Yemi Alade: “I’m my biggest challenge”

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Yemi Alade isn’t a new face in the Nigerian music industry anymore.

The 23 year old has shown with her on stage performances how energetic she is and full of life.

She has finally won the heart of Nigerian music lovers and in an exclusive interview with ‘NET NG’, she answers all questions of how she got to where she is now.

Read interview excerpts below: –

What have you been up to in the last couple of months?

I embarked on a nationwide media tour and just got back. The tour was to promote my two new singles ‘My head’ and ‘Birthday song’ and I decided to take a hundred cakes to the media houses.

While on tour in Enugu I recorded a song called ‘Johnny’ with Selebobo. The song has quite a nice storyline attached to it and we’ve been promoting it since we got back. I was recently nominated forExquisite Lady of the Year (ELOY) awards although I didn’t win.

I intend participating in the awareness for breast and cervical cancer and HIV/Aids this December. Uti Nwachukwu would be taking a couple of celebrities on a trip to the orphanages on the 20th of this month. I would also be involved in a programme with Peak Milk; they just made me one of their ambassadors. In January by the special grace of God we are going to schools to encourage kids to stay in school and live their dreams. Even after winning the Peak Talent Show I was still able to stay back in school and get a degree in Geography.

When did you decide to go into music professionally?

I have been doing this music thing for like seven to eight years now; I was in a girl group called Naughty Spices and my stage name then was Ginger (laughs) but I kicked off my career three or four years ago, just after winning the Peak Talent Show.

If you hadn’t won the Peak Talent Show would you still be singing?

I would have deviated to be sincere with you, because I wasn’t 100 per cent keen on dong music professionally. But emerging as winner opened my eyes and made me realise that I have to make something out of this talent.

What inspires your kind of music?

Everything I do comes from the heart. I always try to make sure that a piece of me reflects in all my songs. Secondly the producer has to lace a perfect beat that gives the song the direction I want; if it’s a club joint, I give it the club banger approach and if it’s a ‘silky sheet’ beat I would give the beat the pillow case and all that’s needed to go with it. Inspiration is from my environment and experiences.

Do you think that in terms of vocals you should be ranked in the same category with Waje, Tiwa Savage and Omawumi?

Those that have witnessed the strength of my vocals can attest to the fact that I am a great vocalist and since my talent is God given and can’t go anywhere then it’s just a matter of time. When you open your eyes you open them that is all I can say.

Why hasn’t Yemi Alade gotten that big breakthrough despite the fact that you’ve been in the industry for like four years?

It would be four years by next year. I believe that’s what my team and I have been working on and the only thing that can bring the breakthrough on a major scale is time and chance and this is only made available by God. I know that where I was last year and where I am this year are two different places and for some big shots to recognise me means I’m doing something right. I mean I’m just 23 years old and Waje and the rest are way ahead of me. When I knock on the door, open the door for me abeg.

Who are your role models or people that inspire you to sing more or even help lift your mood?

My role model playlist is quite long. I listen to the powerful three like you said earlier; Waje, Tiwa and Omawumi. Waje is a classic example of a perfect RnB diva, Omawumi is Afro, Tiwa is a perfect Afro Pop singer. But outside the shores of Nigeria I listen to Maria Carey; her voice is like a projection for me, I always try to match her. I love Beyonce’s stage craft but I still take it back to Whitney Houston. I also listen to Etta James. I love listening to old songs so yes my playlist is long.

What are the recently played songs on your iPod right now?

You will find ‘Seun Rere’ by Christy Essien Igbokwe. I recently performed the song at her memorial and then Coldplay’s ‘Fix you’.

Apart from the ‘Power Three’, how competitive is the market amongst yourself, Seyi Shay, Zaina and your other peers?

I believe all the ladies in the industry are really trying, every day we have to look prim and proper and it takes a lot of effort. But I really think that I am my biggest challenge. I’m the one that can hold myself backward or push myself forward, it all depends on me.

When you first started you had a tomboyish look, comparing that to your new sexy look, you’ve considerably changed. Was the transformation as a result of you growing up or your team’s decision to get you a wider fan base?

(Laughs) They say if you have it flaunt it, but on a more serious note I’m still the tomboy till now. It has a little to do with my team though. I’m a chameleon; if you notice me very well I change my hairstyle regularly and in my videos as well. If you don’t know me very well you might be confused as to the Yemi Alade singing. So I guess my style is always changing.

When would you start headlining major events alongside other big names?

Well we are getting there, my new single ‘Johnny’ has been getting massive airplay and love. It’s just about two months old and there’s no telling where it would be in the next couple of months. It’s already been compared to Wizkid’s ‘Caro’ and that’s quite positive so let’s just say in no time we would be on all those major shows.

A lot of people say you’re dating your manager. Is it true?

Well that’s a very awesome question which I get asked a lot of times. The truth of the matter is that when it comes to my relationship I always try to let it reflect in my songs. My relationship status at the moment is in ‘Johnny’, so if you listen to the song, you will know what’s happening in my life. And no, I’m not dating him.

Do you think that industry politics has affected you in any way?

There’s a bit of politicking everywhere so yes it has but if there’s no politics that means there nothing worth fighting for. I really think we need to drop some of those cabal moves because it’s really not helping good music.

With your talent and voice one would have assumed that you would have a lot of massive collaborations which is not so. Why?

If I were to pen down the number of artistes I’ve had collaborations with, they would turn out to be quite a number but right now I’m looking forward to collaborations with other African artistes as well as international acts.

You have about 7- 8 singles and there’s been rumours about you dropping a mixtape as well as an album, can you please clarify that and let us know what’s coming out first?

Well, we have shot the video for ‘Johnny’ during the first week of this month, but my album should be dropping between the next 2-3 months after that, the ‘Aristo Music’ mixtape would also be out

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