New York based Ghanaian musician John Q talks love, happiness, and respect in a Tuff Gong inspired reggae album
John Kwesi Quansah is no stranger to music. A former student of the Reverend John Teye Memorial Institute, Accra, a school noted for honing the musical skills of its students, his maiden album, Feel Good Reggae, will be released before the end of the year.
Already, some of the tracks on the album are popular with reggae fans. Songs like Born Alone, Reggae Babaoo, Rain and Sun, continue to receive airplay on a good number of radio stations in the United States, London, Ghana and Jamaica.
Recorded at Tuff Gong studio founded by the late Bob Marley, John Q, as he’s popularly called, sings in English, Twi and Ga. He’s also fluent in Spanish. Despite the album being his first, officially, John Q’s love affair with music started in his teenage years. Exposed to different genres of music while growing up, he settled on reggae after hearing Bob Marley’s song “One Drop.”
“There’s something in the song that I still struggle to put a finger on,” he said in an interview.
He soon became a devotee of Bob Marley and as his interest continued to grow, he kept discovering more of words. He was soon to be sold to reggae and has never looked back. Though a trained health safety expert and entrepreneur, music is embedded in his genes. It’s therefore not surprising that he plays both the guitar and keyboard, and writes his own songs. He’s currently working on the script for the video of the song Born Alone, likely to be shot in Jamaica.
Born in Ghana, he migrated to the United States to further his education. For somebody steeped in music, the decision to study science related courses might be somewhat puzzling. But coming from a family with bias in both science and law, it was only natural he followed that path. He admits tension between his affection for music and science often comes up, but he often manages to snake his way through without sacrificing any of them for the other.
Though he admits to abandoning music at some point in time so he could focus on other things, he found the addiction for reggae wouldn’t just go away.
“I have this love and hate relationship with music and it’s been like that for years.”
He soon began putting words on paper and after more than a year of researching strands of ideas, he came up with the lyrics of each song. Determined to produce an album comparable to the heavy weights in the reggae business, he was introduced to Sydney Mills, keyboard player for Grammy award winning band Steel Pulse in New York, and a recording at Tuff Gong studio followed. Sydney produced the album.
John Q says he sees reggae music as an opportunity to champion the cause of the vulnerable in society, and believes the album is a perfect respond to the cause.