Afrafranto (‘Butterfly’ in the Akan language of Ghana, West Africa) performs authentic acoustic palm wine and highlife music. The only group outside Ghana preserving and promoting this unique genre, Afrafranto has grown into a dynamic group that has entertained audiences over the past few years with their dance-driven music and electric performances.
Palm wine music is a West Africa music genre that evolved among the Kru people from Sierra Leone and Liberia. Portuguese guitars were introduced by sailors to these regions and the locals combined their melodies with Trinidadian calypso and created palm wine music. Palm wine music was named after the drink from the naturally fermented sap of the oil palm, which was shared at gatherings where African guitarists played. A style of acoustic guitar music that accompanies songs reflecting philosophies and stories of life, palm wine music was the forerunner of highlife music.
Afrafranto features four members of the JUNO award winning African Guitar Summit group – Theo Yaw Boakye on lead vocals and shakers, Pa Joe on guitar and vocals, Kofi Ackah on percussion and vocals, and Ebenezer Agyekum on bass guitar – along with Sam Donkor on balafon, and Marshall Nketiah on congas.
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Music columnist Errol Nazareth introduces us to Afrafranto, a Toronto-based group specializing in “palm wine music”. It’s a style of acoustic guitar music that was born in West African countries like Ghana and Sierra Leone. Palm wine music got its name from a local drink made from the fermented sap of the oil palm tree, and musicians would gather at a booze can, under a tree or at someone’s home and play this music while folks drank the beverage.
(original broadcast: CBC One Toronto 99.1FM Metro Morning – August 2, 2012)
A benefit concert, Highlife Help: Flood Relief for BAPMAF (the Bokoor African Popular Music Archives Foundation), featuring Afrafranto – December 11, 2011 @ Lula Lounge