I started a discussion on my social media pages a few days ago on what I find to be the irritating ways quite a number of artists perform to us after we pay so much and they in turn charge so much. In my candid opinion, Ghana lacks true entertainers. I dare say we don’t have smart, creative artists able to use what they have to turn concerts to the truly entertainment events they were scheduled to be.
As I had said then, I do not understand why our artists do not INVEST in their stagecraft? They are supposed to be ENTERTAINERS. So why should people go to a concert and the artist comes up to play his or her CD and mime to them? If the audience wanted to listen to the CD I guess they would all have stayed home and put the CD on replay. I have been to a number of concerts over the past few years and the trend has been that we have the songs of artists blazing from very very loud speakers and they just pretend to be singing. There are even occasions where microphones are off and audiences are fooled by these guys because they feel they are top dumb to notice or their sheer presence on stage makes do for whatever they can’t do.
It seems that as far as these guys are concerned, dropping one hit song is all that matters. But then it is not. Even after some have successfully produced a string of hits, like Guru, they still fail to learn and continue the entertainment duties they have taken upon themselves outside the comfort of their studios.
Yes make a hit, but most importantly when you have an audience before you perform to them and learn how to connect with them.
With the exception of folks like Stonebwoy, Sarkodie, Samini, Kwabena Kwabena, Manifest, Kontihene and the hilife folks, the rest just don’t bring anything to a concert. What’s even more embarrassing is when they pretend to be singing the parts of their songs they have featured people we all know.
Samini will always push for a live band performance. If he doesn’t get that what he has done (an act Stonebwoy has also learned and virtually perfected) is to produce an instrumental version of his songs and then sings to it. He doesn’t mime. Samini has that extra bit of talent where he literally creates music during live shows based on what he sees in the auditorium. He performs. He doesn’t believe that merely been on stage should be enough for his fans.
Stonebwoy has grown up beautifully as an artist and he knows how to use his DJ in a sweet way and whenever he says ‘balance’ the DJ knows what to do. The last 3 shows I have seen him on I didn’t see a band but I saw a young man performing to entertain. A man singing his songs and connecting with his audience.
Okyeame Kwame has proven with the continuation of his Versatile Show that he is a performer. Manifest is perhaps the only Ghanaian artist who truly performs to an international audience. May I explain this; during his recent tour to Europe, he performed to audiences that were not 90% Ghanaian. I am sorry but when an artist goes to London and performs before a 95% Ghanaian audience (yes they may be carrying British passports but you and I know they are called Yaw and Kwame and Kofi and Kwaku and Ama and Afia and Yaa and Maame something or Nana something) that doesn’t necessarily fall under the international category. But Manifest does. Few times I have seen him perform he connects with his audience.
There are lots of things people like Guru and Shata Wale and so many of them can learn from their truly entertaining colleagues. Yes folks, Shata Wale is not a performer despite his many hits. The only creative thing he does is how he emerges on a stage. At a recent concert he came on in a unique way and after miming two songs it was obvious he was out of breathe already. Indeed, half the audience left before he sang his 5th song. Shata Wale has a following – the type who can sing every song he has ever done including the commercially unsuccessful ones – but he has still not learnt the art of performing to entertain.
Hopefully at some point event organisers will use LIVE performance and stagecraft as a yardstick for inviting them to shows. May be it’s about time that happens so those who think miming is all it takes will sit up. We always want to believe that we have arrived but chale we are very far away from that. I remember when Ludacris came to Ghana all he had was was a DJ and a hype man. But we saw him truly perform. He didn’t start a song and asked his DJ to move to track 3 after 30 seconds. Chris Brown came to Ghana to entertain us. You may say but that is Chris Brown and I will say to you ‘didn’t we say we want to go international? ‘.
This ain’t hating. Our artists have started charging a lot for appearances and it’s about time they lived up to the cash they take. If you are based here in Ghana and you call yourself an artist and you know you have have a show you have charged organizers for and you know your fans or people will attend and you can’t prepare to deliver a performance they will remember you with. As a performer you should be able to use whatever is available to you to deliver an entertaining spectre your fans will love.
May be we the audience haven’t demanded enough from these guys. May be we have not made it clear how boring it is to hear ‘pull up DJ, track 3’. May be we haven’t quite drummed home that message yet.