Kwame Wood better known as Rass Kwame took to music at an early age of nine years. From there his music journey began when he then enlisted to join a music band, winning a music competition and join forces with other bands.
Rass Kwame can also be described as one man with many branches; he is a musician, drummer, arranger, vocalist, producer and sound engineer.
So far Rass Kwame is a versatile musician and has toured the world with successful musicians like Osibisa, Miatta Fahnbulleh, George Darko, Stanley Turpentine and more aside his own band group, Ananse Band.
Below is the detailed interview Ghana Music.com conducted with Rass Kwame.
Ghana Music.com: What is your music background?
Rass Kwame: My music career started when I was 9yrs old. I started as a vocalist with a neighborhood group called Shuabastic Anachronisms. We played at the students’ pop-chain music competition called Anansekrom, in the early 70’s. In 1977 we won the competition under the name Muri Sundiata. That was when I finally realized that I have a talent in music and that I had to pursue it. After secondary school, I joined the Noble Mission Band. I then went on to play with Daasebre dance band, then the Black Note with Nat Fredua, the late Kiki Gyan, Ralph Kari Kari, and a host of other power-house musicians at the time. In 1989, I was contracted by C. K. Mann to tour North America, which later became my adopted home. I settled in New York City where I played with Nkossi, a world beat group. I moved to Washington D.C. four years later and joined Culture Shock Band with Kofi Edu, Ekow Quaye and co. I then decided to relocate to Minneapolis, where I formed the Ananse Band. While in D.C., I recorded my first album “Ancestors.” In February 2010 I released my sophomore CD “Ananse Stories.”
Ghana Music.com: Who are your musical influences?
Rass Kwame: My musical influences are Osibisa, Bob Marley, Burning Spear, Steel Pulse, just to name a few. Their music inspired me so much, because it dealt with social and economic and spoke for the oppressed.
Ghana Music.com: How do you describe your music to people?
Rass Kwame: Whatever I say in my music, I really mean it. I was quite fortunate growing up, to play with some prominent artistse and composers who truly influenced me. I try to bring some joy to the down trodden to have faith and believe in Jah.
Ghana Music.com: What image do you think your music conveys?
Rass Kwame: The image of joy and happiness.
Ghana Music.com: What are your immediate music career goals?
Rass Kwame: I pray that someday, God willing, I am able to set up a recording studio back home and possibly a music school to give a chance to up and coming musical talents.
Ghana Music.com: How do you rate your performance ability (be very critical. No clichés)?
Rass Kwame: I am a very versatile musician. I play different kinds of musical instruments. I also compose and arrange my music. I am a dynamic band leader. I have 35 years of experience in this business, so to rate my performance ability myself is a bit of a stretch. I have a body of work and a life-long record to attest to my ability.
Ghana Music.com: What do you think you would be doing if you were not a singer?
Rass Kwame: That’s a very good question. I probably would not be talking to you.
Ghana Music.com: Have you recorded any previous CD’s or posted any audio files on the internet? Who produced your recording?
Rass Kwame: My first CD was released in 1997 titled “Ancestors” like I said earlier. I have all my songs on the internet. You can take a listen on my web site and myspace.com. My first CD was produced by Sikafutro Productions out of Washington DC. My latest release “Ananse Stories” was produced by myself on my label Mystic Illusion Music. It was recorded at Tiyggi Studios in Minnesota.
Ghana Music.com: Which artist would you love to work with that you haven’t already?
Rass Kwame: I would like to work with any artist who wants to work with me. David Hinds of Steel Pulse would be great to work with.
Ghana Music.com: What does making music mean to you? For example, your lyrics, do you wish to liberate and educate the masses?
Rass Kwame: Absolutely, especially the younger generation, I mean the youth of today. The youth today got to realize that they are the leaders of tomorrow and how they live today will reflect the kind of impact they have on society and their communities.
Ghana Music.com: How do you want to leave people feeling after they have witnessed a performance from you and why?
Rass Kwame: You will be energized with sweet vibes when you hear Rasskwame perform. I have been an opening act for a lot of great reggae bands across the globe, including Burning Spear, Lucky Dube, Culture, The Wailers, just to mention a few. My fans always get their money’s worth anytime they come to hear me perform. It’s like fire burning.
Ghana Music.com: If you could change one thing about modern music industry what would it be?
Rass Kwame: The industry today is so competitive, but I don’t think people should change their originality just to compete. Musicians need to be true to who they are. No matter how long it takes, the real music will survive and come through.
Ghana Music.com: How would you describe the content of the album?
Rass Kwame: It is original, spiritual, heartfelt, and the message will make you feel good. The quality and resonance of the recording is exceptional. It will uplift you.
Ghana Music.com: Is there something specifically you feel you have to do differently than what others are doing?
Rass Kwame: Well, if the message is clear and the music is soothing then let it play on.
Ghana Music.com: Shed more light on the album and the promo songs?
Rass Kwame: “Ananse Stories” has ten tracks, and each track has its own feel and beat. Once you roll it youcan’t stop listening.
Ghana Music.com: What did you listen to growing up?
Rass Kwame: All genres of music. I’ve played jazz, rock, and traditional music. A good musician doesn’t limit what you listen to.
Ghana Music.com: As a musician –how important is it to let your fans understand your lyrics?
Rass Kwame: Very simple, just listen carefully and you will hear. I don’t know if it is important that they understand what I am saying. It is more important that they understand what they are feeling and what that will make them say and do.
Ghana Music.com: Who is the most interesting person you’ve worked with and why?
Rass Kwame: You know that’s a good one. You see, musicians are very interesting people. I would say Georges Kouakou, a keyboard player and an arranger extraordinaire.
Ghana Music.com: What is your creative process like? How do you write songs?
Rass Kwame: My creative process depends on my mood. When I look around and see how unstable our world is, it breaks my heart and that’s when I try to create a song.
Ghana Music.com: What would you say has been the personal highlight of your career so far?
Rass Kwame: When theologians buy your music to teach in their classrooms, I believe that does not come easy. That’s exactly what happened when I released my first CD.
Ghana Music.com: What would you say are the hardest problems you have had to overcome to get where you are today?
Rass Kwame: Are u sure you want to know? Finances for sure.
Ghana Music.com What are your plans for the future?
Rass Kwame: My plan is to continue recording good music and hoping that my fans will continue to support me.
Ghana Music.com: Why do you think the scene in Ghana music industry is lacking?
Rass Kwame: I don’t really know what’s going on there anymore. In my opinion, young artists need to be encouraged to be original. Facilities, schools and the recording industry need to grow the music scene and support musicians. Musicians need to support each other,
Ghana Music.com What do you feel you bring to the music industry that’s different to other artists?
Rass Kwame: Peace, love and harmony. That’s not different, it just is. I don’t think I am specifically unique in what I bring musically. I bring myself, and I am unique. I incorporate the best of Ghanaian, American jazz, Reggae, and world beat rhythms and mix it up to form my own voice, my own rhythm. It’s all about the beat, man.
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