Kwadwo Donkor: Highlife diplomat

Kwadwo Donkor was born in Ashanti in 1934 and attended Cape Coast’s prestigious Mfantsipim schools where, incidentally, he was Kofi Annan’s house-prefect. Between 1956-59 he studied history at the University of Ghana and was encouraged to use his piano skills for highIife by a group of university lecturers, which had formed the Achimota African Music Society (J.H.K. Nketia, Robert Sprigge, Ephraim Amu, and E.F. Collins).
As a pianist and highIife composer, Kwadwo Donkor, produced 20 albums 48 and numerous singles since 1958 with his APEMCO recording label and J\BJBIRAM publishing company.
From 1958 Kwadwo branched out into producing singles by guitar bands, such as E.K Nyame, Kwabina Okai, the Kumasi Youngsters and Kofi Djan, and by swing-jazz and calypso-influenced big bands ofE. T.Mensah’s Tempos and King Bruce’s Black Beats, – and Uhuru, with whom he later released a full album of his own compositions entitled ‘Big Sounds of Africa’.
Kwadwo produced and composed music as well as maintained a full-time career in the Ghanaian diplomatic service.
In the 1970s Kwadwo produced a live album of the 1972 National Brass Band Competition, released albums for the Ogyataana Band (including Obra Mu M’Asem) and a piano medley called ‘Ray Ellis Plays Highlife’.
During this period, Kwadwo also produced’ Ga Cultural Groups’ that played Ga folk tunes and local Accra street highlife. One was Wulomei, which he helped discover (with Saka Acquaye) and released its album ‘Walatu Walasa’; another was Dzadzeloi and its ‘Two Paddy Follow One Girl’ hit. He also used Uhuru to back flautist Oscar Sulley Braima with singer Eddie Ntreli in an Afro-beat/rock album entitled Oscar Sulley and the
N’zele Afrikana.
By the mid 1980s, Kwadwo set up his Abokyi Parts highlife dance band, which has made three albums. In 2000 Kwadwo became a Trustee of the newly-established Ghana Association of Phonographic Industries.

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