Meet The Rising Extempore Female Spoken Word Artist -Emma Ofosua.
Spoken Word has over the past 5 years become quite a new wave form of performance in the entertainment industry in Ghana. Popular Spoken Word artists like Mutombo Da Poet, Poetra, Nana Asaase, Rhyme Sonny to name but a few have developed their unique style of delivering their oratory art form of sharing personal opinions on social and cultural issues in the country.
A few months ago, I was a guest speaker at SEEK’s monthly reading session and encountered a rather talented young woman who delivered a fascinating style of spoken word I was unfamiliar with. She was given random words from the audience and without any form of preparation launched into a 3 minute long poem which combined these random words in perfect unison. Needless to say she had a standing ovation.
I met up with Emma Ofosua recently to learn more about her craft as an extempore spoken word artist in Ghana.
NOQ - How did you venture into extempore spoken word ? How did it all start for you?
Emma: Back in 2009 I started writing my thoughts in a notebook and this was actually inspired by a friend of a friend who surprisingly I never met again after that brief moment of inspiration. She asked if I was a poet after hearing me talk with a friend. My response was it had never crossed my mind. She encouraged me to write whatever came to mind and flow with it since I was pretty much clueless about poetry. So I actually started scribbling my lines in a little notebook. I also figured out how to think very well on my feet whilst on my feet combined with oratory skills, this started somewhere between 2010 and 2011. I also joined the Speakers & Singers Association (SASA) which is a confluence of Christian creative artists and we use the art to promote awareness for causes and preach the gospel. We had a meeting one time and someone asked us to create something on the spot so I volunteered and that’s where extempore spoken word started.
NOQ - Is this a full time activity or a side gig?
Emma: Since last year I have been working on my own as an entrepreneur in the creative industry. I make beads, we bring back the culture of giving through creating customised gift hampers, I also do event coordination and plan events and sometimes emcee events.
NOQ - Where’s your favourite place to be in for creative ideas?
Emma : My bed is one of my favourite places to write in but mostly when I am travelling or on the road to someplace.. I get a lot of ideas when I am being driven, and I usually write these down in a book or jot a few things down on my phone.
NOQ - How does your family feel about your talent ?
Emma: My family is quite supportive and they actually showed up for the first time at the recently held Open Mic event by JoyFm. One of older sisters has been to a few of my events and is very supportive. I have been a creative all my life and my family doesn’t object to what I am naturally gifted with. My brother encourages me to write more. My struggle was when I decided to pursue Visual Arts in High School even though family suggested Science or General Arts. I stuck to my guns and studied Visual Arts.
NOQ: What was your first paid show?
Emma: I have never actually been paid to do spoken word. I didn’t see it as a commercial venture, I just loved to do it. I would do it anytime. I was doing this at the University level back in KNUST. However, over time I have developed rates now. I held a reading session last year which people paid to attend, it was very encouraging.
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Last night at the Ghana women of the year honorary awards with the gifted @nana_ak_dwumens. Thank you @glitzafrica for the opportunity. Congratulations to all the beautiful , strong and determined women who were honoured. Well deserving. #blackgirl #Poetry #song #oblayo #Shespeaks #firsttime #BabaGod #WeAllWin
NOQ- What challenge(s) do you face as a spoken word artist?
Emma: It’s coming up with deep content every time. I try to make it worthwhile for my audience who have high expectations of my delivery. Making the time to read wide to get more information for content can be a challenge. Another thing is also getting paid for what I do as a spoken word artist. People value the art form of spoken word that’s why it’s usually part of an event’s program outline. But paying for that service becomes a problem for them. It will change over time though, I am hopeful.
NOQ: You mentioned that you read wide to get deeper content. What books are currently in your bookshelf?
Emma: I read fiction, news articles, novels from authors such Danielle Steel, Harry Potter series ( my love for mysteries and mythological stories), I have motivational books by authors such as TD Jakes, Joyce Meyer as well as business books. These are part of my mini library collection at the moment. I had a target to get at least 50 books in my library by 2010. Thankfully I reached that targer and I have tried to read most of them.
NOQ- How are you using social media to brand yourself as a spoken word artist?
Emma: I created a YouTube channel where I post events I host like the reading session I held last year. That’s one way I market what I do online. I am part of the directors for SASA and through the associations activities, my work gets noticed. I share upcoming events, new blog posts on Instagram which gets me some visibility.
NOQ- What’s your vision for this year?
Emma: This year I plan on creating a lot of content for my blog and my YouTube because I believe they will serve as a point of reference for future opportunities with clients. After studying a few creatives I follow, I realised they always have a backlog of content until they were discovered and had their big break.
NOQ- Any word of encouragement for any young woman wants to venture into the spoken word industry.
Emma: The only way to get started is actually get started. Just do it. If you want to write, just start writing. Same for spoken word. I would also encourage more women to go deeper into social issues in their content delivery to appeal to a wider audience. Most female spoken word artists focus on love topics which kind of limits their audience range. Be confident. The doubts and fears will always come to make you question if you are good enough. Face your fears head-on because you will always have someone believing in your craft.
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