The audience exchanged glances and wondered who he was when unannounced, a bespetacled man sporting a Fez cap and in a jacket over what looked like a wrap-around skirt walked onto the stage in the middle of Bob Fiscian’s set at the Made In Germany II concert at the National Theatre on March 8.
He warmly sang two songs with Bob, backed by the Systhm Band. Appreciable applause followed after that and the man was about to walk off stage before Master of Ceremony, Fritz Baffour said the songs were titled Ocean Wind and Otin Kala and that the singer was Albert Jones.
The name still didn’t ring a bell but Fiscian, Baffour and the other acts on the bill at the concert to celebrate Burger highlife knew Albert Jones way back from the 1970s when he sang for the Los Americanos, Plastic Jims, Heartbeats and Freedom Family bands before going to live and work in Germany 30 years ago.
One of the groups he sang for there, Soyaya, recorded and released Ocean Wind and Otin Kala in 1995 in Germany and other parts of Europe. Fiscian composed the music whilst Albert wrote the lyrics for the songs which were not released in Ghana.
“Some European diplomats at the concert who knew the songs approached me for copies. Ocean Wind, with its South African kwela flavour, was used as a theme song in a German soap opera called Good Times, Bad Times from 1995 to 1997. I also performed it at functions in America and on radio stations in France so it is fairly known out there,” Albert told Showbiz.
He spends more time these days in Ghana than in Germany and is looking to start a club in Accra for live music because he sincerely believes nothing beats live music.
“Every great African musician plays live. Yuossour N’Dour, Salif Keita, Angelique Kidjo and the rest would not be where they are without live music. Everyone who can make a contribution must help bring it back here.”
Albert released Ayelevi in 1992 and Hip Hop Ashanti in 2000. He is working on new material which he hopes would make him better known here and across Africa.