Akua Kamau

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1 – When did you first get into music? What or who Inspired you?

I was introduced to the arts from very early in my childhood when I was taught to do antimocassin by a friend who had learned it at her school in her Arts and Crafts class. Music was a very important subject in high school and my interested was further stimulated when in at the age of 15yrs I was given my first guitar by my mom. As it so happened there was an Englishman who conducted free guitar lessons after school for the students. This was a very exciting time for me. However after leaving high school I more or less put music aside and pursued academic studies leading up to a Bachelor of Science from  Jamaican university and later an MBA from University of Wales/Manchester Business School in Financial Management. During the next thirty or so years I was never very far from the arts or music although I wasn’t actually playing the guitar. For a while I wrote poetry and sang (am not much of a singer). However during 2009 I was speaking with a high school friend and we were reminiscing about high school life and I stated that I am sorry that I did not continue with the guitar and we were also speaking about an upcoming annual past student reunion and I said it would be such a great thing if there was a past student band who would play at the function and he volunteered to play if we could get a past student band together and I said that there would be no way that they would be onstage having fun while I had to sat in the audience. He and his younger brother and quite a few other past students from our cohort are professional musicians and quite coincidentally I had played in our high school band with a few of them, on and off for a while back then. With my passion for music rekindled, I went to a music store the very next day and purchased two acoustic guitars (one for myself and the other for my teen-aged son) and started private lesson with a guitar instructor. I found that some of the chords were still very fresh in my mind, however finger conditioning and finger independence were very challenging and it took a while to get that back. To cut a long story short, I enrolled at Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts and continued my training during which time my playing improved and my passion for the guitar began to become a bit of an obsession. At the end of my work contract (end of January 2013) I decided that it was time to return to the guitar this time on a full-time basis and as we say, the rest is now history. There were a number of persons along the way,  who inspired me commencing with my friend Mr Gerald Belnavis with whom I was speaking back in 2009 about the then upcoming annual reunion, there is also guitar-god Jimy Graham, dear friend Mr Earl Septii Panton producer and music executive, who introduced me to Jimy and the list goes on.

2 – Who did you grow up listening to, and does that impact on what you create now?

Most of the songs of my childhood were reggae songs of the day by such artistes as Bob Marley, Dennis Brown, Peter Tosh. However there were overseas artistes by The O’Jays, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Marvin Gaye, Hugh Masekela and of course Manu Dibango with his Soul Makossa. There were countless others as well, too numerous to mention. They ALL influenced my current taste for music and the music that I create. The doo-wop groups and the balladeers gave me rhythm, and soul, however Marley, Brown, Tosh, Masekela and Dibango gave me my identity and taste for the African sound and unquestionably are the most influential.

3 – How long have you been playing/writing?

I learned to play the guitar in 1974/75 I have been writing poetry since the late 1980’s even though I am unable to say where the bulk of such material is, today. In terms of actually writing music, it started in earnest during 2011 at which time I started to experiment with sounds and chord progressions.

4 – How often do you play live (include details and links for any upcoming gigs)?

Since commencing on this musical journey in 2009 most of my time has been in the studio however I have managed to make a few appearances and my favourite venue has been at the Cannon Ball Cafe. A very small, very homely environment. My next appearance is scheduled to be at a Count Ossie and The Mystic Revellations of Rastafri Tribute set to take place in the month of March in St Mary.

5 – What has been your favourite moment in music?

To date my favourite moment has been the reception I got at The Cannon Ball cafe. I had a lot fo gun playing for the audience. I also had a lot of fun playing at my Alma Mater’s reunion in 2013 as well.

6 – Where is the best place to find you online?

Everything about me and my music can be found at www.akuakamaumusic.com and I suggest that a visit The Back Room as that is where I tend to share my personal thoughts. It is also a very good idea to read the liner notes for each song.

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