November 16, 2017

OneBeat Alumna Launches Black Girls Glow

A common theme throughout Ama Diaka’s work as a spoken word poet is the challenge of being a female professional artist.  As she confronts this challenge in her own life, she has dedicated herself to supporting the voices and livelihoods of other female artists in Accra. Her experience on OneBeat reinforced her commitment to supporting female artists, inspiring her to launch Black Girls Glow, an initiative to foster collaboration among women artists and explore ways that art can build community.

In 2016, Ama visited the United States for a OneBeat program focused on Musical Migration, exploring how large movements of people have shaped music and how musicians encourage dialogue, community resilience, and rootedness in situations of displacement and upheaval.  The experience involved collaboration with other artists for a month of performances, discussions, and interactive music events. When she returned home, she replicated the OneBeat model with female artists in her own country. She launched Black Girls Glow, bringing six artists, mainly vocalists, from around Ghana for an intensive two-day residency just outside of Accra. During these two days, the artists created new work, using musical exercises such as round robins, soundpainting, and “quick-draw” duos and trios. Ama also secured producers around Accra and hosted the artists to develop and produce the 12-track album Mother of Heirs.  After hosting a listening session for Mother of Heirs in June, where she auctioned off three commissioned, donated pieces of original artwork from local artists, Ama used the funds raised to put on a live performance of the album, bringing together a live set by DJ Keyz, one of the album’s producers, with a five-member band. The concert was billed as one of the best of the year.

“Being selected for OneBeat 2016 was an experience that honed my craft and increased my desire to do more with my art,” recalls Ama. “It only seemed right that together with fellow poet Dzyadzorm, Black Girls Glow, modeled after OneBeat, would come to life. Black Girl Glow is a concept that aims to raise the profile of female artists locally, regionally and globally by highlighting and showcasing the brilliant and talented young female artists making waves in the Ghanaian entertainment industry.”

Ama emphasizes, “This platform is important because it is necessary to honor the hard work and dedication that female entertainers put into their art to get noticed in an industry so dominated by male presence. Six artists - three vocalists, two poets, one rapper - Adomaa, Cina Soul, Ria Boss, Dzyadzorm and myself - came together to create original music.”  Although it had no initial funding, the project took off because some of the country’s most talented young producers and producers from Nigeria and Kenya contributed their creativity and talent.  Three visual artists also generously donated original artwork, which they auctioned off at a listening session to raise funds for a live concert. “The project started off as a flicker, but it took an entire creative community to burn the torch. It is our hope that we can get the right support to be able to expand the potential of Black Girls Glow.”

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