- The Masterdrummer
from Ghana -
Mustapha Tettey Addy was born
in 1942 in Avenor, one of the villages in the capital city of Ghana, in
Accra. He is a member of the Ga people and he was born into a family of
well known drummers. His father, Kpani Kofi Addy, was also a highly respected
Akon priest who taught him to play the gongs at an early age. Mustapha Tettey
Addy not only learned the traditional songs and ritual dances like Kpele,
Akon and Otu, but also the meaning and the curative properties of medicinal
herbs. Both music and the cure of diseases are closely connected in Ghana.
In 1963, after his father's death,
Addy, because of his great knowledge of Ga drumming, dancing and ritual,
was appointed Dadefoiakye, a master drummer by the other members of his
family. At this time he was working at the University of Ghana as a drummer
and dancer, Mustapha Tettey Addy was given many opportunities to widen his
professional experience through touring, TV appearances etc. At the University
he also met several specialist drummers from other regions of Ghana and
began to build his comprehensive knowledge of the many drumming, dancing
and singing traditions of his country. Amongst his teachers was the great
Ewe drummer Husunui Afadi Adono Ladzekpo.
When he left the University in
1965, he began several years of travel in Ghana and neighbouring Ivory Coast
working by himself, with friends or as an guide to visiting scholars and
ethno musicologists. During these years he widened his range of skills learning
drumming techniques from Ghana as well as from Ivory Coast and Nigeria.
Apart from becoming a virtuoso performer, Addy was recognised in his country
for his important work in the preservation and development of West Africa's
rich cultural heritage. At the end of the 60's Mustapha Tettey Addy was
invited to several eastern european countries as well as visits to Western
Germany, England and the United States.
In Düsseldorf he found a new home, from where he instigated
several tours with his band 'Ehimomo'. He also built up a reputation as
a percussion teacher, conducting numerous drum workshops for beginners and
advanced scholars, thereby increasing the interest in West African percussion.
Between 1972 and 1981 Mustapha
Tettey Addy recorded seven LP's for the 'Tangent'-Label in England, for
'Arion' in France and for 'Insel Hombroich' in Germany. But the most successful
production resulted from a cooperation with 'Die Werkstatt' in Düsseldorf,
an international academy for dance and culture. Here he recorded the classic
'Come and drum' (CD WW 101-2) in a church in Düsseldorf, on one afternoon
in 1979, together with his son Abdur Rahman Kpani Addy, with jazzdrummer
Michael Küttner and percussionist Rolf Exler.
In 1982 Addy moved back to Westafrica,
where he started to collect and to arrange the Obonu music, which is rooted
in the Ashanti region. He started to work at the institute for African studies
and he travelled extensively around his country visiting various tribes
to learn about their music and ceremonies. In 1986 Addy started his new
group which was called 'The Drummers' and later ' The Obonu Drummers'.
In 1988 he moved one step further
and founded the 'Academy of African Music and Arts' (AAMA), based near Kokrobité
in the costal region of Ghana. In this picturesque clifftop location Addy
created a conceptually and architecturally unique centre.It was a place
skillfully designed to primarily preserve traditional forms of art, crafts,
dance and music. AAMA attracted many artists, musicians and teachers from
around the world as well as supporting panafrican cultural exchange and
encouraging and developing new talent. A lot of curious percussion enthusiasts
travelled to this well known place, where Mustapha Tettey Addy himself gave
concerts every Sunday afternoon.
In october 1991 Mustapha Tettey
Addy and his Obonu Drummers went into a studio in Accra to record a landmark
album in his career: 'The Royal Drums of Ghana' (CD WW 102-2) featuring
the royal music which he had collected and developed. In ordfer to do this,
Mustapha Tettey Addy had obtained the exclusive permission of the kings
and elders of the various tribes to use their big Obonu drums outside of
their ritual context. The album reveiled, for the very first time to an
international audience, "the music of 12 tribes", which is normally
played only at enthronements or funerals .
In 1992 and 1993 - ten years after his last visit to Europe,
Mustapha Tettey Addy came back with his Obonu Drummers to present the royal
rhythms to a western audience. On two extensive tours 'The Royal Drums of
Ghana' was performed in Germany,
England and the US, where they
played a string of WOMAD festivals. For a sequel to his classic 'Come and
drum' the masterdrummer also reunited with his friends Rolf Exler and Michael
Küttner in Düsseldorf. On 'Come and dance' (WeltWunder CD WW 105-2)
they explore acoustic landscapes between traditional West African percussion
and jazz-infused sound meditations.
In 1995 for two years Addy left
the Academy in Kokrobité, to concentrate on a life as a farmer. Several
attempts were made to lure him back into the spotlight until an old friend
of Mustapha's, Rikki Stein of Pan African Arts Management presented him
at the Marché des Arts et Spectacles Africains (MASA) in 1997 which
was attended by several hundred international presenters from all over the
Predictably, their performance
in Abidjan's Palais de Congrés was warmly received and plans are
now being made to tour Mustapha Tettey Addy and the new Royal Obonu Drummers
in various parts of the world during 1998/1999.
Master drummer, anthropologist
and researcher in the field of traditional music and dance, Mustapha Tettey
Addy has been at the forefront of Ghanaian musical development and innovation
for more than three decades.
With internationally released
albums, and tours and workshops carried out in Europe and the United States,
Addy is among the most respected musicians on the African Continent. In
his own words:
"The music I present stems
from a lifetime of research carried out in villages throughout Ghana and
the surrounding countries. I collect the music and arrange it in my own
style. I am not a composer. My research has shown that the cultural heritage
honed and developed over the centuries by our ancestors provides more material
than I could use in a lifetime. I therefore have no need to compose - only
to interpret in my own fashion. Also I feel a pressing need to assure that
this extraordinary body of work is preserved for posterity.
As well as being a musician, I
am a farmer, growing sweet potatoes and yellow yam. I am also interested
in natural healing, inherited from my father who was a famous medicine man.
As far as I am concerned, these three aspects of my daily activities are