Benjamin Paapa Kofi Yankson was born on June 22, 1944 at Winneba. His latent music flair was discovered at the funeral of a neighbour. He landed his first music contract during his mother’s funeral. And for more than 30 years Paapa Yankson has produced music that has brought life to many dead souls.
Even though both of his parents were musicians, they didn’t want him to take up singing. Insteaed they wanted him to have a white collar job. His father, Benjamin Akono Yankson, was a reputable trumpeter with the Apam Brass Band while his mother Akua Doma, a trader, was a member of the Christ Little Band of the Methodist Church. According to him, anytime his mother sang while doing her house chores, he sang along with her.
After he had left the Takoradi Methodist School he enrolled in the Ahantaman Secondary Commercial School where he studied and obtained a certificate in stenography. He got a job at the Kingsway Chemists Limited where he worked as a stenographer for five years. He later landed a job at the African Timber and Plywood Company, a subsidiary of the United African Company (UAC), at Samreboi. UAC had a band, the Big Sound Band, so he played as the lead singer while he worked as a stenographer for the company for four years.
When his mother died and he attended the funeral in Takoradi, a band, the Carousel Seven, came and set up its instruments to play. He later learnt that the band had been looking for him for years and that when they heard about his mother’s death they came to the funeral in the hope that they could woo him to play with them. It was the same band that young Yankson had sung for, while with friends at a neighbour’s funeral years before his mother’s demise.
Upon the recommendation of great musician, C. K. Mann, who was the leader of the Carousel Seven, the proprietor of the band, Annis Mubarak, invited Paapa Yankson to play with his band. Paapa Yankson was more than eager to take up the job.
In 1975 he enrolled at the National Academy of Music, Winneba, to read a diploma programme in music, after which he took up a job as the music organizer at the Garrisons Education Unit, Burma Camp in Accra, where he worked for nine years- from 1982 to 1991. Mr. Ebo Coker, a businessman, asked Paapa Yankson to come back to Takoradi in 1991 to help form the Western Diamonds Band. Paapa was put in charge of singing and directing. When the band found its feet after two years he left.
The Chief Executive Officer of the then Ashanti Goldfields Limited, Mr Sam Jonah, invited Paapa over to Obuasi to help form a band for the company. With his support, the Golden Nuggets Band was born and upon his request the band was moved from Obuasi to Accra. He played for the Nuggets till 1995 when he decided to go solo.