Jackline Acheampong, known professionally as Gyakie (actually pronounced Jackie), is a Ghanaian afrobeat/afro singer. You probably know her from her smash hit “Forever,” which went on to top global music charts and later got a remix featuring Nigerian Superstar Omah Lay. As a 22 years old who went into the mainstream two years ago, Gyakie has established herself as a fresh voice whose talent and spectacular music are contributing to the impressive success of the underrepresented female end of the Ghanaian music industry.
The daughter of Ghanaian highlife legend Ernest ‘Owoahene’ Nana Acheampong – one-half of the famous Lumba Brothers, she literally has music in her veins. Her familial connection to a Ghanaian great had a strong influence on her love for music from a young age and on her becoming the fledgling musician she is today, but there’s more to the story.
Over zoom, Gyakie is getting ready for her performance at the Palladium in NYC but is still excited to talk to me. Our conversation is centred on her growing up around music, the pressure of having a legendary father, exploring life, her latest sophomore project – “My Diary” EP, being an Apple Music Africa Rising Artist, and the incredible run she has recorded since her debut. Interview by Ayo Lawal
Talk me through your music journey. From your first single, “Love is pretty”, to becoming this global superstar?
Music started for me officially in 2019. I was in school at the time – The Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST). This was when I released my first song, shortly followed by “Never Like This”, – which happened to be my biggest song in Ghana.
Fast forward to 2020, I released my first EP, “Seed”, – which is the project that housed “Forever.” Since then, it’s just been about growth – gathering a wider audience worldwide.
Your EP is titled “My Diary.” Is there a specific reason for this title?
Yes! Recording this was centred around what I say to myself, things I have actually written down in my diary. Listening to this project – especially the last song, “Waka Waka” – you’d realise I’m talking about the things I’m going through and the things I’m looking forward to achieving in the future.
This is your second EP – the first was “Seed.” Do you genuinely think your music has evolved or ‘matured’ since 2020, when you released the first one?
Most definitely! There’s a huge difference. I was very intentional about this project – From the issues to be discussed to the production to song selection. Furthermore, before the EP, I hadn’t released new music in a while. This afforded me to put it all into my next drop, and I think it paid off. It’s beautiful, and fans are really enjoying it.
What’s the reaction like for you? It’s easy to look from the outside, see numbers, and say it’s a success. But is this EP doing exactly what you imagined and envisioned?
Everyone is talking about how it isn’t easy to choose a favourite song from the first to the last song. I’m very proud that what was intended for the people to fall in love with came to pass.
Do you have a favourite track off the new EP?
It’s very hard for me to pick a favourite, to be quite honest. If I had to, my top two would be “Flames” with Davido and “Far Away.”
We see artists linger in the ‘upcoming’ phase for so long before getting their big break. For some, they never get the chance. Starting music in 2019, did you think it was going to be an instant success story for you?
Deep down, I always knew they’d be a time when everyone around the world would hear my music and enjoy my sound.
Where do you think this confidence came from? Would you say your Dad’s influence rubbed off on you? Were you feeding from his energy?
My Dad is definitely one of the reasons I fell in love with music. I grew up listening to music. I grew up around music. I grew up experiencing his shows, rehearsals and recordings. I became a fan of music from a very young age, and this boosted my confidence in making music now.
Ghanaian highlife legend popularly known as Nana Acheampong – one-half of the famous Lumba Brothers – is your Dad. Did you always know you were going to do this? Was he the inspiration? Do you feel any pressure to match up or be more significant than your Dad?
I remember when I officially announced that he was my Dad, the pressure was a lot. The comments and side remarks about living up to the high standards by Dad had already set really got to me in the early times. Now, I’ve completely let it go. Now, I believe I’m on a different path than my Dad.
What was growing up as a Ghanaian Gen Zer like – especially with who your Dad was?
I practically grew up in Kumasi, in the Ashanti Region of Ghana. Throughout my education, I went to a school in Kumasi – primary, secondary & tertiary. Mostly because of Dad, I was always indoors and didn’t get the chance to go out as often – This made me an introvert growing up. It was just Me, my family, travels, and music most of the time. I just recently started going out more and exploring places.
How did “Song Bird” come about?
It’s actually a nickname that was given to me by my manager. Why? Because you can relate birds with music. It popped up in his head, spilt out from his mouth, and since then, it has stuck! The ‘song bird’ is the music lady. The ‘song bird’ is my alter ego. The ‘song bird’ is the other side of Gyakie.
What do you think is missing from the Ghanian Music scene that you’d love to see more of?
I’d love to see more women! Women are underrepresented in the Ghanaian music industry, and that has to change.
Besides that, it looks solid, and the future seems bright.
What do you like to do for fun – when you’re not touring as such?
I love the beach a lot! I love it so much. I also love to travel – meet new people, try different foods and experience new cultures.