My name is James Wilson, and I'm a musician living in Athens, Georgia. While visiting Accra, Ghana in 2008, I met a new friend, Kofi Anteneng. Kofi is a multi-instrumentalist living outside of Accra. We spent a day playing music together alongside some of his friends, and I was fortunate enough to use a digital recorder to capture the music of that day. I was entranced by how welcoming the musicians were--this hospitality is something I've seen reflected in many Ghanaians I've met. The way the musicians communicated with one another was almost magical, and I was thrilled to have been invited into their circle, if even for a brief visit. After our day was over, Kofi and I stayed in touch via email and we started hatching an idea: what if we mixed his group's music with the more "Western" music I wrote? I tried out a few new songs based off the recorded rhythms, incorporating styles and melodies more characteristic of my Athens musical roots. To cap off the initial project, I decided that all the lyrics to the songs would be taken entirely from catch phrases and sayings that Ghanaian taxicab drivers have printed on bumper stickers. These stickers are abundant on the streets of Ghana--check out the project's video to see a handful of ones I've seen firsthand. By using these taxicab lyrics instead of my own, I was able to patch together a unique snapshot of Ghana, a snapshot that, if even for a moment, exemplifies the optimism and originality of this country's culture.
Since that initial 2008 trip, I've expanded the project to include more and more Athens-based musicians to go along with Kofi and his talented group The Warriors. In 2009, my Athens-based group performed a few of the songs alongside a moving slide show of images from my journeys. Kofi and I kept in touch the whole time and decided to really make a record together. Step-By-Step! With the help of Athens friends, I laid down some tracks in Athens in January of 2010. When I returned to Ghana the following May, I brought those tracks with me and had Kofi and his fellow musicians add high-quality instrumentation to what I'd put together at home. He and his group then laid down some original tracks of their own. The collaboration had begun! Upon returning to the States, I began to mix these tracks. This fall, I'll return to Ghana to meet with Kofi once again and continue to work on this record.
The Taxicab Verses is different from other projects in that it brings together two seemingly disparate cultures. We have been able to create something novel by working together and being respective of each other's tastes and styles, and this collaboration is already resulting in an album that reflects not only a melding of styles but also a blending of cultures living 5600 miles apart. Man, I can't wait for you to hear it! I can't wait for me to hear it! It really is amazing for me to "see" this sound develop naturally while two people from opposite ends of the globe pretty much pass the baton to each other. YES! Come on, let's go get it!
The biggest and initial impact of your generosity will be felt directly by the Ghanaian musicians involved with the Taxicab sessions and their immediate communities upon my arrival this fall. When I am working with these six to ten musicians, I spend time with them in their neighborhood, float the bill on food and provisions, and I pay them for their immense talents. I know for a fact that with your tremendous contributions, these people and their immediate surroundings will enjoy and appreciate the local economic boost!
It is my hope that this project will inspire people to listen more closely to music from cultures other than their own so as to remember all the cultures there are and have been throughout history. I also hope you are inspired to say to yourself, "Oh yeah, I'm totally gonna do that thing I thought about that time--some drummer in Georgia went all the way to West Africa by himself and he doesn't even own a car!"
I have already been affected by this project. The experiences I have had in my traveling to Ghana twice in the last few years have greatly influenced my life and the way I live it. It has brought the world closer to me. I have always had an appreciation for what the world has to offer, and now the greatness of the world is more tangible. I am also eternally grateful to the dozen musicians here in Athens, Georgia that have given their time and talent to this project for free and with good ol' fashion neighborly love. Thank you! (You'll learn more about all the musicians in our campaign updates.)
By achieving our funding goal on IndieGoGo, I will be able to fly to Ghana this fall and finish this global project that has been three years in the making. I'll be able to pay Kofi and his mates for their time and talent, and I'll be able to rent as much studio time as we need in my friend's village outside of Accra. Working with a crowdfunding platform like IndieGoGo is fitting, as we want to highlight the collaborative nature of this project and emphasize that none of our present and future accomplishments can happen without people pitching in. If I could, I would foot the bill for this myself (I've made it this far, but this awesome project has become more than my little bank account can handle!), but I simply do not have the means. I would be most appreciative of your support, no matter the size of your monetary donation. Please help so that we may complete this project within the next year and share the results with the world.
Thank you. The more you donate, the more immediate impact we can bestow on our Ghanaian friends and their community.
What We Need & What You Get
Here is a breakdown of what the money is for and where it is going*:
This includes wage for our Ghanaian musicians & contributors; studio rental for as many days as possible outside of Accra, Ghana; in-country transportation to and from the studio for me and my fellow musicians
more studio time in Athens, Ga prior to trip; mixing & mastering the album in Athens, Ga. upon our return; miscellaneous recording supplies, hard drives, etc.
round-trip plane ticket from Atlanta, Georgia to Accra, Ghana, plus associated travel expenses (This does not include my room and board in Ghana. I will pay that on my own.)
for unforeseeable snags, and a start on production/ distribution
*NOTE: Actual costs and responsibility of production and destribution of this record have and always will rest on me, James A. Wilson. Thanks for your help and support!
If we do not achieve complete funding, rest assured we will still make this project. My biggest interest in this funding is to ensure that my Ghanaian friends/musicians are duly compensated for their time and immense talents. Second priority rests in the studio for further tracking, mixing, and mastering. I have already used my remaining resources to purchase a roundtrip ticket to Accra, Ghana this September. I will be more than happy to absorb the cost of travel (my third trip in three years--wow!), especially if it means taking care of priority number one: the Ghanaian musicians/families I have the pleasure of working with. The main drawback to not reaching our goal is the effect it will have on the project's time line. I am prepared to save for years to finish this project on my own, but it would be fulfilling and rewarding to do it with your help. I also want the album to be released while the Taxicab Verses is still fresh in everyone's mind--we will have the most professional and personal satisfaction and success if we are able to wrap this project up within a year and get a copy of it to you.
Here's WHAT YOU GET!!!
We tailored our one-of-a-kind perks to fit this project specifically, which means you won't find these particular perks on any other IndieGoGo or Kickstarter campaign out there. The drum that will be awarded to the winner of the drawing described in perk #5 is one I purchased on my first trip to Ghana. I love it and it is super cool. The complete set of all records I've appeared on (prior to 2011) reflects the music and experiences I have had with amazing people right here in Athens, Ga. It also features many of the musicians that lend their talents to the Taxicab Verses project. From discounts to my neighborhood bookstore to actual taxicab decals to an autographed postcard from Ghana, all the perks were selected to reflect the cultures of Accra and Athens. When all is said and done, not only will you have access to the finished product, you can feel good now in knowing that you have touched the lives of well over a dozen musicians here and there that struggle everyday to live, love, and create, me very much included. THANK YOU!!!