Kofi Acquah: Tell us who Six Strings is and where he comes from.
Six Strings: First of all, I would like to thank you for wanting to share my story with the world. I believe at the end you will agree with me that my story is not so interesting.
It is obvious ‘Six Strings’ is not my real name. I am Foster Enoch (Komla) Doe, a guitarist, Singer/Songwriter and I come from ‘Lolobi’ in the Volta Region of Ghana. I am a Ghanaian (very important).
My mother is called Justine Pearl Kumesi (She left us on 5th Sept, 2008). I grew up with my step father, the late Chief Supt. of Police, B. K. Agbenyegah (he also left us a year earlier). May their souls rest in peace. Juanita Agbenyegah and Bartholomew Agbenyegah are my siblings.
KA: Ah! You have left streams of tears in the eyes of men. Sorry brother. Anyway, being a guitarist and a musician; well known by your song dubbed— SOBOLO, I have been informed somewhere as well, that you have worked in the field of poetry. Could you please get into the nitty-gritty of this assertion?
SS: I started performing on a poetry platform known as “Poetry Night with the Rainmakers” (We met every first Saturday of the month at the Dubois Center). I was usually on the music side of the show. Besides, I have performed in various poetry events in Ghana such as; Alewa, Ehalakasa and Ndaba Poetry and also worked with poets in the likes of Rhyme Sonny, Nana Asase, Chief Moomen and Hashmullah. I don’t consider myself a poet or a spoken word artist. I only sing my pieces.
KA: How did you discover your career?
SS: I grew up listening to the likes of Bob Marley, Wulomei (a traditional Ga group), Osibisa, Ladysmith Black Mambazo (an all-male acapella group from South Africa) and Wyclef Jean. You can’t miss the beautiful sound of the guitar when you listen to Wulomei. We had an original Wulomei audio cassette at home when I was about six years old. I remember playing it over and over in my “Walkman” and just enjoyed the instrumentation. (I had no idea what the messages in the songs actually were back then). At that age, I knew I had a thing for the lead guitar.
The singing part came when I joined an acapella group called “The Young Sparrows” in Saint Augustine’s College. We practiced every day; Monday to Monday. Some years later, I bought my first classical acoustic guitar and started the real journey. Along the line, I got more inspiration from Lauryn Hill’s ‘Unplugged album’, Asa’s ‘Asa album’ and a few other guitarists like Jason Mraz. The whole guitar playing thing began to make sense when I met Idris Ibrahim (Leo Caxton) in Ho Polytechnic. He is a music director and a keyboardist— currently taking guitar lessons. However, I knew my basic chords and scales, as he taught me how to make music with them. This is how far the Lord has brought me. I can’t wait to pass the beginner stage.
KA: Are you an independent artist? If yes, do you expect a contract from any record label in the near future?
SS: I am an independent artist. There are a number of offers I am looking into. Once I make a decision, I am very sure you will hear about it.
KA: Okay. How has the journey been so far?
SS: It has not been easy at all. I can say confidently, that I have come this far only by the grace of God.
KA: In terms of organizing your own shows, do you get support in any kind from people?
SS: Though I have had a good number of gigs this year, I am yet to organize my own show. It is in its planning stage.
KA: What was the inspiration and mission towards the opening of a show for Dark Suburb at the Republic Bar?
SS: I played guitar for Worlasi at Dark Suburb’s “Awakening” concert; held at Alliance Française. A week later, the ‘Chief Priest’ called and asked if I would like to play on the Republic show, of which I agreed. It was an amazing experience.
KA: How did the whole thing of playing regularly every Sunday night at Piano Bar come about?
SS: At a point, I only performed as and when I get a gig. I couldn’t honor wedding invitations, because I work on Saturdays with ‘UNA Agencies’. I knew very well, that I needed more live playing sessions before audiences– to build up my confidence. Thus, I decided to look for a place where I could play regularly. Meanwhile, I had performed at the Piano Bar together with Hashmullah on a poetry and acoustic music show. So I spoke with the then Manager (Matthew Millar) who told me about the ‘Acoustic Night’ that happens on Sundays. I was featured as an ‘Open Mic’ artist for a couple of weeks, with the chance of performing only two songs every Sunday. The main performers at that time were known as The P 4’s. My very good friend Nene Narh was one of them. I had the opportunity to become a main performer when Vision Inspired (V.I.) Music, made a deal with the Piano Bar and MPM Records to provide performers for the show. Acoustic Night at the Piano Bar has had amazing performers like Fofo, Reynolds ‘The Gentleman’, Adomaa, Robin-Huws Barnes and Eni Larbi. I have learnt a lot from the Piano Bar. Besides, it is a privilege to be a regular performer at such place— and I am enjoying it while it lasts.
KA: Since you began this musical journey as part of Arts— which most parents are convicted by the acts of their wards involved and many a time frown upon as a thing of “YooYoo” and low class people in the society, what has been the parent-son relationship so far?
SS: Fortunately, I was in charge of my life way back before I picked up my first guitar. The only problem my family had with me and my music was when I started learning how to play the guitar. In fact, I used to make a lot of noise ‘boy’! But for some reasons, I practiced when everyone was asleep (hahahaha).
KA: Well, how old are you?
KA: Sighs! You seem to be over veiling your age, but I shall one day definitely come to know. Well, growing up as a young man, whom have you thought of as your mentor/role model?
SS: Bob Marley and Agya Koo Nimo.
KA: Could you please give us a brief educational background about yourself?
SS: I went to Saint Augustine’s College in Cape Coast for my Senior Secondary School Certificate. Then to Ho Polytechnic in the Volta region for my Higher National Diploma (HND) in Accountancy. Now, I’m a final year student in the University of Cape Coast for my first degree in (B. Comm).
KA: Who is your favourite musician in Ghana and the world at large?
SS: I am sorry I cannot come up with a single name. We have very talented musicians in Ghana. I love Paapa Yankson, Kojo Antwi, Amakye Dede, Ambolley, Elder Mireku, Esther Smith, Obrafour, Rex Omar, Kyekyeku, Efya, Worlasi, Adomaa, etc. It is a very long list. Outside Ghana, I will pick Richard Bona.
KA: Interesting. Are you a religious person? What is your religion and church?
SS: I am a Christian and I currently worship with ICGC Calvary Temple- Sakumono and Faith Assemblies of God Church- Nungua, Buade. I am an instrumentalist. Lol
KA: What do you have for political parties politicking in this year’s election?
SS: I don’t have anything for the political parties. My appeal is to all Ghanaians. That is to say; “let us build our nation together.”
KA: Great. What else do you do in your private life apart from music?
SS: I work with the accounts department of UNA Agencies. It is an 8am to 5pm job (Charlie).
KA: Where do you hope to reach with your career?
SS: I want to be bigger than Bob Marley and Michael Jackson– put together. That is my biggest dream ever.
KA: Six Strings, what motivates your works and arts?
SS: “I don’t really think far” (hahaha). I am motivated by what happens around me. I must mention, that a whole lot of things go on in our “trotros”, churches, work places, etc.
KA: Amazing! Before we end this interview, could you tell us what your favourite food and sport are?
SS: I will smile any day to a plate of banku with grilled tilapia and pepper. I love soccer and I believe FC Barcelona is still the best team in the world.
KA: What do you also have to say to your fellow musicians and fans?
SS: I would like to thank everybody who has supported me up to this point. God bless you. To my fellow musicians, “if you want to spread the gospel or talk about sex in your music, just make sure you do it well”.
KA: On that note, I would like to say a big thank you for granting us time and space for this heart-felt and motivating interview. The Village Thinkers wish you all the best in all your endeavours. We hope to see you once again.
SS: Thank you very much Kofi, and your team.
Six Strings is the stage name of Foster Enoch Doe a guitarist and an independent artist who has worked both in the fields of music and poetry. He got his start performing at Poetry Nights with the Rainmakers, at which he was usually the only music act in a sea of poets. Six Strings refined his sound there, and soon other poetry shows came knocking.