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Ghana’s Efya Has Got The New Twist On Afro-Soul

Ghana’s Efya Has Got The New Twist On Afro-Soul
Photo courtesy of the artist

Expect big things from this big voice

By Beverly Bryan
December 3, 2012

Name: Efya, (pron. Eh-fee-ah) known also as Jane Awindor

Where She’s From: Accra, Ghana

When She Started: 2009

Genre: Neo-Soul with a splash of neon

Most Similar: Nneka, Asa

Sounds Like: A warm, complex blend of influences from Erykah Badu to Miriam Makeba

One of the risingest stars in Ghana today, singer Efya is becoming a byword with a combination of chart topping potency and an independent spirit. Though she rose to fame through the musical reality TV show Stars of Tomorrow, Efya quickly distinguished herself as much more than raw talent and in 2011 she won Best Female vocal performance at the Ghana Music Awards. Since breaking away from her part as Jane in the singing duo Irene and Jane, the soul singer has done solid collaborations with dudes like Sarkodie, R2BeesEL and M.anifest and her hotly anticipated debut album promises to be just as sound.

An Efya track may display the catch-your-breath prowess of a Kelly Rowland single but there’s usually an unexpected twist, something just slightly left of center, an offhand vocal flourish, or maybe a quirky nod to another era of Afropop. But, whether through stripped back reinventions of African rhythms or lyrics spiked with Ghanaian slang, her music always speaks to and about the present moment.

Her greatest strength, though, is her versatility. She can slide from silvery heights to a heart-achey, note-fraying baby rasp with a speed that could make you a bit dizzy. Small wonder then that South African jazz legend Hugh Masekela saw so much potential for the young artist to grow, provided she has all the space she needs. He said of her, “a person like Efya needs her own club, like Fela had the shrine.”

No word on Efya’s club yet, but she certainly has her own growing fan club and we are considering building a shrine to her at MTV Iggy HQ.  Watch this live clip of her performing “Cigarette” in New York and you’ll be writing away for your official Efya fan club merch yourself.

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