Soundtrack: David Adjaye

Celebrated British architect, David Adjaye OBE, shares the classic songs that soundtracked his childhood

Photo: Ed Reeve
David Adjaye – Photo: Ed Reeve

One of the first songs I remember hearing and enjoying was ‘Ghana Freedom’ by E.T. Mensah. It expressed all the energy of that moment, with Ghana becoming a free country, referencing military bands, churches and the general euphoria of independence. Later on, Message in a Bottle by The Police became the first record I ever bought. We were living in north London by then and it came out on my birthday, 21st September 1979. It was a collision with a new culture; the song resonated with all the influences that attracted me at the time really spoke about the diversity of London.

My parents introduced us to music, with tracks like ‘Ghana Freedom’ and then later I remember ‘Sweet Mother’ by Prince Nico Mbarga, for example. My family had moved to Saudi Arabia, which felt like a very closed place. We became transfixed by the story of “death of a princess”, which was highly topical at the time… The song was an ode to remembering. It symbolised our gaze back to Ghana and the sentimentality of the positive vibe of independence that we carried with us.

Dialogues by David Adjaye and his brother Peter Adjaye, is out now via The Vinyl Factory