Remembering the King of Highlife, E.T Mensah on his birthday
Today is the birthday of the King of Highlife music, ET Mensah! He would have been 101 years old today!
This is the man who sang “Ghana Our Land of Freedom” “All for you” “Minkebobayaa” and others.
Emmanuel Tettey Mensah, (31 May 1919 – 19 July 1996), was a Ghanaian musician who was regarded as the “King of Highlife” music. He led the band “The Tempos”, a group that toured widely in West Africa.
Mensah was born at Accra. At the age of 12 he learned to play flute in the Government School band and in 1932 he began playing piccolo and flute in the Accra Orchestra, a schoolchildren’s band. The leader of the Accra Orchestra at the time was a teacher, Joe Lamptey, who gathered talented young people together to form a band. Mensah continued to play with this orchestra and also learnt to play the alto-saxophone. His musical career was given an opportunity when he was able to finance his own musical ventures opening a pharmacy.
The original “Tempos” band was formed in 1946, as a “jam session” group, some European soldiers stationed in Accra; it played for army dances and at the Accra club. Over time, African musicians replaced the European ones, until finally it became an all-African band. Mensah joined the band in 1947. Shortly after this the band split up, to be reformed again with Mensah as its leader. The group gained international attention and in 1957 Mensah performed with Louis Armstrong.
The highlife style of music started to decline in the 1960s, but E. T. Mensah remained active for years afterwards. He co-starred on a highly successful album with the Nigerian trumpeter Dr Victor Abimbola Olaiya.
We at Ameyaw Debrah Media remember and celebrate this true legend and proud son of Ghana!
Biography Source: Wikipedia