Sadly only very few women have engaged in west african highlife music production. If they do participate, its mostly as a background singer. They are rarely seen playing an instrument, leading a band or singing the as the lead Vocalist. It seemed the Highlife buisness was a totally male dominated scene.
But there are a few records I know where women are the lead and they are mostly exceptional great and unique. My two favourites are from Nigeria: Christy Ogbah and Christy Omon Ukpebor – very funky with a strong, hypnotic voice.
The Sleeves are as often special, I like the ruff collage techniques and the graphics from the Ogbah backside. The back of Christy Omon definetly tells that she is the most important person in the squad.
Oyomon Ale – Christy Ogbah & Her Melody Group, 1978, Mosokam Records, MOSLP 1002
Ebenitye – Christy Omon Ukpebor And Her Melody Makers Of Igueben, Brother Momoh Inter. , BMI 023
Two of the best highlife dancing tracks ever are released on these LP´s. When I play them on dancing venues they always burn the floor.
“Si No Pi” was posted by GlobalGroove 5 days ago, you can enjoy it on this great blog. There is also some information about the lyrics/music in the comments. “W´adaadaa Me” as far as I know is not listenable on the net until today. From this record I will play for you “Dabi Wo Bekae Me”.
Both record covers also have a great graphic design. I like the clear style in which this proud woman was designed, it reminds me on intaglio printmaking techniques. This sharpness is supported by the plain-colored background and together with the simple graphic elements it produces in either cases a deep space behind the woman.
Above a very unusual Okukuseku Cover, it reminds me on some Fela Kuti Covers – a dense kind of storytelling.
Most of the Okukuseku Covers I know are based on a portrait (painted of photographed) of it´s bandleader Kofi Sammy – like the record below. It´s one of their first LP´s and produced in Ghana. I like the way how Kofi Sammy in his cool dress is moving, turning and melting together with the background. His expression is an exciting mixture of being very aware and scared at the same time.
B2 “Papa Ye Asa” from LPEX 001, Executive / Ambassador Records