His Early Life
Charles Kofi Mann (Amankwandoh – popularly known as C.K Mann) was born in Cape Coast in the central region of Ghana. Born to Madam Maame Benyiwa and Mr Claude Amanquandoh Mann in 1236, his early life began in Agona Swedru after his mother died and his father relocated to the town. Born into a very modest family, he received no formal education. However, naturally endowed with beautiful voice, his father chanced on the talent of the young chap when he gathered his friends at twilights to sing to them. That was the farthest he could go; gather his friends and sing to them as his father was unable to help him develop his talent. Burning with the desire to achieve something for himself, he migrated to Takoradi at a tender age of fourteen in search of a better life. However Takoradi was no bed of roses. Not knowing anyone, coupled with the unfamiliarity of the terrain, his sleeping places were in kiosks and shops in Market Circle and made his living from petty trading, carpentry and tailoring. His big break eventually came when he had his first stunt as a seaman but had to retire early to pursue his passion – music.
His Musical Life
His started in the 1950 when he and his friend El Gran Kofi met at the Prempeh Cinema HMI to witness the rehearsals of the Broadway Dance Band and enjoy good music. Following their love for music, they impressed on M. Kwesi Rebop Aggrey, a Broadway Band guitarist to teach them guitar playing. Though Mr. Aggrey did not get the time to directly teach the friends, C.K. Mann had the opportunity to learn the rudiments of playing the guitar from his friend El Gran Koffie who was then reading a guitar tutor book Mr. Aggrey had acquired for him. This experience marked the beginning of a career that was to run for decades.
In 1960, C.K. Mann was engaged by Mr. S.S Ahimah, a mausic director of Broadway Band to play for the Broadway Combo, the third band formed by the Broadway Cinema Company. The Band played in clubs like the Sports club, Railway Officer’s club and the Saddle club. These clubs were then patronized by the white expatriates and the elite in Secondi-Takoradi.
On hearing about Moses Kweku Oppong and his Kakaiku Band in 1962, C.K. Mann travelled to Tarkwa-Aboso to play for the band for about four years. He later joined the Ocean Seven Band in 1966 and led it until 1969. His team of players included Entsuah and Arkoful. In the early ’70s, the owner of Princess Cinema, Anis Mubarak invited CO. to lead the Carousel Seven, a newly formed resident band of the Princess night club.
Together with Papa Yankson as backing vocalist, the Carousel Seven Band gained popularity in the shortest possible time. C.K’s dedication and hard work paid off as he began composing his own songs holding a basic “Osode” beat with a solo guitar. With this unique beat, C. K. Mann shot into the limelight and prominence with his single record “Edina Benye”. The “Osode” beat resonated well with most fisher folks and eventually became the traditional music of the fisher men of Ghana. In his own words, he said; “the raw and pure “Osode” vocal ensernble is quite unique and can’t be equaled by anyone other than the fishermen folk”. With time, C.K. Mann changed the instrumentation of the u0sode.’ beat to appeal to a wider audience. He however did this without losing the original ingredients such as the hand-claps, and the call and response style of singing that made “Osode” popular. In 1971, a record deal arrangement was made between him, Mr. Dick Essilfie Bondzie and his friend El Gran and signed to record for Essibon Records.
This deal resulted in the recording of the first major hit – Nyimpa Rebr3 and Araba Lucy. C. K. Mann interest in Latin American Rhythms also helped in infusing Salsa into some of his recordings such as Matow Abowa.
A major landmark of his life was when he founded his own band (C.K. Mann and the Masters Band) which saw him release a number of hit albums. He was the first musician to introduce -wind instruments” (saxophone and trumpet) into his music when these were unknown in many parts of Ghana. The .Osode” also earned him popularity around the world and in 1983, on the invitation of some friends; C.K. Mann toured the United States of America with his music for ten years.
Upon his arrival from US, he set up the Super Seven Band and a recording studio. Here he recorded “Wope Nye Ho” and “Nnoma Etumtum”. His benevolence led him to train a lot of seasoned Ghanaian and international musicians some of whom are alive today. His musical career spanned well over four decades and his enduring contribution to In 1976, the state of Indianapolis (USA) gave highlife music in Ghana earned him residential status through a citizenship accolade “Highlife Legend”. The multitalented musician was also a guitarist. In the year 2005, he received a MUSIGA Merit pianist and producer. Award of the year. He also received a MUSIGA Honours Award for music excellence in 2017.
His Genre of Music
His genre of music was African Traditions, Highlife, Salsa, Afro-beat and Gospel.
Popular songs of C.K. Mann include; Adwoa Yankey, M’atow Aboa, Medo Wo ( I love you), Medi Meho Bema Onyame, Mawere Kyekyer, Asem Asa, Alaba Lucy, Fawokoma Ma Me, “Asafo Beesuon”, “Obaa Yaa Aye Me Bone”, “Kolomashie”, “Dofo Bi Akyerew Me”, “Ankwasema Dede”, “Okwan Tsentsen Awar”, “Aboa Akonkoran”, “Beebi a Odo Wo”, “Tsie M’afotusem”, “Ebusua Ape Adze Aye Me”, “Yebeyi Wo Aye”, and “Do Me ma Mondo Wo Bi” among other hit songs.
C.K. Mann won multiple awards for his songs and his contributions to highlife music in Ghana. In 2006, Ex-president John Agyekum Kuffour honoured him with a Grand Medal of Ghana during the 2006 National Honours and Awards Ceremony. He was among the first recipient of this award after the ceremony was revamped in 2006. During the 50- Independence Anniversary celebration of the Republic of Nigeria, Ex-President Goodluck Jonathan honored him with the Life Time Achievers Award in the category of outstanding Ghanaian Highlife Innovator.
In recognizing his contributions to raising the banner of Sekondi /Takoradi high, a street and a football park in Anaji (a suburb of Takoradi) have been named after him.
C.K. MANN FOUNDATION Music was not his only passion. In the year 2006, he established the C.K. Mann Foundation, a non-governmental organization aimed to give back to society by providing support to the needy but brilliant children in the Secondi/ Takoradi metropolis.
C.K. Mann had been sick for close to three years. While the children, family and MUSIGA hoped that he would recuperate, God who knows best called him into eternal glory on March 20th, 2018. He was blessed with eleven children.
ODUPON KESE ETUTU…. NANA AMANQUANDOH, DAMIRIFA DUE….
C.K. MANN DA YIE