by the Oakland Bureau of the San Francisco Bay View
Oakland-based musician Keidra accompanied the internationally renowned R&B group Tony, Toni, Tone this July on their tour to the African nation of Ghana to perform at the prestigious Panafest, a cultural festival that happens every two years and exhibits the culture and intellect of the African world.
After recording a video and some music with the popular Ghanaian Hiplife artist Yaa Pono, Keidra is returning to the West African nation with D’Wayne Wiggins of Tony, Toni, Tone and a tour full of women musicians from the Bay Area in December. With few exceptions, it is extremely rare for musicians from the US to tour on the continent of Africa, no matter how successful they are – let alone to return in the same year; Keidra and D’Wayne Wiggins of Tony, Toni, Tone are breaking the mold.
Funds are low but the vision is there. If any of the readers are inspired to help fund this historic tour experience, please do so by contributing. The link is at the end of the story. Here is the musician Keidra, talking about her recent historic escapade through Ghana.
SF Bay View: You went to Ghana this summer. How was it? What did you do out there?
Keidra: Ghana was so much fun. Aside from the sandy beaches along the picturesque coast and the fresh coconut water, I grew and learned to love it. I was fortunate to learn about the rich history there. I visited the slave dungeons, the mausoleum where former president of Ghana Kwame Nkrumah was buried alongside his wife – and lots of delicious eateries.
SF Bay View: What was it like touring in Ghana with the internationally known R&B group Tony, Toni, Tone?
Keidra: Omg – traveling with The Tonys was an exuberant experience. They were so nice to me and accepting of my music and the way I present myself as an artist. I’ve never been on tour before, so to get insight on the mechanical side of things and be a part of not just history, but the makings of such musical experience, was beyond anything I could have asked for during this trying year for musicians like myself.
. . . it gave me a rush I felt like would last forever.
With COVID, it slowed down a lot of things I sought out to accomplish with my music, but this definitely catapulted my career, and the things I learned about this experience will take me so far in the music business. It was a great opportunity.
SF Bay View: Can you talk about how you felt performing at Panafest? What is Panafest?
Keidra: Panafest is a Pan African Music Festival, more so a cultural event that’s held every two years in Ghana. It was first birthed in 1992. The idea of this festival is to promote and enhance unity in the development of Africa and the people of African descent.
SF Bay View: What cities did you go to, and what did you see in the country that wasn’t music-related?
Keidra: I visited the beaches in Elmina. I went to ceremonies that paid respects to the country’s representatives in the government. I visited bars and the malls as well. Part of my stay was in Accra, and I spent a few nights in Elmina.
SF Bay View: Can you talk about the song you recorded in Ghana as well as the video that you recently shot?
Keidra: I recorded a song titled “Hold Me Down” that is featuring an artist I met in Accra by the name of YaaPono. He’s from Tema, another small city in Ghana. That was an amazing experience because he was so open and easy to work with.
The night before I was scheduled to fly back home to the US, I shot a video to my mental health awareness song, titled “Get Up Get Up.” It was shot by videographer Erick, aka Geeman, and directed by the Tonys’ road manager JR Valrey.
This video is by far the dopest I’ve shot, since it carries a message that encourages every person on Earth to change their perspective and to try to be more intentional about their days. I also had some really young co-stars be a part of my vision.
SF Bay View: Who were some of the interesting people that you met in Ghana?
Keidra: I met radio personalities while I was interviewed during this tour. I met Chayuta and some band members in Accra, an interesting town in Ghana. I met the director of PanaFest and owner of Mables Table, a restaurant on the cusp of the Atlantic Ocean in Elmina. His name is Rabbi Kohin. Let’s just say everyone was so welcoming and I just felt so at home when I was in these people’s company.
SF Bay View: How did the people of Ghana respond to your music?
Keidra: I noticed everyone was really interested in the diversity of the songs I chose to perform. My way of delivering such sound captivated the attention of the Ghanaians and they were eager to know how they can keep in contact.
SF Bay View: What was the best part of your trip?
Keidra: The best part of my trip, I’d have to say, was the part where I could get up as I please – outside of touring, lol – to go get a peace of mind in the mornings by the beach in Elmina. With me just knowing how far I was away from my everyday life in the US, from bills or meaningless conversation – since I had phone service 80 percent of the time – it gave me a rush I felt like would last forever.
SF Bay View: You are on your way back in December. What do you and the Oakland to Accra Connection plan to do out there this time? How could people help?
Keidra: Yes, so people help and be a blessing by donating to my GoFundMe fundraiser here.
SF Bay View: How could people follow your trip?