Ghana and the World Music Boom


  • John Collins Equinox Publishing Ltd.



authenticity, folkloric performance, Ghanaian music, highlife, independent record label, music copyright, music economics' tourism, world music


Ghana was not able to initially benefit from the growth of the commercial World Music sector due to the collapse of its live popular music scene during the military coups of the late 1970s and 80s. However with the 1990s return of civilian rule and growth of tourism this is now changing. There are currently numerous collaborations between Ghanaian and foreign musicians and literally thousands of cultural tourists, African Americans visitors and World Music’aficionados coming to enjoy local popular and folkloric performances and festivals, and study traditional music and dance at the scores of private cultural schools that are springing up. This has led to the proliferation of many neo-traditional performance groups, re-awakened an interest in ‘classic’ highlife—and has also led to the Ghanaian government to upgrade the popular entertainment sector.

Author Biography

John Collins, Equinox Publishing Ltd.

John Collins is Professor at the University of Ghana, has many academic publications on African popular music and has acted as consultant for several films. Collins is a musician and since 1969 has played, worked and recorded with numerous Ghanaian and Nigerian bands. He currently coruns the Local Dimension highlife band, is Chair of the BAPMAF African Music Archives and is a patron of the Ghana Musicians’ Union.


Adepegba, B. 2005. Songlines. March/April.

Chernoff, J. 1979. African Rhythm and African Sensibility. Chicago: Chicago University Press.

Collins, J. 1992. West African Pop Roots. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

—1996. Highlife Time. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

—2000. ‘Development of the music industry in Africa’. Workshop of the World Bank on Developing the Music Industry in Africa. INTCEERD/Resources/CWI_music_industry_in_Africa_synopsis.pdf.

Ofori, A. T. A., and D. H. Acquah. 1929. Catalogue of Zonophone West Africa Records by Native Artists, record number EZ 74: 11. Hayes, Middlesex: British Zonophone Company, 1929.

Ward, W. E. F. 1927. ‘Music in the Gold Coast’. Gold Coast Review 3 (London): 199–223.



How to Cite

Collins, J. (2009). Ghana and the World Music Boom. Popular Music History, 3(3), 275–294.