Koo Nimo is a living legend from Ghana, playing multiple forms of traditional music, as well as new music, informed by Western influences.
Nimo (also known as Daniel Amponsah, from his days in London) grew up as part of the royal family of Ghana (his sister married the king), where he learned to play the traditional red and black kete drums of the royal ensembles. By the time he was 19, he was teaching drumming, guitar, and brass band music in his native village of Foase. While in London thereafter on a chemistry scholarship, he took formal instruction in guitar. After returning to Ghana, he took a position as chief laboratory technician in the chemistry department of the University of Science and Technology in Kumasi (where he retired in 1998). He remained an active musician during this time and was the head of the Musicians Union. In 1957, he formed the Ghanaian roots ensemble Adadam Agofomma, which received considerable acclaim. Along with the kete drumming he learned in his youth, he became a virtuoso in the palmwine guitar style, a complicated pattern of two-finger picking. It is this palmwine style for which he is most famous. His playing is influenced heavily by brass band highlife (an earlier phenomenon in urban Africa), American giants such as Charlie Christian, as well as Spanish guitar styles. He is one of the most respected artists in African music, though he ignores the Afro-beat style. He was the first Ghanaian to release a CD, Osabarima. He has received the Grand Medal for Lifetime Service to Ghana, and huge acclaim worldwide, playing in Europe, Africa, and America (Lincoln Center in 1988). He is currently holding a position as Visiting Artist in Residence at the University of Washington's ethnomusicology department. ~ Adam Greenberg, Rovi