“There is so much anger in the world that money is just not enough anymore. Healing of the heart, soul and mind is what people need…” – Yaa Yaa
Bertha Bridget Kankam, known by her stage name as Yaa Yaa, was born on January 25, 1990. She is from a family of seven, with two sisters and two brothers. She went to Martyrs of Uganda Preparatory School and Junior Secondary School.
She later went to St. Louis Senior High School, Kumasi, and then proceeded to the University OF Ghana, where she attained a Bachelor’s degree in Theatre Arts with Music. She is currently a student at Alliance Francaise d’Accra studying French. She enjoys playing the guitar, singing, writing songs and reading.
MM Focus caught up with this lovely songstress for a brief chat…
MM: Most musicians say music started for them in church; do you have a similar story? How did music really start for you and how did you get where you are today?
YY: Music for me started at home with my family. My mum, who sings, started grooming me vocally at home and together with my dad, got me and my sisters a piano teacher, and a guitar instructor for my brothers. In class four, I joined my basic school choir while getting music training at home. I took advantage of any opportunity to showcase my singing talent and that also served as preparation for my current career.
MM: Which famous musician(s) did you admire and learn from?
YY: The famous musicians that I admire are two – Whitney Houston (of blessed memory) and Kojo Antwi. Whitney is a whole package that you have to slowly unwrap. When it comes to performance and vocal dexterity, especially, she has it all. For Kojo, I would say that he is original. Though he got international acclamation, he still stayed true to his roots. He made me proud to be a Ghanaian anytime I listened to him. He is also a very good writer, who has inspired me to write good music as well.
MM: What genre of music do you have an inclination towards (name up to three)?
YY: Okay for genre of music I would say Soul, RnB and Highlife: soul because of its vocals and how it speaks to the heart and mind of a person. It has the ability to grasp people and make them pay attention. With highlife, I would say it is mainly because I grew up in Kumasi. The cultural background and environment is such that you get exposed to highlife music on a daily basis. And lastly RnB; in my years of growing up, RnB was in vogue. Most RnB artistes like Brandy were very talented and that was what got me to like that genre.
MM: What are your fondest musical memories?
YY: When I was 8 years old, I used to go to other basic schools to teach their choir together with my choir instructor. I did this for about 6 years.
MM: How do you balance your music with other obligations such as your social life?
YY: My musical career has, in one way or the other, affected the places that I go. This is because of the kind of attention I get anytime I go out public. My social life is almost non-existence because even when I am out, I go to places where I can learn something music-wise. If I should ever do something socially, it will be to go to Kumasi to spend time with my family and then back to Accra. So I would just say that my music and social life are kind of intertwined now.
MM: We have long recognized the therapeutic nature of music and understood music as a powerful communication tool: what will you say your music achieves and what future do you see for your music?
YY: My music engages the heart and the mind. I always say that getting into the minds of people with music to let them know they are not alone is very important. I also compose music that has the potency to motivate and inspire people to achieve more and not give up. Lastly, my music serves as an educational tool for music lovers. Someone can learn a thing or two about good writing, vocals and performance through my music.
MM: Where do you see yourself, five years from now, as a musician?
YY: Apart from excelling as a singer – songwriter, I have set up a company called Pyramid Entertainment, which is aimed at helping young talented people. Apart from the core team, we work with, we also hire other people on contract basis if we need to organize one event or the other. This is my little way of contributing to unemployment and also helping young creative people to be achievers. I will say it is my way of giving back to society.
MM: What are your up-to-date performance plans? New releases?
YY: My newest release “Dumb Drum” got three nominations for the Ghana Music Awards 2016(Best Female Vocalist of the Year, Best Music Video of the Year and Record of the Year). I am currently working on my debut album; this is set to be released by the end of this year, 2016.
MM: How do you deal with competition?
YY: I focus on my music and do not look at what other people do. I believe that if you keep concentrating on others, you may lose the beauty of your originality. God has given everyone something unique and a different path in life; that path is what I intend to follow in order to achieve my purpose in life.
MM: What word of advice would you give to up and coming artiste?
YY: To young artistes, I would say be yourself. There is no age limit to being successful. You need to focus on your talents and music, not the celebrity status. We have a lot of young people who only aim at stardom. When they do not get what they want, they get frustrated and would do just about anything for fame; this can lead you astray. Work hard at your craft and with time, people will begin to notice you.
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