sehr genossen.
(Steffen Greiner in Echoes, March 2013)
Contact: Makkum Records / Arnold de Boer - Amstelveenseweg 241 - 3 1076CP Amsterdam - Netherlands
tel. +31614188697 / +31206406989 [email protected] [email protected]
In this interview King Ayisoba is talking about his past, his music and his inspiration:
“Kologo music is about our grand grand fathers. My grand father played kologo, he was a
kologo player, and he died. They put his kologo in a room. When, as a small child of about three
years old, I saw this kologo, I started crying. So my father made me a small kologo. I started
playing and I did not cry again. When I was a few years older I used to herd the cows and take
them to the bush. Then I used to play kologo and follow the cows. And I told my father I want to
take the kologo and go and play in the market. And my father said no. He wanted me to go to
school. And I told my father I think that I can not go to school, I need to play this kologo.”
“Kai kai” means “everything is finished”, “Yabaa mowaa” means “our grandfathers are gone
but they are still here”. “Jannawaa, ban guawaa” stands for “we should not throw our tradition
away, we have to keep our tradition, and let the spirit hold us.” “Kologo music is a spiritual music.
You can learn and know how to play the instrument, but the voice, the singing and the spirit
entering you, are a gift. I will always call the spirits when I play the kologo, I will always call upon
them when I play and the spirits will follow me wherever I go. Everything I do with the kologo
comes from the spirits. The power behind the kologo is all from the spirits and home. If you travel
and you don’t go back to your roots, you loose the spirits contact. You have to go back home for
the spirits to see you. Wherever you come from there are spirits that guide you. And you always
have to acknowledge them for your work to be successful. That is why I sit here today and tell what
they have done. For the whole world to hear.”
“I sing myself large. I don’t know what I will see, I preach, I tell life stories, what happened, and
what do people forget. I am wearing traditional Ghana cloth and sandals. I want to keep the
tradition. If you throw the traditional away, the small children will not learn it. I take the kologo and
let Ghana know, see Ghana we have our tradition, we have the kologo. I played the song Modern
Ghanaians already a long time ago. It means that now we are modern. But if I sing Modern
Ghanaians it does not mean I throw my tradition away, but it means I am a modern Ghanaian
Contact: Makkum Records / Arnold de Boer - Amstelveenseweg 241 - 3 1076CP Amsterdam - Netherlands
tel. +31614188697 / +31206406989 [email protected] [email protected]