Konimo

Biography by

b. Daniel Amponsah, 1935, Fuase, Ghana. Born in the Ashante region of Ghana, vocalist and acoustic guitarist Konimo has devoted his career to preserving Ghana’s rich heritage of traditional guitar-based…
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Artist Biography by

b. Daniel Amponsah, 1935, Fuase, Ghana. Born in the Ashante region of Ghana, vocalist and acoustic guitarist Konimo has devoted his career to preserving Ghana’s rich heritage of traditional guitar-based music. His training began at an early age from his father, who was a trumpeter and guitarist, and his mother, who was a chorister in the local Methodist church. At high school, he additionally learned to play the church organ. In 1954, he joined I.E.’s Band, who that year enjoyed a big local hit with ‘Go Inside’. The following year, he was with the Antobre Guitar Band in Kumasi and began playing in the traditional single-string, rather than chordal, style that he has remained with throughout subsequent decades. In 1962, he left for the UK, where he studied science technology and took guitar lessons from the father of the classical guitarist John Williams. Returning to Ghana in 1965, he recorded with Dr. K. Gyasi And His Noble Kings. In 1968, Konimo released his first album, Asante Ballads, a collection of traditional Ashante folk songs with the lyrics translated into English. In 1969, he returned to the UK for further study, attending the Manchester School of Music and developing an interest in jazz. Back in Ghana in 1977, he released the classic album Odonsan Nkoro. With the massive import of Western music into Ghana, Konimo’s crusade to keep the younger generation in touch with their roots had added urgency. He continues to perform regularly with his percussion and choral group Adadam Agormomma (‘roots ensemble’) at festivals and concerts featuring younger, electric bands. He also trained the highlife guitarist George Darko, who was brought to his house to learn the traditions of Ghanaian roots music by his parents. In the 80s Konimo travelled abroad for live performances with his band (now including his son, Little Noah as well as long-standing accompanist Kofi Twumasi), playing a prestigious Broadway show. Despite this, his recorded output remains disappointingly sparse.