5 Lessons From The Music Legend’s Life

News of Paapa Yankson’s death broke Friday afternoon [July 21], revealing that the Ghanaian highlife legend passed on earlier in the day around 9:00…

Sources close to the family revealed that Paapa Yankson died at his residence in Dansoman, Accra, Ghana. He reportedly died in his sleep, at the age of 73.

Recall that for some years now, the ace highlife artiste has been confined to a wheelchair due to ill health. His last public appearance is noted to be at the 2017 Vodafone Ghana Music Awards (VGMAs) held on the evening of Saturday, 8th April, 2017.

Paapa Yankson’s death has indeed got many who knew him thinking and reminiscing. Here are some of the most striking points in his life with significant lessons.

Paapa Yankson’s music has always been described as songs that give life to dead souls. Of course, they couldn’t otherwise considering how he started his music career.

Born Benjamin Paapa Kofi Yankson on June 22, 1944 at Winneba, Paapa Yankson first displayed his inborn music talent publicly at a neighbour’s funeral.

In a similar occasion – his own mother’s funeral, he landed his first music contract. And for more than 30 years Paapa Yankson has produced music that has brought life to many dead souls.

2. The Marriage Between His Background and Career

There was actually a spiritual marriage between where he came from and what he became, fulfilling the proverb that a snake must give birth to a long creature.

Paapa’s parents were both musicians – his father was a reputable trumpeter with the Apam Brass Band while his mother was a member of the Christ Little Band of the Methodist Church. They however, never wanted their son to take up singing; they preferred a white collar job.

To have his parents’ wish fulfilled, Paapa Yankson enrolled at the Ahantaman Secondary Commercial School after basic education, and obtained a certificate in stenography.

On graduation, he landed a job at the Kingsway Chemists Limited and subsequently at the African Timber and Plywood Company, a subsidiary of the United African Company (UAC), at Samreboi, where he both worked as a stenographer.

However, his bond with music being very much alive, he started playing as a lead singer for the UAC band, the Big Sound Band, while he worked as a stenographer for the company.

3. Full Comeback To What He Is meant To Be

Then Yankson’s mother died, and  came he down to Takoradi for the funeral where he barged into the Carousal Seven, the same life band he played for years bank during a neighbour’s funeral. After the burial, the leader of the band, recommended Paapa Yankson to the proprietor, for him to be taken to play with his band. And Paapa Yankson gladly took up the job.

To get grounded in his new found career, he enrolled for diploma programme in music at the National Academy of Music, Winneba in 1975. On graduation, he took up a job as music organizer at the Garrisons Education Unit, Burma Camp, Accra.

This simply means, you must be what you are meant to be!

It is certainly no overstatement to say that Paapa Yankson remained relevant till his death. Even during the later years of his wheelchair bound condition, he continued to perform.

Late last year, ‘Da Paapa’ flouted hospital regulations and left his hospital bed to perform at the Polo Grounds for the first edition of the ‘Bottles & Bands’ festival held at the Accra Polo Grounds on November 19, 2017.

Addressing the audience at the occasion, he said: “I had to leave the hospital and come here to perform for you, and it’s all because of the love I have for you”.

The latest of his daring relevance attitude came at the 2017 VGMAs earlier this year where he was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Dedicating the award to fellow ace musician Charles Kofi Amankwaah Mann popularly known as CK Mann, Paapa Yankson recounted how he competed with him on the entertainment field before finally making a breakthrough. He also gave out a touching speech on coming back to the music scene soon.

But Alas, he didn’t make it!

Watch Paapa Yankson speak at the 2017 VGMA in the video below:

Paapa’s life achievements are really a reflection of hardwork and dedication. The Okukuseku hitmaker has many albums and songs to his credit, some of which earned several nominations and national awards.

In 1997 his composition, ‘Yaaba’ won an award for Best Composition during the Komkomba Awards. Some of his hit songs include ‘Wiase Mu Nsem’, ‘Show Your Love’,’ ‘Wo Yere Anaa Wo Maame’, ‘Tena Menkyen’, etc.

Throughout his music career, Paapa was instrumental in the revival and projection of several music bands such as The Western Diamond Band, The Gold Nuggets and The Carousel Seven.

He also taught and performed in many countries around the world including the USA, Canada, Belgium, Britain, Germany, Holland, Nigeria, Benin and Ivory Coast.

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