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Biography

Paapa Yankson (Benjamin Paapa Kofi Yankson, Winneba, Ghana 22 June 1944 - 21 July 2017) was a Ghanaian highlife musician and producer. He won multiple awards for his songs including best composition at the Konkomba Awards. He was a recipient of The Grand Medal of Ghana for his music.

Benjamin Paapa Kofi Yankson was born in 1944, in Winneba, in the Central Region of Ghana. He was born into a musical family with his father, Benjamin Akono Yankson being a trumpeter with the Apam Brass Band and his trading mother Akua Doma, a member of the Christ Little Band of the Methodist Church. He attended Takoradi Methodist School for his primary education and proceeded to Ahantaman Secondary Commercial School. He graduated from the commercial school with a certificate in stenography. Through out his early life, he had the desire to be a musician and would regularly sing-along with his mother whenever she sung. His parents wanted him to have a white collar job, however.

After graduating from commercial school, he was employed at Kingsway Chemist and worked as a stenographer. After working for five years he resigned and took up an appointment at African Timber and Plywood Company, a subsidiary of the United African Company (UAC), at Samreboi. The company had a workers' band — the Big Sound Band — which performed regularly after work. Yankson became the lead singer of the band and polished his talent during the four years he worked at Samreboi.

In the 1970s, C. K. Mann, the leader of the regional band The Carousel Seven, impressed upon the band's owner, Anis Mubarak, to sign Yankson to the band. Charles Mann had seen Yankson perform during his mother's funeral and C.K. Mann was very impressed by his talent. Paapa Yankson, who saw the opportunity as one that would unite him to his passion, accepted the offer from the band. In 1975 he enrolled at the National Academy of Music at Winneba and graduated with a diploma in music. After graduating, he worked for nine years as a music organizer at the Garrisons Education Unit of Burma Camp in Accra. In 1991, businessman Ebo Coker signed Paapa Yankson to his band Western Diamonds, after which he relocated to Takoradi where the band was based. He left the band in 1993 after a successful stint and joined the Obuasi based band Golden Nuggets. His move to Obuasi was influenced by the then Chief Executive Officer of Ashanti Goldfields Corporation, Sam Jonah. After a while the band was moved to Accra, and in 1995 Paapa Yankson broke away and went solo.

Paapa Yankson recorded over 15 albums during his career with songs such as Wiase Mu Nsem, Show Your Love, Wo Yere Anaa Wo Maame, and Tena Menkyen. In 1997 he composed Yaaba, which won the Best Composition during the Komkomba Awards.

Yankson taught and performed in many countries across the world including United States, Canada, Belgium, United Kingdom, Germany, Holland among others.

In 2006, Paapa Yankson was awarded The Grand Medal of Ghana during the 2006 National Honours and Awards Ceremony by President Kufour in recognition for his contribution to Ghanaian music. He was among the first people to have ever received this award when the ceremony was revamped in 2006.

On 21 July 2017, his family announced his death. It was reported that he had died in his sleep at his home in Dansoman in Accra.

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