The Top 30 most influential women in music is a delicate feature of the 3Music Awards Women’s Brunch dedicated to recognizing, rewarding and honoring the standout achievements of female creatives and accessories within the Ghanaian music space.
The project is also an intricate music gazette and a mirror reflection of the contributions of women in diversified fields of music, whose creativity, endeavor and impact within the year in review have both propelled the growth and evolution of the music industry, and made a strong case for the representation and inclusion of women in contemporary arts and entertainment.
After months of rigorous scrutiny, much analytics and consideration of unquantifiable service to music, we present to you the Music Makers, Enablers and Amplifiers who have made a difference in the music-sphere in honour of women.
The growth and evolution of the Vodafone Ghana Music Awards has been swift and surreal since Theresa Ayoade succeeded her husband as CEO of event organizers, Charterhouse.
Her clear, constructive and visionary ideas have birthed a more objective, daring and competitive music industry open to variety and eccentric creativity. Over the past 10 years, there has been twice as much inclusivity, categories, women, and certainly more international appeal and investment than in the previous 10. Her institution’s decision to cancel two of the country’s biggest entertainers for gross misconduct also proved the right call and earned the brand substantial international esteem.
Theresa Ayoade’s inspired decisions, generous investment and daring approach has helped shape a more vibrant, professional and lucrative music industry today. Thanks to her leadership, the VGMA has become an obvious catalyst for artiste development and as well the evolution and growth of the Ghanaian music industry.
Former talent show dropout, Becca, became the first female artiste to taste genuine and sustained commercial and cosmopolitan success. She has collaborated with international legends such as Hugh Masakela, MI Abaga and 2Face to lead the way for most high-profile international collaborations by a female artiste. She has won 5 high profile local and international awards in 2007.
Becca also led the burgeoning movement to campaign for the greater inclusivity, representation and empowerment of women in 2013 when she headlined the first Girl Talk Concert. Becca has used her platform to cater to children affected by HIV/AIDS. The release of her 2014 hit single No Away featuring MI Abaga paved the way to mega-money investments into the videos of female artistes. Her smash single ‘No one’, released over the past year, has also drawn parallels with the globally acclaimed hit song John Cena by Sho Madjozi.
Someday Adina might look back on her mystical music career and paint a rich montage; her incredible 13-year journey an inspiring blueprint for every wannabe. Adina’s career transcends nudity and controversy and shames everyone who alludes to these as prerequisites for feminine success.
The gracious singer’s talent, hard work and sheer resolve have ultimately positioned her as arguably Ghana’s most marketable and globally appealing female brand. The former Stars of the Future winner never truly lighted for 6 years before it finally suddenly clicked in Year 7. Since then Adina has gone on to win three  out of six  music awards nominations, headlined several international concerts like her majestic tour of the Pacific, and does vocal punditry on one of Ghana’s prime reality shows, Mentor.
Over the past year, Adina has made an outstanding impression. After releasing her critically acclaimed Araba album, Adina enjoyed long, consistent Top 10 radio play and huge streaming numbers, massive international recognition, and staged one of the biggest online concerts during COVID lockdown. She also grossed 9 nominations at this year’s 3MAs, including a top favorite for Reggae song of the year.
Diana Hopeson, has been in the Ghanaian music space for three long decades. The former president of the Musicians Union of Ghana [MUSIGHA] started her career under the name Diana Akiwumi in 1991, going on to win 3 awards. Since then the veteran minstrel has received numerous honours and recognition for her contributions to the Gospel music and creative arts industry. Among these is a National Honors Award received in 2007 by then-president, H.E. John Agyekum Kufuor. The Gospel great is currently the CEO of GHMusic Publishing and Management and the 2nd Vice-Chair of the Ghana Music Rights Organization [GHAMRO]. She has also served as a GHAMRO board member as well as Chair of the Interim Management Board of the Copyright Society of Ghana [COSGHA].
One day when her DNA is analyzed, we suspect they will discover a previously unnoticed nucleotide to explain her advanced celestial artistry. The dynamic Efya has made an impression in nearly every genre- Highlife, Hiplife, R&B, Afropop and ballad. And this year, the star has added to her stunning repertoire. Her collaboration with African music royalty Tiwa Savage on her hit single The One is arguably the weightiest international collaboration by a female artiste in the Ghanaian music industry.
It is the latest addition to a series of prickly pub quiz questions which all bear an Efya-related answer. The silky singer answers to each of the following questions: the most awarded Ghanaian female act in history, the only act to earn separate international nominations as both a member of a music group and also a solo artiste, the first and only artiste to win four consecutive female vocalist of the year awards at any awards event, the most consistent female vocalist of the past decade and half, the first female finalist from a reality show to perform and earn a nomination at a major awards show, and much more.
Efya makes records. The double entendre and pun intended. At age 37, she still continues to break new grounds, set higher benchmarks and leave her competition gasping for breath while playing catch up.
Jesus doesn’t lie. And neither does Diana Hamilton’s extraordinary numbers. Don’t tell anyone but of all still active female artistes in Ghana, Diana has the most views in total from all official uploads. She is also in the Top 10 for most streamed, and overwhelmingly the highest streamed Gospel Act this calendar.
As Diana continues to stack up hit after hit in loud numbers, her mesmerizing songwriting ability and impressive vocal range continue to stand out. It’s a refreshing reminder of past fallen standards and a welcome resuscitation for a fast-fading aspect of classic Ghanaian music culture.
And that’s probably why the minstrel keeps earning a mention in the most prestigious music awards conversations. After nearly 15 years in music, it is good form to see daring Diana continue to lead a new and hungry wave of talents in the quest to induce the allure for gospel music. Her video streaming stats also betray her current role as the gatekeeper for live performances and stagecraft in the industry.
GLORIA AKPENE (MZGEE)
Renowned Ghanaian Radio & Television personality, MzGee, first shot to prominence as a contestant on the Hottest Host reality show. She is now one of the nation’s biggest and most respected industry resource persons. She has been in the media space for over a decade, promoting good music and propelling talented discoveries.
MzGee has played varying roles in media, and her employers include TV3, Joy FM, Joy News, Joy Prime and Hitz FM. These days she is the face of Media General, broadcast parent of TV3 and 3FM where she anchors the entertainment news. She also hosts TV3 Mentor Reloaded, a musical reality show dedicated to discovering and nurturing elite musical talents.
In 2019, she assumed new responsibilities as the first and only female member on the 3Music Awards board, adding on to her role as the Country director of the Ghana Music Awards USA. She is possibly the only media personality involved in all aspects of the music cycle, from discovering talent, publishing content and honoring accomplishments.
Wiyaala’s unusual voice and composition gives you chills and the same awakening feel that you experience when listening to legends such as Hugh Masakela or Ladysmith Black Mambazo. She has also been compared to African legends such as Brenda Fassie, Miriam Makeeba and Angelique Kidjo- the latter by the Irish Times. She made the BBC’s featured list of the most celebrated African women in 2018, and is still Ghana’s most sought performer within the diaspora and at international music festivals.
The former amateur footballer found instant success with music when she left Wa for Accra to participate in a music reality show, winning it in 2012. Two years later, she was already winning her first major international awards. Those two AFRIMA scoops established her as Ghana’s first female artiste to win two prestigious international awards in one night. It also revealed the star’s soaring global appeal.
Wa-based Wiyaala is home these days to give back to her community. Last year, she built an Arts and Culture Centre to mentor and groom the next generation of native talents and facilitate their own path to greatness. Also associated with UNICEF and the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Wiyaala has used her music and platform to actively campaign against social injustice and protection of women and children’s rights. Her recent compositions have also received global acclaim for its propagation of black awakening, culture and history.
SORAYA OPARE- RILEY
Soraya Opare-Riley is the managing partner of Backstage Access and a Project Coordinator at Paradise Entertainment Ltd. She is one of Ghana’s biggest enablers behind the scenes, dedicating her life and resources to empower musicians and facilitate music development. She has worked with elite entertainers like E.L, VIP, 4X4 and AK Songstress.
The showbiz doyen has also managed several events, including the Freedom Concert, Ghana Stands in Worship, and Sonnie Badu’s Africa Worships. She is one of the easiest recognized faces and voice on entertainment media. As an analyst and pundit, she exploits her background, exposure and experience to function as a showbiz educationist.
Soraya is an avid campaigner for professionalism in show business, using every opportunity to advocate the role of contracts and commercial value as major aspects of music and show business.
The Celestial Praise annual concert is one of the most anticipated music concerts on the Gospel Music events calendar. It is founded on Celestine Donkor’s brand and pull.
It speaks to Celestine’s achievements that the concert continues to swell year after year, a testament to her own consistency, progress and relevance. Since 2019, the star has been recognized by every local music honor event she has been eligible for, winning five awards in the process.
Aside releasing two of the biggest Gospel singles this year, Celestial also out-doored a project intended to feature more secular acts in conventional gospel music. The bold initiative is a laudable humanitarian enterprise clearly intended to foster goodwill and plaster over a glaring, gaping hole within the Ghanaian music community.
Beryl Agyekum is an entrepreneur and CEO of Echo House Ghana Limited, a prominent events-oriented and youth marketing agency devoted to creative marketing, project management and delivery of music experiences, particularly for millennials and generation Z.
Among her notable endeavors are Tidal Rave and Epilogo; major lifestyle and music events that provide opportunities for young and established music talents. Beryl’s events provide commercial value to brands and reach to music makers among the youthful demographics. Inside of the year, Beryl was crowned winner in the Female category of the Young Achiever’s Award, having expanded her agency into a multinational brand while using her platform to promote alternative music, support local content and provide opportunities for emerging talents. Her leadership at Echohouse and her generous investments in curating music activation platforms continue to drive value for talents and industry.
The rapper finally added some accompanying statistics to her status as the undisputed goddess of Ghanaian rap music after becoming the first female rapper to hit a million views on YouTube. Between May and July 2020, she was also the most streamed out and out rapper.
Eno Barony is arguably in the Top 3 of Ghana’s most lyrically-stacked rappers, and you get the feeling it plays against her in a very commercial-heavy industry. The lyrical dynamite is at her best when tickled the wrong way, and following a nasty feud with three of her colleagues within a month’s interval, the star wisely rode the wave to elite stardom and commercial success.
It may be an indication of Wendy Shay’s hard work and industrial demand that she has the tallest discography of any female artiste within the calendar in terms of songs released or featured. Her monotonous dominance on local radio also backs her boast as the hottest female commodity within the Ghanaian music space.
The star was thrust in at the deep end following the sudden and tragic demise of frontline label mate Ebony Reigns in 2018 and has since proved an adequate and inspired replacement. Since 2019, the star has won 3 top awards and has consistently been in the Top 10 most radio-active artistes’ list. The star’s appointment as the brand ambassador of the Youth Employment Agency and enstoolment as an honorary queen mother is authentication of her work and influence on society.
With 10 hit songs in 2 and half years, the Ghanaian queen of AfroPop seems to record on average one wavy tune every quarter. These elite-tier stats represent the strongest indication yet that Miss Shay has the local music scene on lock.
Not since the late great Ebony Reigns has a new act generated such buzz and curiosity. Gyakie came in with no pre-warning, just stardust and good vibes.
Her Forever song is already one of the biggest hits in Nigeria and generating obese radio play all over the continent. The enigmatic entertainer also premiered a peculiar afro-fusion grove that may soon revolutionize the industry. Gyakie is the No. 1 female artiste on Boomplay, Top 10 on several local and international music charts consistently over the past couple of months, and according to Billboard Triller- an authoritative music media streaming analytics platform, Gyakie’s work is already out streaming global brands like Megan Thee Stallion, Teni and Cardi B.
Not many Ghanaian female acts can make Gyakie’s boast, especially not in their first year. And it is to Gyakie’s credit that news that she is the daughter of beloved Ghanaian music ace, Nana Acheampong, is an irrelevant aspect of her career thus far.
Most young ladies take videos for Tiktok, Scilla Owusu shoots music videos for celebrities. At 23, the young music video director already counts A-list stars such as Sarkodie, Stonebwoy and Fuse ODG among her clients. She has also worked with global brands such as Burnaboy, Patoranking and Davido.
Scilla’s acuity, storytelling skills, creative capacity and meticulousness have transformed the music industry, rightly positioning audiovisuals as an essential element of music marketing. Across the continent, Scilla’s work is recognized as a benchmark for creating quality and captivating video content, organically earning her that enviable spot as the front figure in a male-dominated sphere.
Fresh from featuring on the Forbes 2020 list of Africa’s 30 under 30, the award-winning screenplay writer returned to Ghana and has within the past year been organizing camps and workshops to enhance music business education and what she knows to do best- the art of creating breathtaking music videos.
Cina Soul’s arrival on the music scene in 2016 was a breath of fresh air. Fanatics of classical African music had already tipped her as one to watch. And for good reason, because a couple of years later Cina’s silent hit Ojorley proved a masterstroke in reinventing classical Highlife. Her music is a polite rebellion against money-driven songwriting and reintroduces the lost art of storytelling and didactic.
Ms. Soul captivates with her 21st century indigenous ingenuity. She also represents something of a paradox. In one breath she stands out amongst her peers for her unrivalled ability to fuse aboriginal culture with vintage Highlife, yet blends in with her westernized vocal range and technique. Her music has also received private endorsements in political and royal circles, often functioning as a theme song during the celebration of traditional festivals and national events.
Within the calendar, Cina and compatriot KiDi premiered their new movie Sugar, starring both. The movie has gone on to become one of the most watched Ghanaian movies on video streaming platform YouTube. Her latest single Die For You is also making steady waves. Cina may not be Ghana’s best artiste yet, but she may just be the most important.
On-air personality and journalist, AJ Sarpong has been something of a saving grace for music and show business for over a decade. She has been actively involved in offering a platform for the production and promotion of music and artistes since first being engaged by ghanamusic.com at age 16.
Her distinguished platform on CiTi TV and CiTi FM is one of the most reputed sources for industry-related news, interviews and gossip. She has also anchored some of the nation’s biggest events, including the Ghana Music Awards and also sits on the board of the 3Music Awards for her expertise in music curation and play-listing.
DJ Kess is a recording artist and multiple-award-winning DJ. She has spent much of the last decade jockeying on radio, clubs and at some of the biggest local and international events and festivals. A habitual nominee and two-time winner at the Ghana DJ Awards, DJ Kess is reputed as one of Africa’s biggest adult female DJs.
She is the official DJ of the nation’s most popular nighttime urban radio show, the Y-Lounge on YFM. In June 2020, the show announced the introduction of a new segment called the Alternative lounge, running for the last hour of a 3-hour show. The Alternative Lounge is a dedicated segment to promote unbelievably good music starved off mainstream radio play. The initiative has proved a masterstroke in promoting good quality content and unearthing talents.
Highlife star Sista Afia is a musical dynamo. Her short span within the Ghanaian music space is a cheap clinic on how to maintain relevance. Since breaking through in 2015, Sista Afia just can’t go away. Her career has been defined by her versatility and ability to shrewdly adapt and interpret in-vogue trends when necessary.
The Highlife graduate identifies as an AfroPop act these days and is responsible for creating some of the biggest songs inspired by whatever is the industry’s latest craze at the time. She has collaborated with some of the biggest entertainers on her projects, and has a knack for successfully replicating excellence. The star’s recent public feuds with two of the country’s biggest rappers epitomizes her knack to exploit every avenue, leave no stone unturned and milk every genre cow in her quest for musical glory.
This calendar, the Jacklyn of All Trades has a drill-type Hiphop song with high flier Kweku Flick, a Hiplife song with Fameye, and a Highlife song with BisaK’Dei- all very highly rated within their respective genre categories.
There are very few iconic figures in the creative art space like MzVee. She’s got everyone looking up or over their shoulder. Since 2014 the singer has used her voice and platform to inspire and advocate for women, while campaigning against black woman complexes and, quite recently, mental health. She survived a mental health crisis of her own after battling a strong, two year-long depression.
Before her hiatus, earning 47 nominations at the grandest local and international awards events between 2014 and 2018 meant that she experienced the brightest and most productive five-year span ever savored by any female act. She is also the first (and only) ever female act to win a Rookie of the Year gong and score a successful international all-girl collab following her duet with Nigeria’s YemiAlade three years ago.
Since her recovery, MzVee has released Inveencible– her 4thcritically acclaimed studio album in just 7 years. Her latest hit banger, Balance featuring Sarkodie, is the biggest song by a female act so far this year, chalking over a million views on YouTube within the first month of release. MzVee is back on her perch as a ferocious female force.
Here is an exercise. Read through this list: Artiste aggravation, distress, exploitation, controversy, rivalry and unrest, drama and unprofessionalism. Now try to find five  Ghanaian music labels. Here is what we anticipate. You probably could not list 5 major record labels off the top of your head. Or more likely, you settled for using popular in-personalities to represent the label because you could really not remember the label name. Thirdly, chances are 9 out of 10 labels you remember have associated with all or at least one of our listed words. The outstanding one is Lynx Entertainment.
And that’s why the label manager at Lynx Entertainment is highly revered within the Ghanaian music space. Not many shine behind the spotlight, Vivian Eteng is the finest of the few who dare do. And she is a WOMAN! As manager, Vivian’s thankless task includes performing administrative duties, supervising the welfare of artistes on the roster and protecting the collective interest. She has seen to the development of two of Ghana’s biggest stars in Kwame Eugene and KiDi, aiding their transition from top talents to idolized icons.
If Lynx is going to be considered as perhaps the most organized and most prolific record label over the past year, it is certainly impossible to overlook the pivotal role of Vivian Eteng whose expertise and competence have been at the center of spiraling both acts and label to their present enviable status.
The founder of music blog Harmattan Rainis the industry’s most treasured female neoteric. Benewaah Boateng has expedited the standing of Ghanaian music internationally both through her work online and via digital streaming platforms.
As music executive, her curated playlists on global streaming platforms, including Apple Music, continue to deliver reach and value to the space. Over the past year she has served as the country coordinator for Universal Music while also providing invaluable consultancy services to music makers, executives and investors. Her expert opinion and valued contributions have been crucial in propagating and marketing homemade content, inducing proficiency and creating global prospects for and within the Ghanaian music industry.
“…Usually because I work in the music industry and it’s a lot more male [dominated], they feel like ‘oh you are a girl and what more could you possibly know or what more could you possibly do’…” That was Benewaah Boateng in an interview in May 2017. Now four years down the line, no one is asking that question anymore, they are all just taking notes.
Legal practitioner Cynthia Quarcoo represents several music personalities in the industry. Her clients include Sarkodie, Samini, Reggie Rockstone and Edem, amongst others. She founded Africa 1 Media to empower individuals and businesses in the creative space through the provision of professional business and legal counsel services.
Over the past year, her legal representation and consultancy services have proved vital in launching talents, sustaining careers and generating much-needed commercial value for music makers. Cynthia has carved for herself a niche as one of Ghana’s foremost show business attorneys, offering sound guidance and mediation in contractual negotiation, arbitration, copyright protection, and the safe exploitation of commercial opportunities on behalf of her clients- our heroes.
Through her contributions, Cynthia Quarcoo has become a torchbearer for several other non-creative professionals offering extra-curricular service and support towards advancing music creativity, business and value.
Whitney Boakye-Mensah is a real influential personality in the purest sense of the phrase. She contributes from a position of rare influence, has an intellect built to innovate, and a compelling story to inspire. About a decade ago, her favourite pastime on weekends was listening in on the famed Entertainment Review Show on Peace FM and consistently texting is a very constructive contribution. That’s how she was first invited to the show as a guest panellist, progressing thereafter to become an ace radio pundit and a well-renowned resource person in the music space.
Going on to found the INORVATIONS / EVENTS WBM, where she doubles as a Managing Partner and Creative Director, Whitney has evolved into a chief events specialist who provides bespoke event experiential services to clients. Her checklist comprises clienteles such as Charterhouse and Empire Entertainment, events like the Ghana Music Awards and GH Meets Naija, as well as engagements with global icons such as Bow Wow, Keri Hilson, and Chris Brown.
Over the past year, the ace pundit has used her voice and craft to champion and pioneer the adoption of world-class standards in event management and the music business. Whitney has also served as co-producer for the 3Music Awards Women’s Brunch, a key platform for amplifying women and driving their empowerment in music. Through her efforts, the 3MA Women’s Brunch has leveraged the art to promulgate issues that affect women in the music community and generate prospects for them.
These days, when young female Gospel talents dream, they imagine themselves ministering before those vibrant, massive crowds at the Women in Worship Concert. It is conceivably the biggest annual Gospel concert in Ghana, a podium wholly reserved for the finest reigning female acts, legends and prospects within the Gospel space both locally and internationally. That whole event was largely birthed on the vision and resources of Gina Nettey.
Avant-garde Gina established the Women in Worship concert as a cornerstone facility to highlight the creativity and strength of women within the genre. She has also used the platform to celebrate and honor the accomplishments of music women and legends within the Gospel music fraternity. Her overdue initiative to set up a major Gospel awards scheme within the country is also a massive boost to the space and a welcome avenue to grow the industry.
It is striking of Gina Nettey to identify gaps and pluck them. It is providential of the music industry to have her. As the founder and owner of Genet services, an Events Management Agency and Ghana’s foremost entertainment logistics and equipment firm, she has offered top class supply and rental services that have facilitated most of the nation’s biggest, most successful and iconic events. By the establishment of groundbreaking enterprises, delivering of first-rate services, and empowerment of women and prospects, Gina Nettey’s invaluable contributions to the music scene have proved indispensable.
Doreen Andoh is a long-standing supporter of music, especially material of Ghanaian origin. On her cosmopolitan mix radio show, Andoh actually jockeys by herself, exploiting the platform to advertise and promote fascinating compositions and build playlists to suit every mood or occasion. Over the past two decades, she has also worked as a host at some of Ghana’s elite event shows. In 2011, Doreen became the first woman to be crowned Presenter of the Year. She has also served as a board member for the VGMAs.
Elizabeth Ntiamoah, affectionately called Lyza, is the General Manager at Boomplay. She is an expert in music production and management and is responsible for establishing Boomplay as Ghana’s favorite digital streaming platform.
Lyza first rose to mainstream recognition as a PR aid for Supreme Rights Ghana, former management group for artiste Worlasi. She has over the years worked on radio, in the digital space and within the artiste management faculty. Whether on air, on line or in house, Lyza’s focus has remained steadfast- generate appeal for Ghanaian music and value for the music makers. Her basic instinct has always been to help manage talents, market musical content globally, and create and disseminate press releases and official communiqué on behalf of artistes.
Young and assiduous entrepreneur, Akosua Bubune Nyarko, has distinguished herself within the industry as the artiste manager for popular Highlife act, Akwaboah Jnr. As manager, Ms Bubune represents the crooner’s business interests and is involved in the creative direction of his songs. Her work ethic, assertiveness and fortitude have been instrumental in escalating the crooner into one of the industry’s top highlife stars. Akosua Bubune is a major inspiration to younger women passionate about talent management and occupying behind-the-scenes roles within the industry.
The 13-year old jockey fairy first found fame following her winning performance at famed child reality show, Talented Kids. Though mainly a DJ, Switch has also explored several other fields in creative arts including music, dance and poetry. Her unusual talents have not gone largely unnoticed within the international community. The star has been profiled on several reputable broadcast groups, including the BBC and CNN.
In 2018, DJ Twist became the young ever recipient of the top prize at the annual Ghana DJ Awards. She has already won 10 awards since her very first in 2017. She has performed at the AU Assembly of Heads of State, World Bank and the Melinda Gates Foundation- a distant dream to many. The child prodigy has positioned herself as a major force to be reckoned with, setting the bar so high for the rest of the industry.
Musically, Amaarae reminds us of a bedroom. Some people sleep with her music, others still sleep on her, but thankfully much of the whole world is rightly waking up to her genius. She is a virtual embodiment of a creative package, pacesetting in vocal originality, sound peculiarity, intrepid videos and daring fashion. She was listed among Apple Music Africa’s favorite New Artistes in 2018 for her musical lucidity before featuring in the Vogue Magazine online for her fashion sense.
Raised between Accra and Atlanta, the genre-shy singer draws from her cosmopolitan grooming to address gender-related disorders and denote the tamed tendencies of quintessential African women.
Amaarae only released her maiden album, “You Don’t Know”, last year. In that time, she has thrust her eccentric vocal trademark into musical folklore, established her creativity as a compass to music’s next destination, positioned her brand as an inspiration to young musical creatives, and become a classic case study for what women can achieve if empowered in the space.