In the Spotlight: Musical roots run deep
by Denise Ellen Rizzo
Oct 04, 2012 | 5150 views | 1 1 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Maame Afon, a Ghana-born singer who lives in Mountain House, recently performed songs from her album, "Rise," in Africa. Glenn Moore/Tracy Press
Maame Afon, a Ghana-born singer who lives in Mountain House, recently performed songs from her album, "Rise," in Africa. Glenn Moore/Tracy Press
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MOUNTAIN HOUSE — Maame Afon has been singing since she was a small child in Ghana, Africa, and the Mountain House resident returned to her roots this summer to perform songs from her debut album, “Rise.”

Her musical career took wing a year ago, when she and her husband, Nii Sai Sai, connected with fellow countryman and musical producer Isaac Aryee.

The combination of her singing, her husband’s songwriting and Aryee’s production proved the ideal trifecta to create Afon’s debut album.

They got together to begin the album in September 2011, and by May, it was complete.

Afon said her music is spiritual and reflects empowerment in her life. She said the album is her story put to music.

“Music is a big part of what I do,” she said. “It brings all of who I am. The whole idea is to connect with people.”

The songs that make up the album are soothing and rhythmic, and their melodies give the listener an uplifted feeling.

They combine jazz, reggae, gospel and contemporary Christian styles. Of the 12 songs, 10 were written by Sai, and two were written by friends from South Africa and Ghana.

“It came out of our experiences,” Sai said. “We both lost our younger sisters. The music is about breaking away and being uplifted, the challenges and sharing of faiths and friendships to help us pull through. To rise above and look for a better day.”

When Afon performed a series of concerts before hundreds of people in her native Ghana in August, she said she felt a bit nostalgic.

“There was hesitation, but once I sing, it drives everything I do,” she said. “Once I have the microphone in my hand, I am in the zone, in my element. It was a way to promote excellence in music driven by Africans.”

Sai said the most rewarding thing for him about the shows in Africa was watching the different generations in the audience share a love of Afon’s music as they danced in the aisles.

In her childhood, Afon performed often in church and youth groups in Ghana, and when she came to America in 1999 to study French and Spanish at Luther College, she said she never lost her desire to sing. She met her future husband through a friend after he, too, moved from Ghana in 1993 to attend Dartmouth College, where he earned a degree in electrical engineering.

Afon and Sai live in Mountain House with their three children, 5-year-old twin girls Akweley and Akuokor and 3-year-old son Jace. The children are already involved with music, showing a gift for guitar, drums and piano, according to their parents.

Through the years, Afon has spread her message of equality for African women. In the past decade, she has combined experience in grant writing, philanthropy, women’s rights, social justice and development with her love of music.

Her professional singing career has included work with Global Fund for Women, UNICEF-Ghana and World Savvy. She is also a member of the Women’s Earth Alliance.

“My music celebrates diversity of African music and pays tribute — it pays homage to those roots,” she said.

In addition to her concerts in Ghana, she performed in a May concert at Cornerstone Fellowship church in Livermore.

Although she hopes her future will include more local performances, Afon’s immediate plans include promoting the release of an Afrobeat single, “Emi Oko Orin (I Will Sing).” The single can be purchased at CDBaby.com, and a music video is slated for release in late October, Sai said.

Afon’s album, “Rise,” is available on iTunes, CDBaby.com, Amazon.com and her own website, www.maameafon.com.

For information: 510-545-6724 or ask@akwantumedia.com.

• Contact Denise Ellen Rizzo at 830-4225 or drizzo@tracypress.com.
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ikwie
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October 05, 2012
Maame Afon is currently offering a free download of her jazzy track "Love Your Somebody" at www.noisetrade.com/maameafon



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