Phillipa Baafi in trouble
Phillipa Baafi, one of Ghana’s most prolific and popular gospel artistes, is mired in a hell of difficulty as she tries to propagate the gospel of peace in the run-up to the December general elections.
Fondly described as the lady with a powerful voice by her admirers, Phillipa, who sings to up-lift the souls of the crest-fallen, last week embarked on a nationwide tour to sensitize Ghanaians on the need to uphold the relative peace and stability they are enjoying now, during and after the polls.
She disclosed the trouble that she had plunged herself into as she chatted with The Saturday Statesman, “This peace awareness tour has been the shock of my life; I am so surprised at the turn-out.
Both young and old crowd on me to hear what I have to say. At Sunyani in the Brong Ahafo Region, it was massive, not to talk of Kumasi, the Ashanti Regional capital.The whole community was so crowded that I couldn’t even get a place to stand. It was extremely difficult for me to move my car anywhere I went. I find myself in trouble, but I think the message is really getting into people’s heads, and I thank God for that”.
The tour began in the Brong Ahafo and Ashanti Regions and will proceed to Ho in the Volta Region on 23 August, 2008. She was accompanied by gospel artistes like Gifty Osie, Ernest Opoku, Moses Ok, Celestine Donkor, the popular group called, Daughters of Glorious Jesus among others.
Phillipa Baafi said the performances she and her colleague gospel singers put up at public gatherings were simply splendid.
She was fully convinced that this year’s elections are going to be peaceful, viewed from the responses they the peace emissaries had been receiving. “I believe that by the time I’m done with all the regions, every Ghanaian might have been well sensitized on the need for peace to prevail in this year’s elections”, she underscored.
Asked how she felt about the NPP using her song for its campaign, she replied, “I’m not surprised at all because that track ‘Go High’ is very inspirational. I just want to make it clear to those who think I’m singing for them because I support them that, I don’t belong to any political party; but if any party, being it the NDC, CPP and so on, calls me to sing for it, I will do so.”
Phillipa further touched on some pertinent issues facing the music industry in Ghana, details of these and other issues are captured below.
Can you brief us a little about your life?
I was born in Kumasi and I schooled at Kings International Primary and J.S.S, I then went to St Monica’s. I studied Physiology Anatomy at FC Skin and Beauty Institute, Accra. From there I traveled to Germany -Wayernheganh - to study beauty therapy further.
How did you get into the music industry?
It’s a talent from God. I was also very brilliant in school and my family wanted me to be a Medical Doctor but things couldn’t turn out the way they wanted because God in His own wisdom, knows what’s best for me.
Did your parents finally agree to your becoming a musician?
No, they didn’t take it easy at all. They were very furious especially my mum. In fact, all my family members virtually neglected me. They rose up against me and so I had no support from them. There was even a time that I was thrown out of the house and for that matter, I had to battle things out on my own; but is very unfortunate that my parents are not here to see what I’ve become today.
What was your first album?
My first album was ‘Nyame Hohom Sane’, That was in 1999. I then came up with the second ‘Mogya Na Akasa’ – in 2002; Okyeso Nyame – in 2003; and what brought me into the lime light was ‘Yesu Ye Me Last Top’ – 2004. I became more popular with ‘Ago Dance’ in 2006 and the last one, ‘Go High’ - 2008.
Did the first album sell much?
No, it didn’t sell because the production wasn’t all that good and people didn’t know me as a musician then. The song was very popular only in churches.
What were some of the challenges that you faced?
As for challenges, they’re a whole lot but the main challenge in coming out with a first album is how to get a producer.
Have you done any collaboration?
A lot; I can mention them all. A few of them are, ‘Ago Dance’, with Elder Agyare and ‘Go High’, with Celestine Donkor. One thing about me is that I believe in uniqueness so if there is a part I think this person can sing better than I do, I will just go for that person rather than do it alone and mess things up. I’m also planning to collaborate with Rebecca Malopy from South Africa.
Have you received any awards for these albums?
I’ve been nominated on several occasions for the Ghana Music Awards but I haven’t received any yet. All the same, I’m proud to state that I’ve received one from Summer Awards thus, Female Consistent Artist 2007.
What do you think are some of the challenges facing the music industry today?
For me the problem I’m much concerned about is the One on One producer business in this country. In other countries, they have a big company that sits down and decides on which song to come out but here, the producers manipulate us and use us anyhow they want because they always want to choose the songs for us and if you don’t agree, then that is the end of you, which I think is very bad. Another problem is that we don’t have a strong copyright law and so unscrupulous people pirate our works.
Do you agree that pastors are killing gospel music’?
That is someone’s opinion. For me, I’ve never experienced it before because I have a management team which is headed by my beloved husband. Their work is to sort things out with those who want me to perform for them; so mine is to just go there and sing. It is all about having a good management team and nothing else.
Are all gospel songs God-inspired?
I can’t really tell, but I know mine is from God. It is all about having the favour, the grace and the charisma and also doing a market survey before coming out with a song so that the songs can sell well.
What do you do apart from singing?
I’m a beauty therapist. I treat skins. I have a beauty clinic in Kumasi called ‘Phillibells Beauty Clinic’.
Any project you’ve embarked on so far?
Yes, I do it privately because I don’t want everybody to see that I’m helping the needy.
How long have you been married?
Two years now.
How do you manage your work with your triplets?
It is not easy at all but with support from my aunts Kate, Felicia and Hannah, they are doing perfectly well and I’m very grateful to these helpful relatives. I also thank God for the lives of these kids because they - Nana Kojo Nhyira Kakari, Nana Kojo Nhyiraba Kakari and Nana Nhyira Kakari - will be a year old on September 24.
What do you do in your leisure hours?
When I’m free I just stand in front of a mirror and praise God and whiles I do that ideas will be coming in. There are a lot of people who get their songs through dreams but mine is through the mirror.
Anything else you want to add?
What I have to say is that I thank every one who has helped in making me what I am today especially, George Forest, Agya Adom, Danny Bassi and my husband.