Spoken Word and Poetry has become quite a new wave form of performance in the entertainment industry in Ghana. Popular Spoken Word artists like Poetra Asantewaa, Akotowaa, Jo Nkietah, Maame Danfoa, Nana Asaase, Rhyme Sonny to name but a few have developed their unique style of delivering their oratory art form of sharing personal opinions on social and cultural issue in the country.
I chanced on some recent videos of his performance and I was in awe at what I saw. He is not just into poetry but also into Painting, sculpturing, drawing and acting. As a medical doctor by profession one would ask how Dr. Opare juggles his profession with this fascinating talents. Needless to say he has won the hearts of many and a standing ovation too.
I met up with Elvis Opare recently to learn more about his craft as a spoken word artist.
Akosua: It’s an honour to have you Elvis
Elvis: It is really my humblest pleasure to be here. Thanks
Akosua: Your poems are very passionate, both in delivery and content. What led to the passion for spoken word?
Elvis: Personally, I have had difficulty answering this question, I essentially write how I feel or speculate/envision/think on how the idea or topic I am penning down could affect any one that is including me. This, also translates in my delivery or performance. Writing to me has always been innate. My observations as well as my experience in my life so far just kind of fuels my content and delivery, not forgetting the power of ones mind – the power of imagination.
Akosua: By innate, would you say that most of your write up sterns from real life experience(s)?
Elvis: Yes I would say a couple.
Akosua: Who is Dr. Elvis Opare?
Elvis: Hahaa. Deep one. I am first all a man who believes in all things – that is to say open-minded and very inviting to anything new. I am sucker for the arts and believe in the power of the arts ie drawing, painting, acting, writing (poetry, stories, spoken word), sculpturing… I mean anything that involves translating the abstract into reality. Surprising, I am Doctor.
Would you say, you made a wrong choice in career path during High school days?
Elvis: I would just say this, “Had I known…”
Akosua: “Had I known…?”
But Dr. It has paid off. Right? I mean you are a Medical Doctor and it’s an honourable Job plus it’s well paid too.. compared to poetry. Think through…would you have made money with poetry?
Elvis: Well, “well paid”, that is quite debatable. It is an honourable job. Yes. Poetry is an avenue not just based on skill but passion as well, just like any other profession. Would I have made money? hmmm… why not? there are many millionares in the performing arts. Remember “the gift of a man will make way for him” . I wished I had known sooner. So, yes, it is possible to make money and ” not just manage in life”
Akosua: Is this a full time Job aside your field of Medicine or a side gig?
Elvis: for now it is something I do on the side, but i wouldn’t mind diving all in when the opportunity presents itself. I am really passionate about writing, spoken word and acting.
How did you feel after that terrific performance
Elvis: It was an incredible moment and the biggest live performance I have done so far. It was also a redefining point in my journey of performing as I had just gone through a terrible live spoken word performance like a month or so and also as i had little to time to prepare for the Yadah 2019 performance.
Akosua: Talking about “preparation” as a spoken word artist Can you perform without Massive preparations? So we say you are Extemporaneous at certain times ?
Elvis: I believe in preparation. Preparation is highly vital in any performers life and routine. that is consistent practice on your piece and your craft. Live performance can be scary at times. So going on stage without adequate preparation doesnt bode well for any performer. lack of preparation always shows. It is not the prayer of any performer that something goes awry while performing but with adequate preparation and consistency, there is a 100% chance of remarkable recovery or improvision that sometimes goes unnoticed by the audience.
Akosua: I have been wondering. Why the stage name “Sparie”?
Elvis: My last name is Opare. So I just replaced the O with S as the S stands for Success and I changed the syllable at the end to make easy for folks to easily pronounce it Internationally.
Akosua: How do you juggle everything. poetry and painting plus your current job. ?
Elvis: Simple. Make a plan and follow it. I try my very best to avoid procrastinating and work, work, work. Hard work
Akosua: 7 months ago you released your poem .“FORGIVE ME”
Do you see it as an easy task? Most especially when you just can’t forget about how hurtful people seem to be
Elvis: Yes. The thing is we all make mistakes. After all, “let him who has never sinned be the first to cast a stone”. However, some mistakes are very grievous to let go on whim or on simple apology. I wrote that piece “FORGIVE ME” on the basis of just forgiveness being really enough? Forgive me but the most important factor is the change. Forgive me but the essential element is my repentance from what I do. Forgiveness in itself I think would be meaningless if the “offender” never changes. the pieces also targetted inner forgiveness – people never tend to forgive themselves for their wrongs and issues. Sometimes people do/say hateful things not because they hate but because they hurt.
Akosua: I can see a bit of poetic lines in there..😄😄
Akosua: Are your parents supportive with this talent?
Elvis: Yes they are. I have the best parents who are willing to support me in any venture provided it is what I truly desire.
Akosua: How are you using social media to brand yourself?
Any social media handles my ardent readers can follow you on?
Elvis: YouTube is very critical. that is where i upload all of my performances and videos. I use instagram and twitter to promote my videos as well. But it is something that actually out of my expertise but I try.
These are my social media handles Instagram: @elvis_opare
YouTube: word with sparie
Akosua: I loved watching your video on ” The Vow- I will love you till you die” It was so real and I could relate to it.
Of all your performances, which one would you say is the best of them all or your favorite?
Akosua: What challenge(s) do you face as a spoken word artist?
Elvis: First of all, it is the uncertainty if your piece will be well received by people
Also, for me “dramatizing” and “digitizing” my pieces take a lot of time and financial backing.
Akosua: Talking about financial backing, if it’s a challenge why don’t you just do the others and stick to spoken word as a fun activity or a hobby?
Elvis: The fact that something is hard, is not the proof that it will never crack. I have to understand that the secret is never stopping – I mean perseverance. It is my passion, my goal, so i may slow down but i will not stop. The best I will do is regroup, restrategize, refine and go in again. it all conforms to the chapters to the novel.
Akosua: As compared to the States, would you say People there are doing much better than Africa?
Because in Africa, Spoken word and Poetry isn’t well noticed and paid too
Elvis: Yes I guess. but in terms of fan base and audience. Also, in terms of revenue and sponsorship, artists outside of Africa have a network and a support sytem.
Akosua: Where’s your favourite place to be in for creative idea(s)?
Elvis: It is doesn’t matter to some extent for me but room is kind of my “shrine” and my brain. Well i have got a white board, I got writings and quotes pasted at various places in my room. I can galavant and pace up freely in my room when I’m in thought. However, with that aside, I can write anywhere…I even wrote a short piece in a noisy boys dormitory back in Senior High school at St. Peters. one time amidst all the commotion.
Akosua: Any word of encouragement for any young woman wants to venture into the spoken word industry?
Elvis: Don’t just be lyrical, mean it…that way people believe your words and then relate and by that your words become influential.
Akosua: Thanks so much Sparie. We appreciate this! More wins and we hope to have more performances and nice paintings after Covid-19.
Elvis: Thanks very much too. it is wonderful having share something with everyone and do not take this interaction for granted. thanks and stay safe.
Some of Elvis’ performance(s).
1. Watch “THE VOW – I will love you till I die” on YouTube
2. Watch “THE MESSAGE EVERY WOMAN MUST HEAR [Spoken Word]” on YouTube
3. Watch “BLACK WOMAN (PART 1): DARE TO EMBRACE YOUR BLACKNESS [live stage performance]” on YouTube
Watch “LETTER TO MY MISTRESS || Poetry” on YouTube
Images and Artistic Works of Elvis Opare.
Akosua & Elvis