Nana Adjoa Shares Cover of Ebo Taylor's "Love and Death"

Posted Nov. 8, 2019

Nana Adjoa Shares Cover of Ebo Taylor's

Click Here To Listen To Ebo Taylor's "Love and Death"

After being in the studio for over a year, Nana Adjoa is unveiling her latest musical offering with a new cover of Ebo Taylor's "Love and Death" today.

Nana tells us: "I was exploring the idea of doing a cover. There were a couple of tracks circling around in my brain. What these tracks had in common was that they were very much groove-based but also below the surface, very beautiful songs with deep lyrics. For me, lyrics are almost never the first thing that register with me, especially in danceable music. This track, every time I heard it, I ended up looking it up and the forgetting what it was. Sometime at the beginning of this year, I was listening to this Ghanaian Highlife playlist and this song, again, stuck in my head. The bassline is killer, but this time around I finally heard the lyrics and they really registered."

She continues, "What I wanted to do with this cover was mix up the Ghanaian groove influences with my 'other European half'. Which brought me to the piano. An instrument that doesn't exist in the West African music. But I really didn't want it to be the standard 'girl behind the piano singing a ballad' kind of cover. So what I did was... The song consist of (just) two chords. I wanted the piano in there as a representative of European musical traditions, so in the piano part I came up with, I played different kind of inversions of these two chords, inspired by the 'classical music' way of thinking. The groove and baseline are based on a combination of the two different versions of Love and Death by Ebo Taylor. One from the seventies, and the later one from 2010 were he made record with this European band. I layered different drum and percussion parts with whatever was laying around in the studio. Instead of the horns in Ebo Taylors versions, which work as a 'call and response vibe' I also wanted to also do an ode the typical Ghanaian female choir sound. Which is very loosely sung, on the edge of singing out of tune - which I love. So I came up with the call and response choirs but asked Daniel Van Loenen, one of my band members, to play on those choirs and the main melody as well to have the sound and color of a horn on the record. Also, I sang the choir parts pretty loose, but we asked this artist and friend of mine named Luka to sing some additional parts to have a little more subtle more beautifully sang voice in there as well."

Who Is Nana Adjoa?

Born in Amsterdam, Nana spent a portion of her childhood in the concrete environs of working class neighborhood the Bijlmer. "It's not the nicest part," she says with trademark modesty of an area described by the local chief of police as a 'national disaster area'. Her father was a Ghanaian who'd come to Amsterdam in the 1980s, her mother Dutch ("very Dutch"). She describes her upbringing as fairly liberal until her parent's divorce and their subsequent embrace of Christianity." The second part of my growing up was with some Christian values, but by this point I was getting to the age of making up my own mind," she says." It was a bit 'too late' for me." She speaks of a rift it caused in her family, with the Christians (Nana's father, mother and brother) on one side and the non-Christians (Nana, her sister and the rest of the family) on the other.

Religion, along with questions about her own gender identity as well as growing up a half black person in a pretty white environment were all benchmarks that really shaped who Adjoa is and in turn her songwriting. "In fact, I think I still unconsciously use a lot of Christian ideas and metaphors in my music," she adds.

Nana was accepted to study jazz (electric bass and double bass) at the prestigious Amsterdam Conservatory, however the reality wasn't quite what she'd imagined. "It was very much like school," she says, today. "We thought we wanted to go to the most difficult department, that we wanted to be the best, but it wasn't a very fun experience." A divide began to grow between the restrictive, theoretical compositions she was studying and the more melodic, free-flowing music she was playing outside.

Soon after graduating, she realized pursuing her own solo career was the direction for her she formed a band and for the first time started recording her songs. The results are "Down at The Root (Part 1 & 2)" and "A Tale so Familiar" EP.

"This is the very beginning of a new season for me and I can't wait to share my new music with you," says Nana.

Photo Credit: Latoya Van Der Meeren

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