Okaidja was born in 1975 into a family of singers and songwriters in Ghana. His crippled uncle was the town’s notorious composer who spared no one with the songs he wrote about life in the township of Kokrobitey, a small fishing village on the west coast of Ghana. Okaidja’s mother, Atsiawa Kodjo, was a colorful lead singer in the spiritual church she attended. Auntie Atsiawa’s powerful songs of praise gained her a warm reputation in the community and earned her the name “the spiritual singer.” As a young boy Okaidja sang in churches and while he worked as a canoe boy on fishing boats on the weekends. Out on the fishing boats, the fishermen would sing a cappella songs as they worked, and Okaidja passed the long days learning the songs of the great Naaye (sea).
By the age of 19, Okaidja was accepted as a professional musician and dancer for the prestigious Ghana Dance Ensemble at the University of Ghana’s Institute of African Studies. He became well known for his energetic stage presence and excelled in his performances of the Ga fetish songs and dances. The Ghana Dance Ensemble gave Okaidja the opportunity to study with the best teachers in the country such as the late Emeritus Professor A.M. Opoku. Upon his return from the 1997 U.S tour with the Ensemble, Okaidja was invited to teach Ghanaian drumming and dance workshops in Germany. He traveled throughout Germany teaching Ghanaian music and dance. He came back to the Ghana Dance Ensemble in 1998, but not for long. Word about Okaidja’s talent and bright spirit was spreading through the music world.
At the same time, the legendary Obo Addy was looking for fresh, young talent to bring to his group in Portland, Oregon. One day after a grueling rehearsal with the Ensemble, Okaidja walked out of the auditorium and was met by Obo Addy. The two made an instant connection and soon Okaidja was packing his bags to move to the USA to work with Obo’s group, Okropong. Okaidja served as a principal dancer and gave memorable performances with Okropong at major festivals and performance venues such as the Kennedy Center, the Newmark Theater and the WOMAD Festival.
In 2005 Okaidja recorded his first solo album, The Traditionalist. This album is Okaidja’s interpretation of the folkloric songs he grew up singing. The listener is able to experience the rawness and emotions that he feels as he sings about his homeland. He followed with a second album, Obutu Apla. With Obutu Apla, Okaidja ventures away from the strictly traditional. Songs on this album highlight Okaidja’s impressive vocal abilities through his passion-filled lyrics that tell stories about love and life. This album was influenced by Okaidja’s inquiry into the African Diaspora. It contains elements of Afro-Cuban, Afro-Brazilian, Afro-Peruvian, and Blues music.
Okaidja’s career shifted as he began to do extensive research into the connections between African music and the music of the African Diaspora. The discoveries he made prompted him to form Shókoto Music & Dance Project. With Shókoto Okaidja shifted his focus away from Ghanaian traditional songs to music inspired by the African Diaspora.