The club of 8 Ghanaian stars to have entered Billboard Chart

By Nasiba Yakubu
Despite the gloomy commentary Ghanaian music receives, there are twinkle, twinkle little Ghanaian stars in the global music sky that must leave us with satisfaction that Ghana is doing something right to keep the global night bright.

Ghanaian artistes and their counterparts in the diaspora have made impressive strides with their unique talents over the years.

The constant growth witnessed in the industry has pushed Ghanaian music unto one of the world’s renowned music grading charts, The Billboard Charts.

The Billboard charts is a platform which tabulates the relative weekly popularity of music in the United States and other parts of the world.

It may be a small number but these eight Ghanaian acts that have debuted in the charts…OsibisaThe first act to make it to the chart was Osibisa, the pioneers of Afrobeat music.It was and still is quite a feat for a group whose genre of music was not widely known to make it unto the charts seven times in a row including twice in 1971 and 1973.

Image: Osibisa

The first appearance was in 1971 with their album “Osibisa”. It entered the Billboard Hot 200 at number 105. The self-titled album climbed the charts and ended up at number 55.

“Osibisa” introduced the world to the group and the powerful Afrobeat music.

The songs on the album, although mainly instrumental, showcased the exceptional prowess of the group when it comes to handling their instruments including saxophone, trumpet, drums, flute, guitars as well as how they used their very distinct vocals.

“Woyaya” followed in 1972 again. The song peaked at number 66 on the Billboard chart. This song, till today, is played and loved by many.

The lyrics “It will be hard we know, and the road will be muddy and rough, but we’ll get there” is relatable to religious believers who are holding their faith albeit the difficulty, people who lost loved ones and are trying to get through it and people who are going through tough times.

Basically, everyone, one way or the other found themselves realting passionately with the words while believing in the hope that it projected, “heaven knows where we are going”.

Woyaya” is also the title of Osibisa’s second studio album.

Some songs in this album had clear Ghanaian traditional sounds mixed with western instruments to create the piece of art that is Afrobeat which, unknown to them then, would be widely used across Africa and the world years after it had debuted.

In 1972, Osibisa made an appearance on the charts again with their third studio album “Heads”. The album reached 125 on the charts.

The nine-track album did not only have more but also more of the Ghanaian language Twi representing in songs like “Krokrokoo”, “Mentumi” and “Yie Tie Wo”.

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One thought on “The club of 8 Ghanaian stars to have entered Billboard Chart”

  1. Dear Ms. Yakubu,
    I am an African American, born and raised in the USA. One of my all time favorite recordings is Osibisa’s Mentumi. Even without understanding the lyrics, I felt moved by the song. In the 1980’s, I shared the song with a close friend/mentor from Ghana and had an opportunity to hear the meaning of the song as he excitedly and dramatically translated parts of the song. I regret that I didn’t write down a translation at the time. Do you know where I might find lyrics for Mentumi — in Twi and, possibly, with translation into English?

    Sincerely,
    John B.

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