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'Made in Akron' CD by teen musician a thank you to the city

by April Helms | Special Products Editor Published: September 2, 2016 12:00 AM
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The Akron Civic Theatre's Sept. 30 Club@The Civic concert will serve as a dedication to Akron, from a 16-year-old pianist.

The Civic will host Kofi Boakye's "Made in Akron" CD release concert, which starts at 8 p.m.

"This is my way of giving thanks to Akron," said Boakye, who was born in Akron and attends Akron Early College. "Akron has done so much for me as a young musician."

The EP includes five tracks, Boakye said.

"This is my third CD, but the first where everything was composed by me," he said, adding that "Made in Akron" included a mix of standard jazz, R&B and classical pieces.

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"All the songs were written over the past couple of years, inspired by my experiences and by other musicians whom I admire," he said.

Boakye said that playing at the Akron Civic fulfills a dream he has had for years.

"This year, it seems I've had a lot of dreams come true," he said. "Earlier this year, I performed at E.J. Thomas with the Akron Symphony Orchestra."

Ultimately, Boakye said he would love to tour and perform at places such as Madison Square Garden.

Boakye said that he had heard stories from his family that his grandfather, who died before Boakye was born, had played guitar with B.B. King. Boakye's own foray into playing the piano started when he was 9 years old, and his mother showed him an advertisement offering piano lessons.

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"I said I'd give it a try," he said.

Boakye's initial reaction?

"I hated it," he said. "It was a group lesson with 5-year-olds, and they were playing fast."

He wanted to quit after the first lesson, but Boakye said the piano teacher pulled him aside and encouraged him to stick with it.

"She said 'I want to offer you private lessons,'" he said. "'I see something in you.'"

So Boakye said he continued and "I caught on quickly."

Since then, Boakye has performed in the Gospel Music Workshop of America as the organist for the National Children's and National Men's Choirs, as well as performing for the Ohio-Pennsylvania District Mega Assembly. Locally, Kofi regularly serves as musical director for church choirs, praise teams, and is often recruited to oversee the music production for gospel stage plays. He also toured Germany and Prague with the Miller South Show Choir.

In addition, in 2014, the White House awarded Kofi with the "President's Education Award for Outstanding Academic Excellence" and he earned it while balancing school and his music career.

Boakye said ultimately, he uses music to get his message of hope across.

"At the end of the day, I'm a 16-year-old with a passion," he said. "I'm African-American, 16, from a single parent household. I've done what I've done against all odds. I'm not supposed to do things like perform at the Civic. But don't let the past define you. Don't let history define you. You can create your own story, all you have to do is write it."

This is a cabaret performance, set on the Civic stage. Performers and audience are on the beautiful Civic stage for the performance. Tickets are available at the Akron Civic Theatre box office, by calling 330-253-2488 or online at www.akroncivic.com.

Email: ahelms@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9438

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