Collections: Daniel Avorgbedor - The EVIA Digital Archive Project

Music of Urban Communities in Ghana and African Extensions (2000-2006)

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Women singers conclude a morning church service with traditional song and dance, Kinka, at the Apostolic Revelation Society (Church) in Accra, Ghana, 2004. Image © Daniel Avorgbedor.

This collection represents a cumulative research archive of mixed performances and general cultural traditions. Within Ghana, the video documents urban Ewe populations in Accra, urban Ewe churches with emphasis on E.P. (i.e., Evangelical Presbyterian) churches, and the late court musician, teacher, and master of the one-stringed fiddle, Mr. Salisu Mahama.

There are over 200 Ewe voluntary associations in Accra, and more than half of this number maintain active performing ensembles. The constitutions of many of these associations emphasize musical participation and list specific musical roles and positions. Ewe self-help groups are well distinguished among other urban ethnic groups in regard to the frequency and variety of music and dance practices, in space and time. Video recordings of their monthly performances and funerary celebrations make up part of this collection.

E. P. churches are now known collectively as the Global Evangelical Church, after cleavages in the 1990s. The main reason for the cleavages was the wave of charismatic renewal with its emphasis on spontaneous worship and diverse musical expressions. The orthodox and reserved branches have in recent times selectively but strategically accepted and adopted many features of the charismatic branches, which are documented here and include active, intense, and diverse forms of musical participation, often drawing on innovative, popular and revised indigenous music and dance practices.

Two separate interviews were conducted with Mr. Salisu Mahama just before his premature death in 2002. The video segments record both interview and performance sessions in which he sang, played gonje (also spelled goge, guga, etc.), and narrated his training and biographical sketch.

This collection is currently in production and is not yet available to the public.

Image © Godsway Abotsi

Daniel Avorgbedor holds a PhD from Indiana University in 1986 and is currently Associate Professor and holds a joint appointment in the School of Music and the Department of African American and African Studies at The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH. His teaching career includes the University of Ghana (Legon, 1986-1989); Bretton Hall College, Wakefield (U.K., 1989-1989); City College (New York, 1991-1994), and The Ohio State University, Columbus (1995-present). Additional professional experiences include position as Editor of Rilm Abstracts of Music Literature (New York, 1989-1994). Major publications include essays in refereed journals such as Ethnomusicology, Cahiers de musiques taditionnelles, World of Music, Oral Tradition, etc. Expert contributions for dictionaries and encyclopedias include entries on African musicians and composers in New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (2001), Encyclopedia of Shamanism, guest-edited special issue of World of Music (2003), African Folklore: An Encyclopedia (2004), and Scribner's New Dictionary of History of Ideas (2004). Major research interests include dynamics of urbanization and their impact of urban performance traditions, African continuities in the African Diaspora, contemporary church music in Africa, and cross-cultural aesthetics. Significant research grants include Wenner-Gren, H.F. Guggenheim, College of Humanities (OSU) seed grant.

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