What to expect at an Okaidja Afroso concert
Okaidja Afroso’s goal is simple: educate people on the music of Ghana while giving them an entertaining and beautiful show of his culture. Born into a family of musicians and storytellers, Okaidja first began performing as a dancer, but quickly expanded his talents to include singing, playing a wide variety of instruments, and using vocal instrumentation. He moved from Ghana to the United States in 1999, and he uses his music to represent his culture as he tours the country and shares his passion.
Okaidja promises that people will get a unique mix of education and entertainment at his concerts that is hard to find elsewhere. “In the US now, it’s very rare to see Ghanaian music. There are not a lot of performers doing what I do, so it’s very refreshing.” He often improvises on new instruments, and he likes to leave his set list open-ended. Sometimes he gets on stage and adapts his plan to fit the audience: “A lot of times I don’t even know what I am going to play as a first song. I have a list, but I get on stage and I think ‘OK, I think this song will work well with this audience.’” Concertgoers can count on getting a special evening of artistry that cannot be imitated.
Okaidja also likes to interact with his audience, and always leaves time for questions at the end of the concert. “It’s really down to earth, and the biggest goal for us is to connect with the audience,” Okaidja says of him and his band. Audience members are encouraged to ask about the music, and Okaidja often lets attendees handle the instruments for themselves.
Many of Okaidja’s songs are sung in Ga, a language native to Ghana, and he also incorporates tongue clicking techniques originating from South Africa. This is typical of Okaidja, who prides himself on using a wide variety of instruments and being adaptable: “Anything can be an instrument, especially for percussion. Other people say ‘Oh I don’t have that drum,’ but you can use anything.” Being adaptable helps Okaidja create an experience that is unparalleled and dynamic. Come for the music, the dancing, or the interactive experience, but stay for the broad educational experience. “What makes my show unique is that I combine all areas, and I do it all. I’m not tied to one instrument or talent.”
Okaidja Afroso will perform at Gesa Power House Theatre this Friday, May 4, at 7:00 p.m. Reserved seating tickets are available online or by calling the box office at 509-529-6500. Student and group discounts are available.
(interview and blog post by Mason Neil)