When you are passionate about music like me, there are days like this one when the death of someone you’ve never met can mean so much to you just because of the power of their music. I am still in shock because the person who is now gone was not like any other artiste. To quote President Akufo-Addo, Ebony was indeed an “extremely talented female artiste”.
The news came in this morning that 20 years old Ghanaian female artiste Ebony died in a car accident on the Sunyani-Kumasi road. According to the press two other people died, Franky Kuri and a military man. The conversation about this shocking news started for me on a WhatsApp group chat. I couldn’t quite follow what was being said because half of the conversation was in twi (local language widely spoken across Ghana) and the image attached seemed too violent so I chose not to download it. It only occurred to me that the tragedy being discussed on the WhatsApp group earlier this morning was about Ebony when I opened my Instagram and saw a timeline flooded with pictures of her with heartbreaking messages from entertainers from all over Africa.
Ebony died one week before her 21st birthday, she died so young. For me Ghana lost one of the most talented artistes of this new generation. I recall that in August 2017 when I moved to Ghana, I did not know much about her but upon my arrival during my first week in Accra, whenever I asked people about their favorite female artistes (because unfortunately very few female artistes in Africa standout on the international scene as the male artistes), many people replied with the name Ebony. I was intrigued by this person who named herself Ebony and whose name was on most people’s minds.
Fast-forward, I had the chance to see her perform at the concert organised by the residents of the International Student Hostel of Legon University during their hall week. I had heard so much about her prior to this concert that I got almost as excited as her fans. When she came up on stage after they’d announced her name, the crowd’s energy was incredible and her aura when she stepped on stage made me realise one thing about her which helped me understand why she was loved even before she started performing. Fit body, mid-length thick dreadlocks, tattoos, provocative attire, cheerful and young, very young: she is marketable. When she started performing, the energy kept mounting and I could only think of one thing at first: is she the Ghanaian Nicky Minaj? To me, Nicki Minaj is part of this wave of female artistes that want to desexualise the body of women and show that they have complete ownership of their body, of their womanhood. Their body is theirs and what they choose to do with it is nobody’s business. So I instantly started to like Ebony, because only a very confident woman with strong principles and values could own her body and stand up to the patriarchy as she did.
That night the dancehall artiste chose to perform about three or four songs and what I got to notice was that not only were they dancing songs, but they were also actual in the sense that the topics were relatable and the songs had a heavy sense of humour (especially ‘Date Ur Fada’). Below are the videos from that night (phone quality):
After the concert, I downloaded her songs (of course) and looked more into her music. I discovered that she had heavier songs, discussing real life matters and painful experiences like ‘Maame Hw3’ which talks about domestic violence (below is attached the official video). In January of this year, the still-twenty-years-old artiste released her first album Bonyfied which we can say is a hit album as most of its tracks were already played in all the clubs across Ghana before the official release date (tracks like ‘Hustle’ feat. Bella, ‘Poison’ feat. Gatdoe and ‘Sponsor’) and other songs were about to blow.
What saddens me even more about this loss is that just yesterday I was working on a list of Ghanaian female artistes to reach out to for my International Women’s Day editorial and she was second on it. Ghana lost a unique voice, an artiste that represented the interests, ambitions and expectations of a whole generation. Ebony was gifted, and still had so much to share, she left us too soon and I would have loved to meet her personally, to get to know the artiste better. Ask her where she gets her inspiration from, how this journey as an artiste began for her and how did she do to make it to the top so fast. I would have also loved to see her perform, just one more time and maybe this time sing along to her songs with the crowd as a fan, because over time that is what I have become.
This article is written in loving memory of Priscilla Opoku-Kwarteng, aka Ebony Reigns. May her soul rest in peace and her music live forever.
Three of my favorite songs from Ebony: