Osibisa was the first African band to notch up a whole series of best-selling singles and albums in the pop charts with its infectious fusion of styles referred to worldwide as criss-cross rhythms that explode with happiness.
The band was formed in the United Kingdom in 1969 by three Ghanaian musicians (Teddy Osei, Sol Amarfio and Mac Tontoh), together with three colleagues from the Caribbean (Wendel Richardson, Spartacus R and Robert Bailey) and one from Nigeria (Loughty Lasisi Amao).
They probably did not envisage that their vibrant fusion of African rhythms with Jazz, Blues, Rock, Funk, Calypso and Soul would engulf the world. But it did, establishing them in the process as one of the greatest popular music bands ever seen on earth.
Scratch Studios at East Legon in Accra, in collaboration with the Musicians Union of Ghana (MUSIGA), has lined up a series of events as part of activities to mark Osibisa’s 50th anniversary.
The activities are: Launch of Osibisa Foundation, as well as a lecture and workshop on July 2; Osibisa@50 Concert at +233 Jazz Bar & Grill, North Ridge in Accra on August 3 and Osibisa@50 celebration at the National Theatre, Accra on November 23.
Over the years, Osibisa has released several classic albums such as ‘Osibisa’, ‘Woyaya ’,’Heads’, ‘Superfly’, ‘Happy Children’, ‘Osibirock’, ‘Welcome Home’, ‘Ojah Awake’ and ‘Osee Yee’.
According to Mr Kofi Amoakohene of Scratch Studios, there would be activities around the world between August and November this year to celebrate Osibisa’s 50th anniversary and it would be a shame for Ghana to remain silent on such a monumental achievement.
“Scratch Studios has worked closely with Osibisa, especially with leader Teddy Osei, over the years and we greatly value the band’s worth in the history of popular music.
That’s why we have taken the initiative, along with MUSIGA, to remind everyone in Ghana and beyond that Osibisa is an institution worth celebrating,” Mr Amoakohene said.
Apart from the three original Ghanaian members, the band had at various times included several other Ghanaian players and offered them the opportunity too to travel the world and demonstrate Ghanaian creativity.
These other musicians include Kiki Gyan, Kari Bannerman, Emmanuel Rentzos, Kofi Ayivor, Bessa Simons, Kwame Yeboah, Paul Bilson, Frank Tontoh, Darko Potato, Victor Mensah, Joe Osei, Robert Fordjour and Herman Asafo-Agyei.
No wonder Osibisa is described in international circles sometimes as a Ghanaian band.
“What Osibisa was known for everywhere had its roots from Ghana as the band retained the Highlife influence and portrayed the country positively on its world tours,” said Paa Kwesi Holdbrook-Smith of Scratch Studios.
“It’s worth celebrating the band on its 50th anniversary because it made Ghana proud by taking progressive African music to every corner of the globe.”