Saturday, August 6 • 1:30pm • The Bowl
Paa Kow is an internationally renowned drum set player, bandleader, composer, and producer. Growing up in the small village of Enyan Denkyira near Cape Coast in Ghana, West Africa, Paa Kow began to play music and tour with his family’s concert band at a very early age. He has since grown to be widely recognized as one of the most remarkable drummers across the globe. Paa Kow’s deep groove and prodigious talent reveal a unique ability to speak to listeners with his drums, inspiring a profound spiritual conversation. His songs are captivating and danceable and incorporate lyrics in his native language, Fante, as well as English. Paa Kow’s vision is to spread the music and culture of his homeland by touring the world with his Afro-Fusion orchestra.
In the small Ghanaian village of Enyan Denkyira, where Paa Kow was born, there was no electricity until he was 13 years old. As children, they would often entertain themselves by singing and making music any way they could. Paa Kow fashioned drums out of metal cans, wire, and a fertilizer bag, which he used to practice for hours every day. He even built his own drum pedal using a door hinge, some string, and an old sandal. Using instruments sent from Germany and a generator, the band would tour to other villages without electricity and provide the entertainment for the night.
At his first performance on drum set, Paa Kow’s feet could not reach the pedals so he had to stand and play. As he grew, so did his talent. Paa Kow became famous in the region as the “Small-boy Drummer.” On one occasion, when his band mates weren’t looking, he hid inside of the bass drum and was packed into the back of the van for a tour. When they got to the first town, the band was quite surprised to see Paa Kow crawling out of the drum.
At the age of 14, he left and began touring with other notable concert bands in the area. Shortly after, he landed a gig in the town of Winneba with the government owned dance band called “New Creation.” It was with this band that he travelled to Accra and was discovered by Ghanaian pop star Amakye Dede). Amakye loved Paa Kow’s playing so much that he offered his parents front money to let him move with him to the capital.
Once again Paa Kow’s exceptional talent was quickly noticed throughout Accra and within a short time he was playing with other well-known musicians including George Darko, Kojo Antwi, and Nat Brew. Playing with these artists gave Paa Kow his first chance to tour outside of Ghana to Switzerland, Scotland, Belgium, Amsterdam, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Togo, Egypt, and Nigeria.
While living in Accra, Paa Kow had a chance meeting with a traveling student from University of Colorado named, Peyton Shuffield. He was looking for a drummer to study with and all roads led to Ghana’s best and youngest talent. The friendship was instantaneous and Peyton decided he wanted to help Paa Kow share his talent with the world. In 2007, with the support of CU professor Dr. Kwasi Ampene, Paa Kow was invited to UC as a guest artist and teacher.
Paa Kow’s musical and cultural exchange with musicians in the U.S. gave rise to his Afro-Fusion sound. With his group, Paa Kow put together materials for his debut album “Hand Go Hand Come.” They present this early masterpiece of rhythmic precision, talented lyricism, and original fusion of West African Pop with Jazz impressions.