Known as “The Golden Voice Of Africa”, Pat Thomas is a true Ghanaian highlife legend. Working with big bands including Uhuru Dance Band, Thomas became a domestic star through his ‘70s work with Sweet Beans, Ebo Taylor and Marijata. He recorded his first international studio album for Strut in 2015, backed by Accra’s Kwashibu Area Band.
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A1: ONFA NKOSI HWEE
C1: OBI NFRENO
C2: ODO ANKASA
D1: OKOMFE BONE
320 kbps, LAME-encoded
The modern-day leaders of Ghanaian highlife music are back!
Strut is proud to announce Pat Thomas & Kwashibu Area Band's sophomore release ‘Obiaa!’, released on 4th October 2019. The album, produced again by Kwame Yeboah and Ben Abarbanel-Wolff at Lovelite Studio’s analogue HQ in Berlin, is a deep and soulful journey into the heart of Ghana's indigenous highlife music celebrating the timeless and iconic voice of Pat Thomas, the 72 year-old “Golden Voice of Africa”.
After producing Ebo Taylor's seminal albums ‘Love and Death’ and ‘Appia Kwa Bridge’ for Strut Records, in 2014 Ben Abarbanel-Wolff approached Kwame Yeboah, Ghana's top contemporary instrumentalist and bandleader, to work on a new project: “We initially wanted to invite Pat back into the studio with Ebo Taylor and Tony Allen to recreate and expand on some of the vibes they had recorded together during a lost session in 1977,” Ben explains. Recorded in Accra, the result was the critically acclaimed self-titled debut album ‘Pat Thomas & Kwashibu Area Band’ in 2015.
Pat and the Kwashibu Area Band (named after Kwame's neighbourhood in Accra) hit the road in October 2015. After a memorable performance at WOMEX in Budapest, they never looked back. The next two years took them around the world to play at major venues and festivals including Glastonbury, Roskilde, WOMAD, Sakifo, WOMADelaide, Sines and many more. “We could see there was something for everyone in our music. People of all ages, colours and trends were dancing together!’ explains Kwame, the mastermind behind the band's unbelievable precision and killer live show.
The new album is called ‘Obiaa!’ which means ‘Everybody!’. Tracks include the modern parables ‘Onfa Nkosi Hwee’ warning against arrogance and ‘Odo Ankasa’ about the value of real love and trust as well as a great new cover of Thomas’ Afro-disco favourite ‘Yamona’. “Playing highlife around the world taught us what we had to do to move our sound forward”, continues Ben. While simultaneously looking back towards the classic days of highlife and forward to a fresh revival of the guitar band sound, this album cements Pat Thomas & Kwashibu Area Band’s position at the pinnacle of modern African music.
‘Obiaa!’ is released on all formats on 4th October. The album features exclusive cover artwork by Lewis Heriz with photos by Marie Weikopf and Michelle Chiu and is mastered by Édouard Bonan at Ed-Room Studio in Paris.
21.09.2019 Cross Culture Festival, Warsaw, PL
22.09.2019 La Coursive, La Rochelle, FR
26.09.2019 The Crescent, York, UK
27.09.2019 Band on the Wall, Manchester, UK
28.09.2019 Bossaphonik, The Isis Farmhouse, Oxford, UK
29.09.2019 The Jam Jar, Bristol
30.09.2019 LONDON – PR DAY
01.10.2019 Jazz Cafe, London, UK
02.10.2019 Norwich Arts Centre, Norwich UK
04.10.2019 Ubu, Rennes, FR
05.10.2019 New Morning, Paris, FR
07.10.2019 PARIS – PR DAY
08.10.2019 Schlachthof, Wiesbaden, DE
10.10.2019 YAAM, Berlin, DE
11.10.2019 BERLIN – PR DAY
12.10.2019 Alice, Copenhagen, DK
13.10.2019 Atlas, Aarhus, DK
16.10.2019 0osterport, Groningen, NL
18.10.2019 Grounds, Rotterdam, NL
19.19.2019 Paradiso, Amsterdam, NL
20.10.2019 Doornrosje, Nijmegen, NL
25.10.2019 Biko, Milan, IT
26.10.2019 Moods, Zurich, CH
Digital Track List
Pat Thomas & Kwashibu Area Band
Pat Thomas & Kwashibu Area Band
Growing up with music around him (“my uncle, King Onyina, was an important highlife musician”), Thomas was inspired to become a singer after hearing vocalist Joss Aikins: “He sang with Broadway Dance Band and Decca in Ghana chose him to sing with any group that came into their studios.”
When a new incarnation of Broadway Dance Band was created in ‘67, led by Ebo Taylor, Thomas received his first big break. “Ebo started to write new songs. I added the lyrics and sang them and it worked well.” The partnership with Taylor would become one of the enduring forces in Ghanaian music during the ‘70s, creating a fresh, progressive new highlife sound. They played with the Blue Monks band before, in 1974, forming Sweet Beans with the backing of Ghana’s Cocoa Marketing Board: “The album, ‘False Lover’, was the first under my own name and my first for Gapophone,” Pat reflects. “Reggae was “on” at that time - Jimmy Cliff was the guy - so I tried reggae fusions and brought in some soul.”
The album established Thomas across Ghana. Sweet Beans disbanded but the musicians stayed together as Marijata. “The guys initially used Jewel Ackah as their vocalist but they involved me and I re-vocalled the album. This became the ‘Pat Thomas Introduces Marijata’ LP. At that time, I would go to George Prah at Gapophone to ask for money and he would say, ‘if you want me to pay you, go and write a song!’ So, tracks like ‘Coming Home’ came about that way, written on the spot.” A second Marijata album followed before a damaging coup in Ghana in 1979. “Jerry Rawlings’ “house-cleaning” was designed to stop corruption but it seriously damaged our country’s music culture.”
Thomas left for Berlin and stayed true to his highlife roots, becoming the first Ghanaian to record highlife there. “In Ghana, people ex-pats living in Germany called themselves ‘burgers’, so the scene became ‘burger highlife’.” Thomas travelled to Togo and London, before settling in Canada: “I ended up there for ten years playing for universities, Ghanaian societies and festivals.”
Pat is now back with Kwashibu Area Band and touring worldwide: “Today, highlife has become the world's music and I am proud to still bring it to so many people.”