World Food Night takes place this coming Friday (February 22) in association with Refugee Action. UK singer-songwriter Adjoa Owusu discusses her relationship with music and food through her Ghanaian roots
Born in the UK to Ghanaian parents, food and music have both been an important way for me to connect with my heritage. I grew up with a wonderful array of Ghanaian food around me; everything from jollof rice, a savory rice dish with meat and vegetables, to a huge variety of soups and stews.
These accompany starchy foods such as rice, fufu which is made from ingredients like pounded yam and plantain; or kenke, a dish made from fermented corn dough wrapped in corn leaves. Living in a global city like London means that you are surrounded by a myriad of cultures so I enjoy finding common traits and fusing these influences with Ghanaian cooking to give it my own unique slant.
“Refugee Action’s World Food Night is such a great way to celebrate the universal language of food and music…”
Like cooking, my music also fuses different influences. In Ghana, the local music and culture had a huge impact on me. I taught myself the piano, which I learnt in the UK from as early as I can remember; and many Twi gospel songs alongside English songs. Creating vocal harmonies to Twi songs was also a big passion. So it felt completely natural to fuse Ghanaian influences with my live soul performances.
As a language graduate and enthusiast, languages always find their way into my music. That’s why supporting Refugee Action’s World Food Night is such a great way to celebrate the universal language of food and music; and how it can bring people from all backgrounds together.
My musicians have worked with Ghanaian bands including Osibisa, KonKoma, as well as artists like Hugh Masekela, Courtney Pine and Beverley Knight. It was an honour to sing the Twi version of the Ghanaian national anthem with leading Ghanaian musician Alfred ‘Kari’ Bannerman for the launch of the 50th anniversary of the Ghanaian Independence celebrations in the UK at City Hall. Creating tracks for my new EP on my own label Cinnamon Sounds gave me the exciting opportunity to bring all these diverse elements together in the studio.
To find out how to get involved with World Food Night click here or read about the event in our feature in the current issue of Songlines (March 2013, #90, p42).