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Highlife is Ghana’s most important modern home grown dance-music that has its roots in traditional music infused with outside influences coming from Europe and the Black Americas. Although the word ‘highlife’ was not coined until the 1920s, its origins can be traced back to the local versions of regimental brass bands, ballroom orchestras and the guitar groups of West African sailors that all surfaced in the late 19th and very early 20th centuries. Highlife is, therefore, one of Africa’s earliest popular music genres. Between the 1930s and 1960s, it spread from Ghana to many West African and indeed African countries.

The book’s sixty seven chapters (including its Coda, Introduction and Prologue) trace the origins of highlife music to the present – and include information on palmwine music, adaha brass bands, concert party guitar bands and dance bands, right up to off-shoots such as Afro-rock, Afrobeat, burger highlife, Afro-reggae, gospel highlife and hiplife (i.e. hiphop highlife). There are also chapters devoted to neo-traditional drum-dance music that has been influenced by highlife; such as konkoma, simpa, kpanlogo and borborbor.

More current Ghanaian popular music genres are also covered; such as ‘jama’ hiplife, Gh rap, azonto, afrobeats, local dancehall, Afro-pop, ‘contemporary highlife’ and the ‘Sahelian sounds’ coming from northern Ghanaians.

The book also includes chapters on the traditional background or roots of highlife, the entrance of women into the Ghanaian highlife profession and the biographies of numerous Ghanaian (and some Nigerian) highlife musicians, composers and producers. It also touches on the way highlife played a role in Ghana’s independence struggle and the country’s quest for a national – and indeed Pan-African – identity.

The book mainly, but not exclusively, focuses on English-speaking West Africa and so provides information on music styles that are related to highlife, or can be treated as cousins of highlife; such as the maringa of Sierra Leone, the early ‘palmwine’ guitar styles of Liberia, the juju guitar music of Nigeria and the makossa of Cameroon. It also touches on the popular music of Togo, the Republic of Benin and the Cote d’Ivoire. Two chapters are also devoted to the West African music industry and music unions, particularly those of Ghana and Nigeria.

Available as eBook on Amazon Kindle. Launch planned for May 2018.