One of the profound effects of music is how it transport you back to the very moment, the very minute that you heard it first. That nostalgic transportation is something many who loves music may have experienced.
I once crowned Joe Osei the best highlife artist in Ghana, at least in 1999, after hearing his song, ‘Me P3 W’asem’ for the very first time. I even dubbed the song once from the radio on to cassette tape. To clear the voice of the presenter, i had to blow air over it.
I was living in Cape Coast then, and Skyy Power Radio in Takoradi was my favorite radio station. I used to tune in to the show hosted by Bob G from morning till Mid-day (that’s the only time the radio waves were strong). I was done with Junior High School (as they call it now). There was no better way to fill the boredom of being home than listening to radio and watching TV. And, Mr. Osei’s song was a constant tune on the station’s Mid-morning programme- ‘Highlife Jam’ hosted by Paa Kofi Abronoma. That was how I got attached to the song.
Later, I began to see the video on Metro TV’s ‘Advertising Cycle’. And each day, I made a conscious effort to watch the video of the song (due to the few number of video clips, Metro used to replay videos of some songs especially when it’s a new video).
I didn’t know who Joe Osei was till I heard the song. What drew me to ‘Me P3 W’asem’ (I Love/Admire You) was the melody of the song, the soothing, soulful voice that crooned over those horn spluttered, keyboard adorned, luxurious highlife grooves. And of course, the love -centred lyrics of the song.
Two scenarios bubbled to the fore listening to the song. In one instance, Joe Osei seemed like a man musing about a lady he admired. The other scenario is him exalting the lovely attributes of his lover is and his willingness to do everything for her.
Until ‘Me P3 W’asem’, I’d never heard of his name. In my mind, he was a new voice on the scene. But, as the song grew in popularity, albeit the album, which was titled the same as the lead single (album’s poor performance in Ghana was attributed to its poor promotion in Ghana), it became clear he was an ‘old guard’. Legendary musician, Gyedu Blay Ambolley, I recall mentioning him in an interview as his contemporary.
Joe Osei wasn’t to become a musician, as his parents had hoped. Hence, their reason for sending him to England for further studies in 1979. He formed a group, ‘Jagado’ two years into his studies at Waltham Forest College. In 1972, when Ghana hosted Ike and Tina Turner and others at the ‘Soul 2 Soul Concert’, Joe Osei, who had formed the ‘Coconut 7’ with Yaw Barimah, were among the opening acts.
‘Me P3 W’asem’, unfortunately was the only song I’ve heard from Joe Osei till date. And anytime I hear it, my mind goes back to 1999 when Metro TV’s ‘Ad Cycle’ and Skyy Power Radio weren’t only my go to sources of entertainment, but also introduced me to Joe Osei, whom I still consider the best in 1999.