Not many artists born in 1936 have lived to see international acclaim in their late seventies. But Ebo Taylor, who started his musical career in the 1950s, is now opening the eyes of the world for the Highlife music of Ghana, and for his own very personal style.
Ebo Taylor grew up in a flourishing musical environment in 1950s Ghana, in a time where Western Jazz was imported, imitated and mixed with the musical traditions of the Akan people. The result of this mix was Highlife, a genre notified for its generous blend of jazzy horns, guitars and rhythm instruments. During the sixties and seventies, Taylor kept gaining popularity in his country as a distinguished guitarist, vocalist bandleader and composer. He spent time in Britain, collaborating with artists such as Fela Kuti.
Despite a range of record releases throughout his career, Ebo Taylor remained a well-kept secret outside West Africa (and to some dedicated Western fans). Then, in 2010, he was invited to Berlin by the Afrobeat Academy. Their cooperation has borne fruit and resulted in two original albums as well as a collection of older material, released on Strut Records. The veteran has become a more personal and more intensive songwriter, creating music full of soul and history.
Text: Kristian Krogh-Sørensen