Meet highlife icon, Kumi Guitar

VERSATILE highlife icon, Kumi Guitar has over the years been treating the world to refined mixture of highlife, contemporary highlife and afro-fusion genre of melodies.

Born Nana Yaw Kumi, he was crowned with a stage name ‘Kumi Guitar’ from Zap Mallet whilst training him to be a guitarist.
He became a professional singer in 2011 and triggered Ghanaians with urban highlife tunes that made him one of the most loved artistes the industry possessed.

The exceptional singer collaborated with a musician on Sugar Tone’s compilation, after which he became a toast of fun loving Africans with his impeccable and free style lyrics.

Under the Slip Music Records, his single hit ‘Break into two’ which he featured Guru gained nomination for New Artiste of the Year in 2014 Vodafone Ghana Music Awards (VGMA). In 2017, the highlife artiste got a record deal of five-year management contract with Zylofon Media, a new creative arts company which recently shot into disrepute.

His joy in preaching the word of love through his music did not wither even when his label was confronted with challenges, incredibly he won various awards last year and is poised to win at this year’s VGMA.
Times Weekend got up close with him on Monday to talk about the challenges of the entire award scheme.

TW: Congratulations for making it to the nominations list.
Kumi: Thank You!
TW: What is your opinion about the VGMAs?
Kumi: It is a blessing to Ghana and must be appreciated.
TW: Do you deserve more than one nomination?
Kumi: Hmmm! I won’t necessarily say that but I believe my songs ‘Konkonsa’ and ‘Betweener’ did well, so at least I must get three nominations under song writer, highlife song and highlife artiste of the year.

TW: Is VGMA laudable or creating confusion among artistes?
Kumi: It is a prestigious award that the nation could boast of and it has helped artistes to be recognised for their hard work. The way the nomination is compiled is the problem; artistes don’t know what goes into the nominations. Organisers have to explain what they look out for before nominating the songs and the artistes. The mode they carry out the nomination has created confusion.

TW: Okay. What have you seen wrong about the songs nominated within the various categories?
Kumi: The rhythm of ‘My level’ is like ‘Nny3 mania’ which makes it a highlife song but SM is a dancehall artiste and must be nominated under his category. There are lots of highlife singers who released great highlife tracks and were not nominated for the year under review, so let’s say if Shatta wins the Highlife song of the year and wins Dancehall artiste then the singers who call themselves highlife artistes would be ridiculed. The VGMAs should set the rules right and make the artistes aware of how they categorise the songs and what goes into it.

TW: Do singers sing because they want to gain awards?
Kumi: No! The award boosts one’s confidence and serves as add on to one’s reputation. It enhances respect and makes people address you in a particular manner. This gives self fulfilment as the award will be used for future reference.
TW: People believe most of the awards are bought, what is your take on that?
Kumi: If an artiste is nominated, it is for him to ensure that he wins. I believe if artistes who are nominated deserve their nominations people won’t doubt the system. They know the artiste deserve the award within the category, VGMA organisers just have to spell out the criteria they look out for and make Ghanaians and artistes aware to make the award scheme free and fair. We know there are awards that demanded for vote and those that don’t demand any vote, with that we should be educated on what goes into each.

TW: What should fans expect from your nomination?
Kumi: They should keep supporting me in prayers and if my category requires for vote, they should vote for me massively.
TW: Kumi, there is some conspiracy theory that musicians use deities to make their songs popular, as a musician how true is this theory?
Kumi: I have also heard of that but I don’t know how true it is because I am not into it.

TW: But have you ever prayed to God to help your music to be recognised?
Kumi: Yes! I pray for God to help me to get inspiration to write songs that will make impact in people’s life, so my prayers have always been God should make my songs impact positively in listeners’ lives.
TW: What has been your greatest challenge within the industry?
Kumi: My problem has been my management, I believe my songs are not reaching the masses as I want and I consider the job to be management work, they are not doing the job as best as I want it.

TW: How do you get your name on a show bill?
Kumi: I do good inspirational songs and this makes them contact me or my management for shows.
TW: How many awards do you have so far?
Kumi: More than three awards, from 2018 3Music awards, 2018 Ghana Music Awards UK, Ghana Entertainment Awards USA amongst others.
TW: Do you have a backup plan if someday your music loses its recognition?
Kumi: For now I am full time musician but I might consider fashion designing as a backup plan.

TW: How do you want to be remembered?
Kumi: I want to be remembered as a respectable brand.
TW: How do you feel when people misinterpret your song?
Kumi: People have their way of interpreting everything depending on how they feel or think about you. You just have to pray it doesn’t get out of hand.
TW: If you were MUSIGA president, what would you do differently to shape the industry?

Kumi: I will work to ensure that artistes are well respected. I will also see to it that there are good sound engineers who will produce quality sounds as well as setting up a publishing firm to publish the songs everywhere,
TW: Your advice to VGMA organisers?
Kumi: They should do some corrections and ensure that deserving artistes win the awards.
TW: We wish you the best!
Kumi: Thank you

BY JOYCELINE NATALLY CUDJOE

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