Thursday, April 23, 2009

Profile: Dominic Ansa Asare

Story: Hadiza Nuhhu Billa Quansah

His passion for music started at the tender age of six when he learnt how to play the piano perfectly, to the admiration of his family and entire church congregation. Today, what was started over 30 years ago as a hobby has been built upon to become a lifetime career.

Dominic does not only play the piano; he is now into music business as well. He owns a production company known as MIDO. Here, there is a well-built studio where he produces jingles and creates adverts for radio and television. Besides, he trains people on vocal coaching and choir directing and provides short courses in live sound engineering and recording studio engineering.

Dominic Ansa Asare is not a stranger on our television sets. He is an articulate judge on Mentor, a live musical performance show on TV3. His unbiased criticism of the performance of the contestants makes him the toast of many viewers of the show every Sunday.

Looking sharp and gentle in a black suit, the Junior Graphic caught up with him at his office last week Monday to share in his music laurels. In a chat, Dominic, as he is affectionately called, disclosed that he started music at the age of six. 

“My dad was a music teacher at the Yaa Asantewaa Girls’ Secondary School and later Prempeh College so music was brewed right in my house,” he said with a smile.

He said initially he started playing the piano at home just for fun and later decided to take it seriously when a family friend who was three years older than he came to the house to play better than he. 

“The boy could play any tune, from Handel to Mozart. And these are very challenging and heavy tunes for a child to play. I, therefore, decided to challenge him, since the piano was in my house 24 hours,” he recalled.

With that challenge at the back of his mind, Dominic spent longer hours playing various tunes just to beat his family friend to it. He said sometimes he had to skip food just to play the keyboard to his satisfaction.

 Gradually, his dream came true. At age nine he was the church organist for the Kwadaso Presbyterian secondary school, the school pianist and also a visiting pianist for several Presbyterian churches till date.

Dominic recalled an interesting event which took place while he was in secondary school. According to him, one day when it was time for church, the lights went off and all the students started jumping and shouting in excitement. For them, church service was over. Interestingly, Dominic, who was then the school pianist, walked majestically into the hall, searched for the piano and started playing some hymns for the service to commence. That really startled most of his colleagues, who nicknamed him the keyboard wizard.

Asked if he ever had time for his books and even helped in doing some of the house chores, Dominic surprisingly disclosed that he was a professional Agricultural Economist.

 “In fact, you can call me a trained farmer and you will not be far from right. I know it will come as a surprise to a lot of people who don’t know me very well,” he said.

On house chores, Dominic described himself as an excellent cook. He explained that he had only two sisters and, therefore, all the boys in the house had a role to play in the house.

 “I swept the compound always, cleaned the living room and also cooked for the house. I know how to prepare simple dishes such as rice and the most difficult ones such as banku and fufu. I can also mix cake and bake it,” he said.

According to him, although he is so much into music, he actually studied science at both the Ordinary and  Advanced levels at  Prempeh College. 

“When I got to secondary Form Three, I wanted to change from the sciences to General Arts so I could carry on with music as a subject.  However, I was having problems with the changes so I switched back to the sciences again in Form Four,” he recollected.

After secondary school, he went to the University of Ghana, Legon, to study Agricultural Science. 

At the university, Dominic did not put aside his music career. He converted his wardrobe into a studio and put a microphone in it where he and his friends played songs and also did some recordings for themselves.

Besides, he was the General Secretary for the Presbyterian Students Association and he was always on the move, travelling from one place to another. Due to that, many were those who thought Dominic would not excel in his university education, including even his father. He, however, proved them wrong by coming out with a Second Class (Upper Division) degree.

Immediately after university, Dominic was appointed  a teaching assistant and was attached to the University Research Farms. He later moved to Afariwa Farms. 

“At Afariwa, I was seconded to the Hove Farms in the Volta Region. I, however, fell in love with the farm and took an appointment there,” he disclosed.

He worked on that farm between 1995 and 1999 and developed it to win the Best Farm award for the Volta Region in 1999. Having chalked up that success, he decided to move to Accra in 2000 to start his own business.

“While I was in the Volta Region, I always bought musical instruments whenever I travelled to Accra. As a result, I had enough instruments to enable me start my music business,” he noted.

Dominic started his music business in a single room which was partitioned into sound, voice and control rooms. Fortunately, as the business grew, he decided to leave the single room for a more spacious office at Asylum Down in Accra.

His outfit was the brain behind the jingle for the new Ghana cedis. He has also composed several songs for some corporate bodies and school anthems for some private schools. 

When it comes to Information and Communications Technology (ICT), Dominic is also a master in that field. 

He also has to his credit numerous international certificates in music.

Dominic,  the sixth of eight children, was born on January 2, 1969 to the late Julius Ansa Asare and Mrs Josephine Ansa Asare. The keyboard wizard hails from Larteh in the Eastern Region. He started his primary education at the Tanoso Anglican Primary between 1975 and 1976. He later moved to  Prempeh Primary School from 1977 to 1980 and had his secondary education at  Prempeh College from 1981 to 1988.

Dominic, who is a devoted Presbyterian, is married to Mina Ansa Asare, with whom he has two children, Kobby and Lois.

He believes in the ‘can-do spirit’. Aside his passion for music, he is also a very good tennis player.

According to him, whatever one wants do, one must do it to the best of his or her ability. 

“Although my father was a music teacher, I never waited for him to teach me the rudiments of music. I learnt them myself and while I was growing up I bought a lot of books which taught people how to do things on their own. This is the best way to broaden one’s knowledge and study as well,” he advised.

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