2021 Afrochella festival expands with YouTube to support emerging Black voices

A new one-day event in Accra, Ghana will celebrate local music and culture while nurturing the next generation of African creatives and industry professionals

Ghana’s annual Afrochella music festival is back and bigger than ever in 2021, with YouTube teaming up with the event’s organizers to highlight local talent and creativity while nurturing local youth aspiring towards careers in the music industry. The annual music festival, which has been around since 2017 and has activated four times, is expected to bring in 150,000 visitors to Ghana.

But this year, the huge festival is adding a scaled back event to support Ghana’s artistic community. The one-day event, held in conjunction with YouTube, will take place on Dec. 27 at the Afrochella Music Museum, located at Accra’s BBnZ Live. This year marks the return to an in-person format after being cancelled in 2020 due to COVID-19 concerns.

This new event, limited to 100 attendees, will feature Ghanaian producers Juls and GuiltyBeatz leading master classes in music production through the Future Insiders program, part of the #YoutubeBlack Voices Fund’s efforts to provide exposure and learning opportunities to youth around the world.

“We have a program called Future Insiders, which is part of our YouTube Black Voices. YouTube Black Voices is a commitment that we made last year to amplify and support Black voices on our platform. We committed $100 million over three years,” Addy Awofisayo, the head of music for YouTube in Sub-Saharan Africa, told theGrio. This new program is a part of that commitment.

Guest speakers at the event will lead a three-part panel series covering topics including the innovation and creativity of women in the music industry, the impact of the diaspora on the growth of African music and how its future torchbearers will continue to push the culture forward. According to Awofisayo, YouTube and Afrochella reached out to community organizations and identified people who could benefit from the event.

“We wanted to work with community organizations that are basically already doing this work of supporting young people in the music space, or young people that want to have a career in the music space,” she said. “[We’re] going to be partnering with community based organizations that are already doing this work, and then giving them the opportunity to come and learn from Juls and GuiltyBeatz and be a part of our global Future Insiders class.”

Artistes anticipated to perform at this year’s @afrochella 🙌@wizkidayo@stonebwoy@ayrastarr
Kojo Antwi.#Afrochella2021#YHolidayHavoc pic.twitter.com/ZzqJnRqhwh

— Y107.9FM Ghana (@Y1079FM) December 4, 2021

Despite this particular event at Afrochella being a single-day event, Abdul Karim Abdullah, CEO & Co-Founder of Afrochella, told theGrio that the Afrochella museum will remain open from Dec. 23 through Jan. 4 with various programs available for the community to learn about the region’s rich musical history and culture.

“We had an idea that we wanted to do a museum and YouTube has a program that we were unable to adapt into our museum this year. So I would say the concept as it currently exists, would definitely be a collaborative effort between myself and Addy’s team and the rest of the Afrochella team as well,” said Abdullah, before saying he hopes to expand Afrochella’s partnership with YouTube and create new events in Ghana and other African countries.

Abdullah said that this year, the Afrochella team decided they wanted to “educate people about Ghanaian music, and the history of Ghanaian music,” and that is how the museum’s concept came to be. He said that the museum “takes you through a journey of the history of Ghanaian music prior to independence, through independence and to the present.”

Afrochella has a significant economic impact on Ghana, with each visitor spending almost $3,000.

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