Koo Nimo is the leading traditional musician of the Ashanti Region of Ghana. He is Ghana's foremost exponent of acoustic guitar highlife, better known as palm wine guitar music.
Apart from his early exposure to music by his parents and playing in local groups, particularly I.E.'s Band, Koo Nimo also studied classical guitar style, harmony, counterpoint etc. at various times, to enhance his musical appreciation. "I didn't want to be a Segovia. I wanted to be an African guitarist, using my technique to do justice to my own music which I understand better," explains Agya Koo, as he is generally known in Ghana. Although a great consumer of jazz music- from Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington, John Coltrane, Wes Montgomery, Count Basie through Antonio Carlos Jobim and Lorendo Almeida to Thelonius Monk- Agya Koo drew inspiration first from Ghanaian guitarist, Kwabena Onyina. But as he explains, "I didn't, however, want to be a second-rate guitarist, hence my determination to dig into my past for a traditional sound which I have now fashioned. He has represented his country with his Adadam Agofama Group at several international arts festivals and has also toured extensively throughout Europe and America, where he shared the stage with Puerto Rico's Yomo Toro during a 1988 "Guitar Summit".
Koo Nimo also combines his professional and musical careers with other functions at various times- President of the Musicians' Union of Ghana, interim Chairman of the Copyright Society of Ghana, Member of the Board of Directors of Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, Member of the Education Commission of Ghana, part-time lecturer in guitar at the University of Cape Coast, Ghana. amongst numerous others. Some of Koo Nimo's works are studied alongside those of other African musicians in the West African Examination Council (equivalent to GCE) syllabus for music. Koo Nimo is also the Chief Lab Technician at the Biochemistry Department of the University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, Ghana. He is currently studying some courses in Seattle and is traveling to Toronto exclusively for AfroFest.
Notwithstanding his stature and popularity, both within and outside Ghana, Agya Koo remains a man of the people committed to re-exposing his countrymen, particularly the young, to their own folk music. His priceless music represents a living art form - not a museum showpiece- which has given inspiration to such Ghanaian luminaries as George Darko and many others.
A great poet, storyteller and songwriter, with over 50 songs to his credit, Agya Koo communicates in a clear distinctive voice to his audience, mostly in Asante Twi over which he possesses a great command thanks in part to his long association with the Asante Royal family. As his sister was married to one of the brothers of Asantehene (King of Asantes), he too had to move into the palace where he was "irradiated with tradition". No wonder his music has natural hints of adowa kete and many other traditional Asante rythms. His words of wisdom also abound with homilies and proverbs.