Today, February 8, 2019, marks exactly one year since the tragic demise of the late afrobeats/afro-dancehall performer, Priscilla Opoku-Kwarteng “Ebony Reigns”.
She died in a gruesome road accident that occurred on the Sunyani-Kumasi road.
Ebony and three other persons were on board a Jeep with registration AS 497-16, travelling from Sunyani to Kumasi when a head-on collision with a VIP bus heading towards Sunyani from Kumasi occurred.
Her death shook the industry. Tears were all over Ghana and on the internet as well.
She was a young, energetic, resilient and hardworking woman who was on her way to success – in fact, she was almost there when the inevitable quietus took her away from her loved ones and the music industry.
Ebony Reigns was less than two years old in the industry but her impact was beyond those with a decade of experience.
Her death instantly switched rapper, singer and record producer E.L into his poetic mood.
He told me in an interview in 2018: “EBONY, beautiful and bright. Bursting with talent and energy. Opportunity knocked; she rose and shone; vibrant young star. Now suddenly snuffed out; tragedy has struck, the absurdity of life. Yet, the word was planted and found soil. R.I.P, sis”.
A few weeks after her demise, I spoke with a couple of industry people to discuss the impact of her death, and most of them agreed that it was a big blow.
Her talent was exceptional
One of Ghana’s favourite rappers and reigning artiste, Medikal, who used to hang out with the late musician said Ebony knew she was going to blow up because of her determination and her constant brags.
To the “Omo Ada” hitmaker, she possessed great talent and that the world has never experienced her craft.
“Priscilla Opoku was very bright and talented, I was friends with her even before she blew up. We used to hang out around Sowutuom and East Legon even before she became Ebony.
She was so determined and knew what she wanted. She always knew she will become so big and always bragged about it to me which I never doubted.
Her death is a big blow because of her great talent. Ghanaians and the world have never experienced such great talented female artiste in a long time.
I still can’t accept the fact that she is gone. May her soul rest in perfect peace”, Medikal said.
She was an icon
Ebony was an iconic figure who had so many rising female artistes who looked up to her. An example is the number of her doppelgängers who popped up after her demise.
For “You and The Devil” hitmaker Donzy, Ebony was an icon and influenced many young women but her death might discourage them from reaching their dreams.
Donzy stated: “Well, I think Ebony’s death is a big blow to the industry especially to the up and coming female musicians who looked up to her. Because they might be discouraged by all the negative vibes it comes with being at your peak or at the top – not everyone can endure all that as Ebony did”.
Her death created a void
Ebony’s presence was felt when she arrived. Her involvement in music activities in her first year was so impactful that her death will create a space, according to Tema rapper Opanka.
“It’s a big blow to the industry because last year (2017) till her demise was her year in the industry and for that matter, she’s involved in almost all music activities. So her passing will really create a void for some time as her songs are still trending”, Opanka said.
Ebony was a charismatic leader
Rapper Stay Jay believes Ebony possessed all the charismatic leadership qualities and that she put women on a pedestal in the male-dominated music industry.
He stated: “The number of women making waves in the Ghanaian music industry can be counted in just a few seconds.
The late Ebony Reigns gave them the opportunity to show their worth and put them on a pedestal in the music industry.
The attention which she brought onto the female side will reduce drastically as her brand is no more. She stood out as the new voice for the female and her impact was just amazing”.
As an activist, she closed the representation of women’s gap
Just like Stay Jay said, BBnZ Live’s Ko-Jo Cue also believes Ebony was charismatic, bold and covered the representation of women in the music industry.
He also believes Ebony was an activist who stood for freedom of speech through her craft.
“It's a big blow to us because she was such a bold woman and we need the women representation in our arts. The ratio of women to men is really one-sided.
Also, she stood for freedom of expression and art. That'll be missed.
Plus, I know like myself, most people were looking forward to seeing her progress and where she was going to take it next.
But even in death, she's bound to break records by not only being the first female to win artiste of the year but also being the first posthumous artist of the year. We will really miss her”, Ko-Jo Cue noted.
Rapper Flowking Stone added that: “she was a free spirit who wasn't scared to express herself no matter the criticism”.
She was ‘nonchalance personified’
Fast rapper Gemini describes the late sassy songstress as a ‘nonchalance personified’. He believes Ebony’s legacy survived her demise and she lives on through her music.
Gemini told me: “Well, my description of her was "nonchalance personified". Met her in person just once but I always felt her presence in the 'industry' after the release of her 'poisonous' "POISON" banger.
How she died can only be described as a lit candle exposed to a wind storm; she was put out too quickly.
But her legacy survived her demise and she lives on through her music; her light still shines.
Her one-week remembrance ceremony reminded me of the crowd that thronged her Bonified concert of which I was honoured to have performed.
That night, she 'Reigned' over the heavy rains and continued to dominate her female contemporaries in the industry until her untimely death.
She reigned indeed. Even in her death she still does. Ebony Reigns. My Artiste of the Year (2018).
May God rest her soul, Amen.”
The producer behind E.L’s hit songs “Koko” and “Agbo” and Shatta Wale’s “My Level”, Pee GH thinks Ebony’s created a unique brand that can’t be replicated even after her death.
“Ebony was a very talented vocalist and entertainer with a unique brand which I think will be difficult to replicate in some years to come”, he noted.
She championed feminism
While a group of keyboard warriors are on social media blowing their own horn, VRMG rapper Edem thinks Ebony stood for women and championed feminism on a low-key.
The “Fiefuor” rapper is of the view that Ebony set the tone for all young girls with her craft.
“Ebony's death is a big blow. She was on the journey to set the tone for all young girls to believe that you can be an artiste of the year as a female and was also unknowingly championing feminism”, Edem said.
Her benign disposition
Peewezel, the record producer behind Ebony’s breakthrough single “Kupe”, thinks her benign disposition is everything and that she will be greatly missed.
He recalls that Ebony was keen and passionate about her career. He says these qualities made her a legend.
Peewezel stated: “The demise of Ebony Reigns is poignant and quite demoralizing to the music industry.
Working with Ebony on her "Kupe" song, made me realise how keen and passionate she was about her music career (flitting memories of the times we spent working in the studio).
Not forgetting her benign disposition. ‘Wotumi ma me fans saa na metri ada’.
Ebony came, soared and conquered. She gave Ghanaian musicians a run for their money.
Dropping hits back to back. She's simply a legend. And it's so unfortunate she had to exit so soon. I will forever miss her”.
She was destined to take Ghana music to the next level
BBnZ Live’s rapper and record producer Shaker and former Lynx Entertainment label songstress Eazzy are of the view that despite her enviable achievements, Ebony was born to lift the industry up.
“She was one of the few destined to take Ghana music to a level yet to be attained”, says Shaker.
Eazzy added: “It's really sad to think we have lost Ebony forever. We were looking forward to seeing her blossom in the industry. This is a very big loss and I wish the family God's strength through this loss and may he rest her soul in perfect peace”.
She will never be forgotten
Ebony Reigns will never be forgotten – no matter what. Even though her days were few, Black Avenue Muzik record label owner D-Black and multiple award-winning blogger Ameyaw Debrah believe her memories will live forever.
“Hearing the news of Ebony’s passing is for me the saddest I’ve been in a long time. It’s a huge blow to our country’s entertainment industry and it’s hard to even fathom.
When I think about it, it saddens me. But God knows best, so all I can say is may she rest in the bosom of the Lord.
May her soul rest in perfect peace. Ebony’s impact in a few years has been nothing short of amazingly epic. She’ll never be forgotten”, D-Black said.
Ameyaw Debrah noted: “'For me the loss of any life is tragic and it is particularly sad for the life of young talent such as Ebony to be snatched away; just when she was peeking.
It's a sad loss to the industry because for me, we hadn't seen a female act being this huge in a long time, and she represented the idea that it was possible.
Yes, her dressing and controversial manners got the headlines for all the wrong reasons but her musical talent was unmissable!”
For a young talent like Ebony who wielded so much power, influenced many, faced critics like never before, stood for her rights and other fellow young women and moved Ghana music to the next level, her death was a big blow to the industry and she will indeed be missed forever.