Biography of Kojo Ashakan
Kojo Ashakan was born in Ashanti New Town, a suburb of Kumasi/Ghana and is such a musician who sings brilliantly in Twi, English and Hebrew.
Most of his immediate family members were established musicians in the sixties and seventies. Kwadwo Yawnkyira was the name given to him by his parents at birth.
In the side of his Christian background the parents once again gave him an English name Tommy. Boy Tommy became the usual name everyone was calling him. He started singing as soon as he could talk. Kojo was well admired by the community with his unique voice and unquestionably musical talents that everyone loves to hear him sing at that tender age.
As music was not well encouraged during that time, Kojo used to make a guitar and a microphone for himself out of a sardine tin, adding the usual block of wood or cassava sticks and anything that he can pretty to make a sound of.
At school during break and lunch times he normally gather most of his mates and sang for them. His uncle, Kwaku Appauh Bright, a gospel musician, who made a huge hit with a gospel tune ”KEA NO DAE” in 1980 will occationally come and tap him on the shoulders and lift his spirit up.
Hilife music in Ghana during that time was very popular. Kojo was then growing up and so was reggae music although he had some of his favorite musicians in Ghana, most of his mentors were Jamaican musicians, like Jimmy Cliff, Bob Marley, Burning Spear, Peter Tosh and others.
Kojo was too good that he could listen to any new song and sang it in some few days after. Many people liked his voice so much; that they normally buy him sweet thinks to sing for them.
After completing his school, his love for music took him straight to work as an apprentice at “Owusu Twumasi Electrical Company”, which is now OTEC FM and he learned speaker rewinding for four years.
In 1983 he left the coast of Ghana to Israel, via Italy and the UK. He was in London for a short time and came into contact with some Caribbean music lovers and normally jammed them, many did advised him not to waste his talent, but rather work hard to be a professional musician.
In Israel, he took a private lesson and did learn how to play a keyboard. Kojo usually jammed with musicians he would come across with, and it was one of these jam sessions that he was ask to join his first group “TODAA” meaning, thank you in Hebrew.
Kojo took some Hebrew lessons and when his Hebrew was good enough, he became the lead singer for his second group ”Natty Know”. In 1989 Kojo wrote some few songs and migrated to Australia towards the end of the year.
The second week of his arrival in Sydney, without any rehearsals, Kojo was on stage with his first band in Australia “NA WHOM”. The group, which was made up of three Ghanaians, two Australians and a Fijian. Paddinton town hall was the place where the usual African night was held. Kojo performed so brilliantly that night, that every Reggae band in Sydney wanted him as their lead singer.
Haven been told that “Sam Derchie”, a Ghanaian keyboard player, formerly of “African Brothers” was in Sydney, Kojo located him and discussed with him about recording.
He worked with bands like “Mataqali Music”, an award winning Reggae band in Sydney 1987, “Atlas Sounds”, “Klub Hilife”, ”Sam Derchies” Band etc.
By late 1990 Kojo had finished recording his first album “Sika Ye Bonsam” and came to release it in Ghana in June 1991 under his nick name “Boy Tommy”. The album created a very ferrous debate regarding money matters as “Pat Thomas” and “Daddy Lumba” had released that same year “Sika Ye Mogya” and “Sika Asem” respectivly. Therefore it was a great impact on the side of Kojo that he made in the local scene.
Kojo left for Holland towards the end of the year, where he met and shared musical ideas with some Ghanaians bass musicians like ”Nana Aboagye Dacosta”. On his return to Australia he played with all bands like before and later formed his own group ”Boy Tommy and the Ashakans”.
The idea was to play only original music as most groups were doing covers. Within a year the band was accepted and was receiving an enthusiastic response from all angles. In the middle of 1993 the “Ashakans” as they later became, were booked to support ”Kanda Bongo Man” internationally acclaimed musician from the republic of Congo formerly Zaire.
Towards the end of November in that same year, the first ever-African festival “OSIBI” was held in Canberra the Australian capital and sponsored by the Australian government.
Many local and international bands were invited to perform. The festival was to last for three days and the “Ashakans” were giving the first two days to perform. However, their performance was marvelously that the audience demanded more of the band.
Therefor the organizers approached Kojo and asked him to perform the last day in addition. And, oh men, like they say in Twi “ese wo ani” -you have seen it-.
The following year came South African reggae star “Lucky Duby” and the “Ashakans” supported him. Where his performance was equally good that many started to call him “Sydney Lucky Duby”.
As reggae music was getting more popular in Sydney an agent approached him to do a tribute show of Bob Marley. In order to get more work, Kojo accepted the offer and started a second band “Ashakan presents Marley Music”.
Kojo developed interest in music engineering this time and decided to enroll at a music college “Creative Option” where these subjects were offered, Instrumental and Vocal performance, Drama, Music Theatre, Audio technology, Arts & Entertainment Management, Studio Teaching and Music Composition
After completing his studies, Kojo graduated with an advance certificate in music and did set-up a midi studio where he recorded his second album “Ghana Ababaawa Ahoofe”. It was a killer, great lyrics which touches everyone who listens to it.
By this time, the name Ashakan which Kojo had adopted from the Twi word Asakan, was what most of his close friends were calling him. After much soul searching he decided to use his birth given name Kojo Yawnkyira for the album. So in 1996 he released his second album under the name Kojo Ashakan alias ”Boy Tommy”.
While in Ghana to promote the album, he made friends with some local musicians like Tommy Wiredu, Mensha Poso, Dada K D, Papa Shee, Nana Tabi and many others. After ten months in Ghana, Kojo went back to Sydney and started working on his third album “Cedi Na Egye, Apem pe”.
The album was released through Mega Star in the mid 1999 and placed first on the chart show within weeks of its release. It was this album, which brought Kojo to the lam light. The music went number one on the charts for 13 weeks.
Great lyrics, a blend of modern hilife and reggae rhythms ”Cedi Na Egye” became a very big issue for debate, talks on radio and other TV shows like Concert Parties, where money matters between Ghanaian Woman and Men were vigorously debated.
The Ghanaian music over the last ten to fifteen years has in so many ways changed, yet Kojo has not drifted from the roots. The new album “Mensa Ato Bi So” 2002 has hit the airwaves in Ghana and is already on the charts and a huge demand for it.
Kojo kept the African style with a bit of western feels. Creative blend of reggae, hilife, hiplife and hiphop music. The songs are catchy, sweet melodies and exciting blend of different rhythms.
During one of his radio interviews in Australia, Kojo was asked, what make your music so good and hot. He answered: “I man come from de hottest continent a on de earth and I man music is just as that”