Contemporary Ghanaian performing arts have been influenced by foreign culture, technology and education. It is a synergy of Indigenous performing arts with Western cultural forms of performing arts. There are three main forms of performing arts practiced by Ghanaians today. They are music, dance and theater.
Ghanaian contemporary music has been influenced by foreign styles and musical concepts although there is no total eradication of indigenous musical styles. Some contemporary Ghanaian musicians mix indigenous and foreign styles of music in the composition of their songs. Foreign music styles that have influenced Ghanaian music today include jazz, pop music, blues, rock and roll, reggae, ragga, R&B, Indian and Arabic songs. Contemporary Ghanaian music includes highlife which has more elements of indigenous music, hip life which merges slow lyrical choirs with Ragga or rap music. Currently there is hip-pop music which is an accurate interpretation of the western style of music although the lyrics and language are mostly Ghanaian in nature. There is also church or choral music, fanfare music, regimental or military music as well as classical music.
Several foreign musical instruments are used hand in hand with the native musical instruments. These include guitars, pianos, trumpets like saxophone, foreign drums, cymbals, etc. They are then copied to compact discs, DVDs, VCDs, EVDs, etc.
Contemporary Ghanaian music is performed in theaters, church services, parties, concerts, dance halls and parks. They are performed during church services to enhance praise and worship. They are also played during social functions like wedding parties, sporting activities and the like to entertain those in attendance. During workshops, lectures and seminars, music is played to relieve stress and boredom during the program’s intermissions. They are played to boost the morale of competitors in various forms of competition. Others are played to educate us on morality, patriotism and nationalism. There are various contests and music contests held in Ghana to promote music. These include TV3 Mentor, X-Factor, etc.
Popular Ghanaian contemporary music stars include Dr Ephraim Amu who has composed various coral songs for the Ghanaian community. Others include Agya Koo Nimo, Cindy Thompson, Yaw Sarpong, Daddy Lumba, Kojo Antwi, Nana Acheampong, Obrafo, Sarkodie etc.
Contemporary Ghanaian dance, like music, has been influenced by foreign dance styles. Some of these foreign dance styles include cracking, electric boogie, etc. The dance is performed to entertain people and to express their feelings towards each other. Contemporary Ghanaian dance forms include quickstep, mambo, waltz, foxtrot, salsa, boogie, cha-cha-cha, robot movement, twist, pause and now, Azonto. These dance styles are performed at various functions such as church, weddings, funerals, parties, durbars and festivals etc. Several dance competitions are held today in Ghana to promote dance such as the Guinness Street Dance Competition in Malta. Dancing is now a very lucrative business in contemporary Ghana.
Contemporary Ghanaian drama is performed on a theater stage. Unlike the indigenous Ghanaian drama where the audience sometimes interacts with the audience during the season, the contemporary Ghanaian drama is performed without interruption by the actors and actresses who play the various roles in the story depicted in the performance. The audience does participate, however, by clapping, booing and shouting in an attempt to express their feelings towards the performance. Contemporary Ghanaian drama includes plays, comedies, operas and cantatas.
Popular contemporary Ghanaian drama groups include the Abibigroma Drama Group, the National Dance Ensemble, the Osofo Dadzie Drama Group, the Adabraka Drama Group, and the Tsadidi Drama Group. Popular dramatic themes in contemporary Ghana include ‘The Black African Slave Trade, by the National Dance Ensemble’, ‘Ananse and the gun man’ by Joe deGraft, ‘The Phantom’s Dilemma’ ‘by Ama Ataa Aidoo and the famous’ Anansewaa Wedding’ by Efua Sunderland.
Contemporary Ghanaian drama is staged in churches and mosques to illustrate certain Christian themes in order to educate members on Christian and Muslim doctrines and the relevance of leading a good moral life in accordance with God’s principles and regulations. At social gatherings, parties and festivals, plays are performed to entertain those in attendance. Others are organized to educate the general public on social issues such as a healthy lifestyle, personal hygiene, the laws and standards of the country, patriotism, etc.