Guy One

30/01/18Award-Winning Ghanaian Artist Releases International Debut On Berlin's Philophon Records

Berlin meet Bolgatanga on this recent release via Max Weissenfeldt's Philophon imprint, featuring Guy One. Simply entitled "#1" this is indeed a first for Guy One, "who grew up in remote northern Ghana with no schooling, spending a life herding goats, building his own instruments and teaching himself to sing". At home and in the surrounding local villages the award-winning Guy One and his Frafra music are well-adored by a "fervent following", his voice a regular at weddings and funerals as well as on TV.

Max Weissenfeldt began travelling to Ghana back in 2010, where he chanced upon a CD by Guy One and set out to find him: "Hours later the pair are driving to a funeral; the air is still warm, the metre-thick baobab trees cast shadows on the dusty fields under the shine of the moonlight. The village members are gathered between the mud huts as Guy One quietly picks up his Kologo (a sort of two-string banjo instrument that is fundamental to Frafra music). As he begins with his eulogizing voice, the village members immediately all form a huge circle around him. Witnessing this intense and potent interaction between music and community and life and death, Weissenfeldt knew he needed to get Guy One to Berlin and into a studio."

And so it ensued that in 2013 Guy One left Ghana for the very first time in his life, headed to Berlin to join Weissenfeldt and various band members and began recording an album dictated by groove, rhythm and musical intuition. In 2015 the band was invited to play the renowned Danish Roskilde Festival and a few days ago "#1" was released out into the open: "#1 is an album rooted in tradition as much as it is the contemporary but given the fact that the traditionalism of Frafra music itself is a largely unknown force, the results are more even more potent and stirring in their creations. Choirs, trumpet, organ, bass, drums, synthesiser, vibraphone, saxophone and piano, the album is as bursting with instrumentation as it is with ideas and innovation." Head over to Bandcamp and listen to Guy One's extraordinary musical journey, aka "#1". There is also a mini-series documenting life in Bolgatanga, to be found on the Philophon YouTube channel. Watch Part 1 below.

AUTHOR: Lev Nordstrom