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Atongo Zimba Finds Fame

2005-02-11 16:59:12
This article has been read 1203 times.

Atongo Zimba
Everyone who saw Atongo Zimba perform at his favourite two-string molo, last Tuesday at Accra’s Jazz Optimist Club must have gone home with good memories of the musician and perhaps the question: Atongo Who?

Last Tuesday at the Jazz Optimist Club, Accra, Atongo launched his third and most promising album to enormous applause. Dressed in a two-piece traditional wear, Atongo, filled the cool night breeze with loud and yet captivating rhythms from his band as he sang passionate frafra tunes from Savannah Breeze, the title of his album.

His audiences were mostly foreigners who appreciated good African music. There were Canadians, there were Jamaicans, Americans as well as a few Ghanaians with good taste for African traditional music.

Atongo’s performance was backed by five young girls who made good use of the strong Afro rhythms that came from the combination of traditional and western instruments.

The dancers, flexible as they were, shook their backsides while making sensual and also very conscious movements with their waists for Atongo’s guests.

As he performed, the heads of most foreigners could be seen nodding to the great African rhythms that vibrated from the loudspeakers. Others could be seen rocking themselves in their seats as they soaked in the good tunes that Atongo produced from his ‘Savannah Breeze’ album.

Singing in his usual raw and unique rough voice, Atongo sang ‘Bedi Bedi’ which means ‘Stop Stop’ as well as ‘Gidi Gidi’ which also means ‘Careless’. Atongo also performed for the first time with Prof. John Collins who had contributed one of his compositions to Atongo’s album.

In addition to Atongo guests that had gathered at the Jazz Optimist Club were treated to some good highlife songs. King Ayisoba was there with his group and they had the guests smiling to his songs.

Speaking with Nana Danso Abiam of the Pan African Orchestra, he said that listening to Atongo’s ‘Savannah Breeze’ was very interesting. He said, “It is amazing how he has successfully fused traditional indigenous beats and instruments with modern ones to come up with such a good production. This makes it very attractive”.

Mac Tontoh couldn’t help but admit how proud he was of Atongo Zimba. He said he still remembered Atongo Zimba when he came to lodge with him all the way from the North with strong zeal to make it in music. “The only problem is that although there are a lot of Ghanaians who would love to listen to such good African songs, our radio stations do not play the. They are not even aware of the existence of such music on the market”, he said.

Juliet, a Canadian who was also seen dancing throughout the entire show told Showbiz that Atongo’s music was her kind of music. “You know, there is something about the music, it just makes me want to dance. I’m certainly going to buy one of the albums for myself and some for my friends”, she said.

Earlier in an interview with Showbiz, Atongo talked about some difficulties that he went through as a young boy when he discovered he had the flair for singing good traditional music.

“When I started singing at market places, I received all sorts of unpleasant remarks. Some even described me as a lazy but strong energetic guy who did not want to use his energy to work. But this did not stop me from making good use of my talent”, he said. His passion to become one of the greatest musicians had him touring along the coastal part of Africa and finally landed him in Lagos.

There, he settled at a spot very close to the shrine of Fela Kuti where he was later discovered by some disciples of Fela Kuti who alerted his presence to their master Fela.

His meeting with Fela in Lagos accorded him the chance to earn a dollar each night by playing his solo music as a stage opener on weekends at various musical shows organized in Nigeria.

Back in Ghana, after a year and a half stay in Lagos he performed at the Pan African Festival of Arts and Culture (PANAFEST) with Manu Dibango, Hugh Masekela, Francis Fuster, Angelique Kidjo and some other world known musicians.

‘Savannah Breeze’ is recorded under the record label of Hipo Records and produced by Rob Bierrings.


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