Home | Contact Us | Employment Opportunities | Site Map | Enquiry       

Department of Music

 Back to Performing Arts
Quick Links
 Department of Music  Staff
Music Department
pdf print preview send to friend

John COLLINS is a full Professor in the Department of Music. He joined the University in 1995 after receiving his Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology from the State University of New York at Buffalo. Prof Collins is also a consultant for the  MUSIGA Technical and Steering Committee of the of Music Industry Stakeholders Meetings’ (organised by MUSIGA in association with the World Bank.

Contact e-mail: jcollins@ug.edu.gh

2003 Invited to be on the Editorial Board of the International Journal of Humanistic Studies of the University of Swaziland, editor Dr. (Mrs.) Foluke Ogunleye.

2010 to date I have been a Reviewer for the African Humanities Program of the American Council of Learned Societies, New York, for their annual AHP African Fellowship Competition

2012 Invited on to the editorial board of the Nigerian IKENGA Journal of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Institute of African Studies, by its Director Prof. Sam. Onuigbo Director

2012 Became member of the Peer Review Group for the Council for the Development of Social Sciences in Africa organization CODESRIA.

1994 Became a Resident Fellow of Northwestern University’s Institute for the Advanced Study and Research into the African Humanities 1993/4 program ‘The Enscription of the Material World’ with Dr. Karin Barber as Preceptor.

1991-7 Member of the National Folklore Board of Trustees/ Copyright Administration

2000-2002, In June 2000 Presented a paper in Washington DC on the Music Industry of Six African Countries for the World Bank and the Yale based Policy Science Center. Became member of World Bank working committee on above project headed by Michael Finger, lead economist of the World Bank’s Poverty Reduction and Economic Network (PREN) Department. Then in 2002 I became a Consultant for the World Bank project to assist the African music industry, working in Ghana with MUSIGA (Musicians Union of Ghana ), GOMAWA (the Ghana Old Musicians and Artists Welfare Association, the GCPU (Ghana Concert Parties Union) and the Ghana Actors Guild .

2002-5 Organiser of the joint US Public Affairs Section/ BAPMAF ‘Jazz Returns to Africa’ lecture/concert series held at the National Theatre, Accra in February-March 2002. And then again for the US Embassy’s February 2005 ‘African American Heritage/Black History Month’ that was a 19 event program entitled ‘Uniting Africa’s Past, Present and Future through Celebrating its Performing, Visual and Literary Arts’. Because of my connection with the US Embassy, between 2003-5 I was able to obtain for the University Music Dept (I was then HoD) donations (instruments, DVD player, books and videos) and a small grant of 6,000 US dollars help run the Process of Arts program, buy and repair instruments, acquire some office and teaching equipment and compile and print 70 non-commercial copies of a score book entitled ‘Classic Highlife tunes’ that was freely distributed to Ghanaian students and universities

2003 Became a member of nine person panel of UNESCO on safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage: Traditional Music and Dance, at UNESCO Headquarters, Paris 15-16 December 2003.

2007 Became a member of the Board of the Ghanaian Fund for Development and Exchange of the Royal Danish Embassy in Ghana and the Danish Centre for Culture and Development . In this capacity I was able, between 2008-9, to arrange for a grant (paid in three instalments) totalling 14,417 Ghana cedis, for the University Music Dept to acquire guitars, brass band instruments, local drums and xylophones

2008 I became a member of the Ghana Studies Council.

1998 Given the Ghana National ACRAG Arts Award at the National for thirty years
pioneering research into highlife music and sixteen years of running the low-budget Bokoor Recording Studio.

2003 One month residency February-March 2003 at Dartington College of Arts, UK.

2003-2005 Six week residency (May-July, 2003 ) and then a one month residency (June-July 2005) at the German University of Hannover Music and Theatre Department. This was in connection with a three year project to study the Volkswagen-Stiftung financed Music of Migrant Ghanaians in Germany Project. I was also able to help arrange student exchange program between the Music Depts. of the Universities of Hannover and Ghana

2005 Given a Millenium Excellence Award (Arts Award)

2008 Given another ACRAG Award at the National Theatre for my contribution to local Popular Music

2009 Co -convener (with Dr. Mike White) of the New York University Faculty Network Resource one-week Seminar on ‘The African Roots of Jazz’, 2009, New York.

2007/8 I was a Research Associate with the Institute of African Studies CEGENSA (Centre for Gender Studies and Advocacy) and helped provide documentation for them as well as select and organise 300 Ghanaian popular songs from the 1930-present - relevant to gender issues.

Research into the life and works of the Nigerian Afro-beat music pioneer Fela Anikulapo-Kuti with whom I worked in the1970s. This culminated in the publication of my book in 2009 of entitled ‘Fela: Kalakuta Notes’, published by the book section of the Dutch Royal Tropical Institute, Amsterdam.

Research into the eighty year relationship between Ghanaian and Nigerian Highlife that resulted in my book ‘West African Highlife Giants’ being published by the Cassava Republic Press, Abuja, Nigeria.

I have Just updated the third edition of my book ‘Highlife Time’ originally published by Anansesem Press, Accra in 1994 and 1996.

Continuing work on King Bruce of the Black Beats band. My original work done in the late 1980s and has been upgraded and some extra information has been supplied by King Bruce’s son, Eddie Bruce .This book called ‘King Bruce: The Making of a Ghanaian Highlife Legend’ is now finished and is with the publishers, Smartline Publishers Limited Accra.

Finished a chapter in 2010 entitled ‘ Contemporary Ghanaian Popular Music Since the 1980s’ for the forthcoming book edited by Professor Eric Charry entitled ‘Hip Hop Africa: New African Music in a Globalising World’, being published by the University of Indiana University Press.

I am half way through a new book on the impact of jazz and Latin music on West African popular music - tentatively entitled ‘West African Pioneers of Jazz & Latin Fusion Music

Ongoing collection of photographs, recorded materials, documents, books, posters and memorabilia associated with African popular performance that is part of the BAPMAF Music Institute & Highlife Museum that I helped established in 1990. Have catalogued and digitised BAPMAF holding that include 1,200 photographs, 1,600 hours of music, 700 publications and 80 videos.

Working on a biography on the Nigerian highlife musicians that I began in the 1970s when I worked and recorded with him. This is now being upgraded and the resulting book ‘Victor Uwaifo, Highlife Pioneer: Legend’ is being prepared for Taijo Wonukabe Publications Limited, Nigeria .

Working right now with MUSIGA and the KPMAG consultancy company in gathering statistics and putting together an a analysis of the current state of the Ghanaian music Industry: its various sectors, internal record sales, the Ghanaian component of the world music market, the importance of tourist industry, copyright problems, the size of the of the industry in terms of the GDP and the number of people working in the industry. These research findings will be presented to the government early next year.


1. Comic Opera in Ghana In African Arts, U.C.L.A., California, Vol.9, No. 2, January 1976, pp. 50-57.

2. Ghanaian Highlife. In African Arts, U.C.L.A., California, Vol.9 10,No. 1, October 1976, pp. 62-8 and 100.

3. Post-war Popular Bands in West Africa, In African Arts, U.C.L.A., California vol. 10, No.3, April 1977, pp. 53-60.

4. West African Music: An Audio-visual Teaching Aid (with R. Graham), Pub. by the Afro-Asian Resources Centre, Newmann College Birmingham, 1980.

5. West African Music: Suggestions for an Interpretive Framework (with Dr. Paul Richards). First published in Popular music Perspectives, Exeter and Goteborg (eds) ). Tagg and D. Horne, 1982, pp. 111-141. Reprinted under the title ‘Popular Music in West Africa’ in World music, Politics and Social Change, (ed) Simon Frith, Manchester University Press, 1989, pp. 12-67.

6. Crisis in the Ghanaian Music Industry. In Velernen Was Mich Stumm Mach, (ed) Al Imfeld, Uionsverlag, Zurich, 1980, pp. 226-228.

7. The Concert Party in Ghana. In Musical Traditions, Exeter (ed) Keith Summers, No. 4, 1985, pp. 37-39.

8. Jazz Feedback to Africa. In American Music, (ed) John Graziano, published by the Sonneck Society/University of Illinois Press, Vol.5, No. 2, Summer 1987, pp. 176-193.

9. Comic Opera in Ghana. In Ghanaian Literatures: Critical Perspectives, (ed) Richard Priebe, Greenwood Press, Westport, Connecticut, 1988, pp. 61-72.

10. African Music Strengthens Cultural Autonomy. In group media Journal, (ed) Sheila O’Connell, published by SONOLUX, Munich, Vol. VIII, No. 4, 1989, pp. 17-21.

11. The Early History of West African Highlife Music. In Popular Music, (ed) Ian Fairley and Stan Rijven, University of Cambridge Press, 1989, Vol. 8, No.3 pp. 221-230.

12. Article on West African Popular Music (translated into Japanese) for Japanese Noise: Music Magazine, (ed. Toyo Nakamuru), Tokyo, Number 1, Spring 1989.

13. Running a Band, a Music Studio and Music Archives in Ghana. In Proceedings of the AVA-90 Conference, Fayum, Sweden, (eds) Tellef Kvifte and Gunnar Ternhag, published by the Dalarna Research Council of Sweden/University of Oslo, 1990, pp. 9-19.

14. African Music in the Space Age: The Agbadza Drums. In Music Letter journal edited and published by Charles Keil of SUNY Buffalo, 1990, pp. 57-68. Reprinted in edited form as ‘Traditional Hot and Cool Rhythms’ in west African Pop Roots, by John Collins, Temple University Press, 1992, pp. 1-16. Reprinted in full form as ‘The Traditional Musical Background’; in Highlife Time by John Collins, Anansesem Press, Accra, 1996, pp. 113-122.

15. Die Populare Music in Westafrika Nach Dem Zweiten Weltkrieg. In Populare Musik if Africa (ed) Veit Erlmann, published by the Museum Fur Volkekunde, Berlin, 1991, pp. 15-31.

16. Folklore – Some Problems of Copyright. In Ghana Copyright News, issue 3, Jan 1991-Dec.1992, pp. 17-19. Based on a paper presented at the National Workshop on Copyright held by the Ghana Copyright Administration, the Ghana National Commission on Culture and the World Intellectual Property Organisation, WIPO, at the Academy of African Music and Arts, AAMA, at Kokrobite, Accra Oct. 9-11th 1990.

17. Some Anti-Hegemonic Aspects of African Popular Music. In Rockin’ The Boat (ed) Reebee Garafalo, Southern Press, Boston, 1992, pp. 185-194.

18. The Concert Party: Popular Entertainment and the Ghanaian School Syllabus (NAFAC 92 PAPER). In The Empowerment of culture (eds) Ad Boeren and Kees A. Epskamp, published by the Centre fo the Study of Education in Developing countries (CESO), The Hague, CESO Paperback No. 17, 1992, pp. 171-177.

19. The Problems of Oral Copyright. In Music and Copyright (ed) Simon Frith, Edinburgh University Press, 1994, pp. 194, pp. 146-158.

20. Interview with John Collins on the Cultural Policy, Folklore and Recording Industry of Ghana, by Cynthia Schmidt.In The Guitar in /Africa:The 1950’s – 90’s (ed. Cynthia Schmidt) In The World of Music published by the International Institute for Traditional Music, Germany, volume 36, number 2, 1994, pp. 138-147.

21. The Ghanaian Concert Party. In Glendora Review, African Quarterly on the Arts (ed) Dapo Adeniyi, Lagos, vol. 1, No. 4. 1996, pp. 85-88.

22. Music Feedback: African-American’s Music in Africa. In Issue, A Journal of Opinion (eds) B. Hawk and L. Brock, published by the African Studies Association of the USA, Vol. XXIV. No. 2, 1996, pp. 26-27.

23. Fela and the Black President Film. In Glendora African Quarterly of the Arts, (ed) Dapo Adeniyi, Lagos, Vol. 2, No. 2, 1997, pp.57-73

24. The Evolution of West African Popular Entertainment. . The Encyclopedia of Sub-Saharan Africa (ed) John Middleton, Charles Scribner and Sons Reference Books, U.S.A. 1999.’

25. Ghana Entry (with Ronnie Graham) for the Rough Guide to World Music,Volume 1, (eds. S. Broughton, M. Ellingham and R. Trillo). Published by Rough Guide/Penguin, London, 1999, pp.488-498

26. Hitechnology, Individual Copyright and Ghanaian Music, in the book Ghana: Changing Values/Changing Technologies, (ed) Helen Lauer, published by the Council for Research in Values and Philosophy, U.S.A, 2000, pp.183-2001

27. Paper on the African Music Industry. For the June 20th 2000 Workshop of the World Bank on Developing the Music Industry in Africa.. Available from the Policy Science Center, 127 Wall St. Room 314, BOX 208215, New Haven, CT. 06529-8215.
Web site: www.worldbank.org/research/trade/africa_music2.htm

28. La Musique Populaire de L’Ouest Africain Anglophone, in Notre Librarie: Literatures du Nigeria et du Ghana:2 (ed. Jean-Louis Joubert) published by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Number 141, July-September 2000, pp. 114-118.]

29. The Generational Factor in Ghanaian Music: Concert Parties, Highlife, Simpa, Kpanlogo and Gospel, Article in Playing With Identities in the Contemporary Music of Africa, (eds. M. Palmberg and A. Kirkegaard), Published by the Nordic African Institute/Sibelius Museum Apo, Finland. 2002. pp 60-74.

30. Three articles on the Ghanaian Music Industry (A Quarter Century of Problems:The Way Forwards: The Gospel Boom) In West Africa Magazine , London, 19-25th August 2002 (issue 4339) pp 8-13.

31. Eight entries (on the Ghanaian/Liberian popular music and recording industry) for the Continuum Encyclopaedia of Popular Music of the World Vols. I and II (eds. John Shepherd, David Horn, Dave Laing, Paul Oliver & Peter Wicke) published by Cassell, London, March-May 2003.

32. The ‘Folkloric Copyright Tax’ Problem in Ghana. Media Development, the Journal of the World Association for Christian Communication, London. No. 1, 2003, pp 10-14.

33. Fela and the Black President Film: A Diary. Chapter in the book Fela: From West Africa to West Broadway, (ed) Trevor Schoonmaker, Palgrave/Macmillan Press, June 2003. 2003, pp. 55-77.

34. Ghanaian Women Enter into Popular Entertainment. Humanities Review Journal, (ed) Dr. Foluke M. Ogunleye, Vol. 3, No.1, (ISBN 1596-0749), Published by the Humanities Research Forum, University of Idadan and Obefemi Awolowo University, Nigeria, June 2003, pp.1-10.

35. Music and Mathematics. In: History of Philosophy and Science for African Undergraduates, (ed) Helen Lauer, Hope Publications, Ibadan, Nigeria, 2003, pp. 688-678. (ISBN No 978-37018-0-0)

36. Urban Anxiety and its Sonic Response. Glendora Review, Lagos, Nigeria, (ed.) Olakunle Tejuoso, Vol. 3, No, 2 & 4, 2004, pp 23-8.

37. Entry on Music: West African “Highlife”. For African Folklore: An Encyclopedia, (eds) Phillip Peek and Kwesi Yankah. Routledge, New York and London 2004, pp. 275-276.

38. The African American Impact on Anglophone West Africa. VAD June 2004 Conference Paper. Published on the VAD website, www.vad-ev.de, (ed) Verena Uka, University of Hannover, Department of History, Germany, 2004.

39. Ghanaian Christianity and Popular Entertainment: Full Circle. History in Africa, (ed. David Henige, Wisconsin University) Number 31, 2004, pp. 389-391.

40. The Decolonisation of Ghanaian Popular Entertainment. In Urbanization and African Cultures, (eds). Toyin Falola and Steven Salm. Carolina Academic Press, North Carolina, USA, 2005, pp.119-137.

41. Ghanaian Popular Performance and the Urbanisation Process: 1900-1980. Transactions: Journal of the Historical Society of Ghana, New Series, No, 8, 2004, pp. 203-226.

42. A Social History of Ghanaian Popular Entertainment since Independence.Published in Transactions: Journal of the Ghana Historical Society (eds: Irene Odotey & Per Hernaes) New Series 9, University of Ghana, 2005, pp 17-40.

43. One Hundred years of Censorship in Ghanaian Popular Music Performance. In Popular Music Censorship in Africa, Ashgate Publishing Company, UK and USA, (eds) Michael Drewett and Martin Cloonan, 2006, pp.171-186.

44. Entry on Ghana (with Ronnie Graham). For The Rough Guide to World Music: Africa and the Middle East, (eds) Simon Broughton, Mark Ellington and Jon Lusk. Pubished by Rough Guide, London, 2006, pp. 123-135

45. The History of Ghanaian Highlife. In Discovering Ghana (ed. Graham Knight) Astro Prining/Publications, Accra, November 2006, Issue 1, pp.11-12

46. High On Life (on Ghana’s 50th independence anniversary) Songlines, London, (ed Simon Broughton), Issue 44, June 2007 pp. 28-32.

47. The Evolution of West African Popular Entertainment entry for New Encylopedia of Africa (eds. J. Middleton, J. Taylor & K.Wachsberger). ISBN 978-0-684-31454-9. Published by Charles Scribner and Sons Reference Books, U.S.A. 2007.

48. African Guitarism: 100 Years of West African Highlife. Legon Journal of the Humanities, Vol. XVII, 2006, pp. 173-196, (eds. Gordon Adika & Kofi Ackah). Published by the Faculty of Arts, University of Ghana, Legon. ISSN 0855-1502 .

49. The Pan-African Goombay Drum-Dance: Its Ramifications and Development in Ghana. Legon Journal of the Humanities, Vol. XVIII, 2007, pp. 179-200, (eds. Gordon Adika & Kofi Ackah). Published by the Faculty of Arts, University of Ghana Legon. ISSN 0855-1502

50. Nkrumah and Highlife. New Legon Observor. Ghana Society for Development Dialogue Publication, vol. 2 no. 7, 24 April 2008, pp. 5-7

51. The Entrance of Women into Ghanaian Popular Entertainment:. Chapter in the festschrifte book The Legacy of Efua Sutherland: Pan African Cultural Activism, edited by Anne V. Adams and Efua Sutherland-Addy, published Ayebia Clark Publishing Ltd, UK, 2007 pp. 47-54 (ISBN NO. 978-0-9547023-1-1)

52. Tribute by J Collins p 28-31 to the late Kofi Ghanaba in the 43 page funeral brochure ‘ Celebrating the Life of Ghanaba’ published by his family and friends in March 2009.

53. Popular Dance Music and the Media, chapter 14 in Media and Identity in Africa (eds. Kimani Njogu and John Middleton) Edinburgh University Press for the International African Institute, 2009 ( ISBN No. 978 0 74863522 1)

54. Ghana and the World Music Boom. In World Music: Roots and Routes, Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, Vol, 6 2009, ed. Tuulikki Pietila (ISSN No.1796-2980) http://www.helsinki.fi/collegium/e-series/volumes/volume_6/index.htm

55. Highlife and Nkrumah’s Independence Ethos. In Journal of Performing Arts, Vol. 4, No. 1, pp. 93-104 (ed. John Collins/John Djisenu) Published by the School of Performing Arts, University of Ghana, Legon, 2009/2010. (ISBN 0855-2606)

56. Article, ‘Popular Performance and Culture in Ghana: The Past 50 Years.’ In the Ghana Studies Journal published by African Studies Publications. (eds Stephan Mieshcher et al) Vol. 10 (2007): 9-64. (nb published in 2007 but due to delays only now available)

57. Popularmusikens Generationsvaxling - Exemplet Ghana. In: Kultur I Africa (ed Mai Palmberg & Carita Backstrom of the Nordikiska Afrikainstutet), published by Bokforlaget Tranan AB, Stockholm, Sweden 2010, pp. 44-53. (ISBN nr 978-91-86307-25-7)

58. World Music: A Stimulus to Ghanaian Tourism. Education and ‘Cross-Over” Muscial Collaborationss, Article in The Journal of performing arts, University of Ghana School of Performing Arts (ed John Collins Vol. 4, No. 2, 2011 pp. 71-80

59. Some Reasons for Teaching African Popular Music in University. In Reclaiming the Human Sciences and Humanities Through African Perspectives, Vol. 2, (ed. Helen Lauer & Kofi Anyidoho). Sub-Saharan Publishers, Ghana, 2012, pp. 1412-1423


Related Articles

                          University of Ghana | © 2006 - 2008 All Rights Reserved | Privacy Policy | Powered by: Con-Imedia