He is mostly referred to as the 'Father of African Art Music', considering his research and contributions in propelling African Art Music to this height - Prof. Johan Hanson Kwabena Nketia as a special gift to choral music this week (Wednesday) marked his 95th Birthday.
He is known for his research works in the area of choral music, including the introduction of the 6/8 time signature amongst others, The Choral Page celebrates the man whose genius has propelled choral music to such a magnitude.
The choral page caps a birthday eulogy from two great choral composers, Rev. Newlove Kojo Annan and George Mensah Essilfie, in celebration of the 95th birthday of the 'Adanse Kronkron' man, revered for his choral works.
People like Dr. Ephraim Amu and Emeritus Prof. J.H. Kwabena Nketia are special gifts. They are true icons and legendary, because they understood that there's no deeper way of representing the soul of a people, than through their culture, and most importantly, through their song/music.
For this reason, I call them "the African Creative Music Titans".
They wrote music for the piano, like Bach, Beethoven and Mozart. But, in their music, they made the foreign instrument "speak" the language of the African.
They fashioned music for human voices, using Western musical elements such as harmony, part writing and form, but there too, their goal was to make the African "tongue" and sensibility have prominence over the music.
On this occasion of the 95th birthday of Emeritus Prof Joseph Hanson Kwabena Nketia, I wish to thank him and Dr. Ephraim Kwaku Amu, on behalf of all who believe in the power and beauty of African Music, for forging the path for us to be "fully" expressive through our music and its creative potentiality.
Over your long, accomplished career, you have inspired musicians and scholars, both in our motherland and abroad. Using your musical talents, research and knowledge, you have taught many how to respect cultural differences through music.
On a more personal note, I consider you to be one of my most significant and formative role models. I had the opportunity of meeting you during "The Otomfo Concert" in Ghana, August, 2015, of which I was the Featured Composer.
I was awed by your vast interests, skills, and knowledge. Intellectually, you have few peers. At the ripe age of 94, your mind was quick and sharp. You were still forming concepts and grasping thoughts quickly.
You encouraged me to keep on being innovative, and discussed at length, new trends in my field.
I was amazed by the way you expounded both the abstract and practical with ease.
You rescheduled your travel itinerary to make way for your presence at my concert.
You continue to inspire and encourage up and coming musicians in Ghana, and this is evident in your attendances and remarks at musical concerts around the nation.
Such a person as Prof. Nketia is God's precious gift to our dear nation, Ghana, the African Continent, and the world at large.
Thank you for your efforts that have helped create a powerful musical and intellectual oasis, and your legacy will always stand as a unique contribution to the music world.
To Prof. J. H Nketia:
I am looking at your recent pictures and wondering if they got it all wrong and posted 95th instead of your 70th birthday.
As a matter of fact, you make 95 look very young. May you continue to be highly favoured by God as you celebrate your 95th birthday.