Singing and directing music from the four walls of the Tema International School as the founding member of the Genesis Band, then to the music scene at Berklee College of Music, Nana Yaw Ankama-Asamoah is gradually making his mark in the Ghanaian and Boston Gospel Industries.
A quick chat with gospel artist and worship leader, Nana, allowed us to get up and personal with him.
Q: Tell us a bit about yourself. Who is Nana Yaw Ankama-Asamoah, for those meeting you for the first time?
A: I’m a 24-year-old Musician, Gospel Artiste, Music Producer and Recording Engineer. I graduated from the prestigious Berklee College of Music in 2016. I majored in Music Production & Engineering (MP&E).
Q: You are versatile when it comes to music. Tell us the different instruments you play.
A: I play the drum set, piano, hand percussion, bass. I also fiddle on the guitar if needed in a particular song or set list.
Q: Have you always been interested in music?
A: Yes! It’s been quite a long journey when it comes to music so kindly permit me to go down memory lane.
I remember very clearly when I was about age three that my dad bought my younger brother and myself, a ‘kiddy’ drum set. We played on those till we destroyed them. However, it did not stop our love for music. We transferred that zeal to my mum’s pots, pans and gallons, using them as a make shift drum set, in addition to our toy guitar, we formed our band in the backyard of our home. Our backyard band performed for our neighbors and childhood friends, who stood over the walls of our home to watch us. Those were some fantastic moments.
My father has always been my inspiration when it comes to music. Being a drummer for the evergreen, contemporary gospel choir in Ghana, Joyful Way Incorporated, he usually took my brother and I on their tours and crusades. Watching him play the drums was a delight, which inspired my brother and I to play the drums.
As a self taught drummer, I played at church and many events. I gradually saw my love for the piano springing up. I started very basic piano lessons at age eight. However, due to time constraints and other factors, it only lasted for three months. I did not give up. I taught myself to play songs by ear. If I heard anything on a record, on TV or radio, I made sure that tune was part of my repertoire.
It was around that time that I developed an ear for vocal harmony and choral music.
In high school, I formed the Genesis Band, a gospel choir that originated in Tema International School that is still standing and attaining great heights in gospel music in Ghana. I loved to jam with band mates, arrange songs, vocal harmonies and instrument parts. The Genesis experience also instilled some leadership skills in me that I really cherish to this day.
In my high school and teenage years, I attained certificates from The Associated Board of Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) in classical piano (Grade 3) and another one in Music Theory (Grade 5). I also achieved a certificate in music through the International General Certificate of Secondary Examinations.
I decided in high school that music is what I’m going to pursue. So when the Berklee opportunity came my way, I was extremely happy.
Q: How will you describe your sound?
A: I believe my sound comes from the different genre of music I listened to growing up. It’s a mix of gospel, jazz, classical, pretty much anything with a good groove. I’ve embraced all these styles and brought them into the gospel genre.
Q: What do you hope to achieve with your music?
A: I hope that everyone who listens to my music will have a connection with God. It’s my hope that my songs will draw them close or closer to God and that they will fall deeply in love with Him.
Q: What connection do you see between music and spirituality?
A: I believe music carries the ability to take one beyond the natural. I’ve also always believed that where speech and persuasion fails, music is victorious and has the power to take the listener or the audience to places, both emotionally and spiritually.
Q: What has Nana the Musician been up to?
A: I’ve been working on my music, an upcoming EP and certain upcoming events that I’m involved in. I’m also collaborating with other artists both in the US and Ghana, on their various projects. I’m also looking to take my studio to a commercial level.
Q: When can we expect your music?
A: I don’t have a specific date for the launch of my EP but I’m hoping to release it sometime in the first quarter of 2018, next year.
Q: You were also involved in the Undignified Concert held at the Quodesh Family Church, Winchester, formerly known as Lighthouse Chapel International (LCI), Boston. Correct?
A: Yes, guilty as charged.
Q: Tell me how that vision came about.
A: The Undignified Praise and Worship Team was birthed from the Bible verse that says David danced before the Lord unashamedly and regardless of those around. After David’s wife, Michal confronted him about his ‘embarrassing’ behavior in the presence of his servant, David replied and said, “I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes.” What David was saying is that, if praising God causes him to loose his clothes (as was the case) or if serving God is supposedly embarrassing or degrading, he (David) will do so even the more.
This scripture drove us to initiate a night of worship and praise, where people can connect to God through music and let themselves loose in His presence.
We are in the planning stages of this year’s event.
Q: Wow. That’s powerful. I heard from the grapevine that you were involved in a concert with Nigerian award winning gospel artist, Nathaniel Bassey. How did you feel about this event and what roles did you play in the concert?
A: It was an honor to share the stage with Minister Nathaniel Bassey. His music has been a great blessing to me and it was a great privilege to be the music director and sound engineer for the opening section of the night. I was also a featured artist on the program, that night. It was an honor to be a part of that event.
Q: I also heard from the grapevine as well that you are also a producer and keyboardist on an upcoming album with renowned Ghanaian lawyer and music hobbyist, Ace Anan Ankomah. How did this collaboration come about and how has it been working with Mr. Ankomah and the team?
A: Working with Uncle Ace, as I often refer to him, was a fantastic experience. My father and Uncle Ace were a superb drum and bass duo for Joyful Way Inc., back in their secondary school, university days and some years beyond that period. Uncle Ace contacted me about a personal music project he was working on to commemorate his 50th birthday. I am greatly honored to be a part of the team.
Q: What kind of impact do you see your music having 10 to 20 years down the line?
A: I see my music being a blessing to the listeners and giving them a chance and an atmosphere to draw close to God, to have a deeper relationship with God.
Q: It was a pleasure talking to you this afternoon and getting to know you. Thanks for your time. All the best in your future endeavors.
A: Thank you too. God bless.