Category Archives: Music

New Exclusive Interview With me on NotJustOk TV

Lioness Oyinbo NEA Winner Exclusive InterviewI’m so excited to present a brand New exclusive interview With me on the Nigerian Music blog NotJustOk. The interview was recorded in Dallas Texas and I talk about my love for Afrobeat, Challenges in the Music industry and my perspectives as a disabled artist. I also sing the Nigerian National anthem.

 

You can find notjustok at http://www.notjustok.com

Corporate brand ambassadour deals should be more available to street artists

When I read that David Adeleke, AKA Davido had signed a deal with Pepsi, to be one of its ambassadours, I was not really surprised. After all, he’s a popular artist. But it got me thinking, what about the street artists? Why don’t Pepsi and other brands sign more deals with them?

 

It makes sense why different brands choose somebody who has an established brand to represent them, because of sales numbers etc. And sometimes artists who are not born from money get signed which is good. But I wish there was more of that. One thing I have learned in the music industry, and not just the Nigerian one, is that you really need money to make money. Not that you always have to pay extortionate promo costs, but photo shoots, studio time, video making will cost something. It may not completely burst your budget, but you have to invest if you don’t have someone to invest in you. And there are popular street artists out there who could benefit a lot more than those wealthy born ones from a Pepsi deal. Pepsi could also benefit. Many artists are popular, but not visible in the media because they lack money. But any corporate  brand ambassadour deal could change that.

 

So if I ruled the world, or at least the music industry, I would make such deals more easily available to artists who need more exposure and economic help. It would be a step to make a fairer industry.

I’m a Nigerian/African export and proud of it!

A lot of people in Nigeria either ask, or imply that I must be big in my own country and get surprised when I say they have absolutely no clue who I am unless they’re especially interested in Afrobeat. That number in Norway is extremely small. Though the Fela tribute concert I went to in Bergen during the Felabrations indicated that if properly promoted, Afrobeat could actually get a fair following here. I noticed names of different bands being noted down on phones all around me to be looked up on Spotify, so maybe one day more than the 15 or so Afrobeat enthusiasts will know the name Lioness Oyinbo, my family and friends not counted.

 

I got discovered by Nigerians and was invited to Nigeria to develop my music. This couldn’t have happened in Norway and possibly not that easily in the UK, where I experienced that being a white Afrobeat artist was just that little bit awkward. So Nigeria was the only place I could really develop.

 

My reply to those people who ask if I’m big back home is that “I’m an African, Nigerian export” and I’m proud to say that I am. Now, I am accepted as the white Afrobeat singer everywhere, simply because I, musically speaking, come from Africa. My music is being played on all continents, but mainly on African outlets. I hope to be played on mainstream radio stations in Europe, America, Asia and Australia one day, but this is something many African artists alongside me are dreaming of. And if I were to choose between one or the other, I’d rather be on an African radio station playlist among the big names that I admire than be on a mainstream station playlist whilst the people of Africa are don’t want anything to do with my music.

 

So there you have it guys. As an artist, I’m one hundred per cent African and proud of it.

New Song: Love Me Jeje

Lioness (Feat. Chidinma) Love Me JejeOn my birthday which was two days ago, I finally released my track featuring Chidinma entitled Love Me Jeje.

Jeje is Pidgin English and means something like happily, fully, or something along those lines. The song has received really great critique and a lot of people who normally don’t like Afrobeat love this one.

I am grateful to have released my fourth single without the backing of a big label. And to have my song out there alongside big names in the industry. I have faith in this one.

The song can be purchased on iTunes
And it’s Also available on most streaming services like Spotify, Deezer, and GooglePlay and so on.

For my visually impaired readers the video is me and Chidinma performing the song while models are acting out the story. The story is about a couple who are going through hard times before things get better. I believe you die, says the girlfriend, which means I’ll trust you till the end. The video looks invissible to me even though I did include it on the post, so in case screenreader users wanna watch it, I added the link at the top.

I Admire: Empress Etana

Etana Richest Girl (Official Music video)There are many female artists I look up to in the industry. But if I have to choose one, it would easily be Etana.

 

Etana means The Strong One in Kiswahili and this is no doubt one strong inspirational woman. And I don’t use that word lightly. She was born Shauna McKenzie and she’s from August Town, Jamaica. She grew up in Florida and wanted to become a nurse, but she instead joined a female vocal group called Gift, signed to Universal, which she was part of for a few years.

 

But she didn’t like what the industry had presented to her and decided that if these were the terms of being a musician, she’d rather do something else. So she moved to Jamaica to start an internet café.

 

But as she was in the establishing phase of that business, she got word that the legendary Richie Spice was having auditions for new backup singers. She went along and not surprisingly, she got picked to back up for him on his Europe and North America tour.

 

While working with Richie Spice, she decided that she again wanted to do music, but on her own terms. Today she has released numerous singles and 4 fantastic albums. The strong one, Free Expressions, Better tomorrow and I Rise.

 

Why I find Etana so inspiring is not just because of her beautiful voice that never fails to move me. Her story is in a few ways similar to mine. At least in the fact that she wanted to give up music altogether and concentrate on something different. But she somehow got back into it. It goes to show that if you are created for the purpose of doing music, you will end up doing music, no matter what. Just look at Tina Turner who got big in her 60s.

 

But a more important reason why I love Etana so much is because her songs always speak to me on some level. And she is very diverse in her lyrics. She talks about everything from being unfaithful as a woman, to poverty, spirituality, injustice, Being a black woman, everyday life and true love. She has inspired me so much and will no doubt continue to do so.

 

It was hard to choose which of her many brilliant songs to share with you. But I chose richest girl from her 2014 album I Rise because the lyrics is a good reminder of what’s precious in life. You’ll know what I mean. Just sit back and listen.

Happy 2016!

I know I’ve been a bit of a stranger recently. I always have these incentives to blog regularly, but something always comes up.

Anyways, let me start by wishing you all a happy 2016. May this New Year be the year where your goals are reached and your dreams come to pass.

2015 was a great year for me. Though mostly the exciting stuff happened in the first 9 months of the year. After the NEA in September where I didn’t won my category, but still had a great time and learned a lot, and till new-years-eve, I was just in Norway working on the business side of my music career and my Forever Living business.

But at the start of this year, I went back to Nigeria again and being back was lovely. I’ve done what I think is my best project yet. A song featuring Chidinma, a very sought after female singer in the Nigerian music industry for those who’re not too familiar with afrobeat and produced by DJ Coublon, producer of the year. The video was shot by my team member and friend Hg2films. The song will soon be released and I just can’t wait to share it with you!

What I think made this project so good, was both the fact that I now have a lot more experience and better self-esteem and, in the case of the video, I had my own personal stylist, who is practically like my sister. She didn’t dress me up in anything until I understood what kind of look and style it was and she kept a very sharp eye on the make-up artists, so I got the look I wanted. And so I felt I looked better and had more control.

Having the right team around you is extremely important for everyone. But for me as a blind artist, it’s especially important because I need to have that extra level of trust. My opinions on how something looks only goes as far as what I can feel myself and that isn’t always enough in an industry where appearance is so important.

I am back in Norway now, dealing with the cold harsh winter. But though I’m known for hating snow and the cold, I’m feeling really positive right now. Spring isn’t that far away and with spring comes my birthday. And I’ll soon be travelling again for shows and promos.

I also need to work on my other business this year. And I need to focus on recruiting which I’m terrified of. But I believe in having many things going at the same time and if I want to succeed, I need to step out of my comfort zone. Easier said than done though. But I’m ready for the challenge. Hey, it’s nearly spring! The Lioness is rising!

What’s up With this auto-tune?

One thing that really frustrates me about African pop music is the auto-tune. That’s not just used in Africa, but since this is the industry I’m part of, it annoys me more in African music. Auto-tune isn’t necessarily always a bad thing and when used correctly it can create some nice effects. But the way some producers and sound engineers are slapping it on today, you do start to wonder whether a lot of artists are capable of singing at all.

I know I’m harsh. But nothing saddens me more than hearing a great banger of a beat accompanying voices that are so auto-tuned and stripped of personality that they sound like singing screen reading software for the blind. And especially if I like the artist and know they can sing. Why do they accept sounding like that?

I don’t know how many times I switch off songs half way through because the auto-tune is making my ears hurt and how many times I’ve been on YouTube looking for accappella and acoustic performances of A-listers to see whether they actually can sing.

I have always admired African singers for their strong powerful voices and I myself learned a lot of good singing techniques when I sang with a majority black choir.

I know I’m not alone in my opinion of auto-tune. Gramps Morgan of Morgan Heritage is saying that “Auto-tune is destroying black African artists”. And apparently Jay Z has said that it destroys creativity…

Everyone who’s making music is responsible for the good sound. Artists who cannot sing have no business in the industry for starters. And if someone can sing well, it’s the producers and sound engineers job to make them sound as organic as possible. Or is it a whole trend that needs to change?

I’m not sure. But I really pray auto-tune usage, as heavy as it is today, will turn into a non-trend. Let’s instead focus on vocal training for artists and get those beautiful organic voices out there!

Finding Fela

Well, I can’t really talk about Femi, without talking about Fela.

The Felabrations are in full swing, particularly in Nigeria. But other Fela fans around the world are also doing their bit to celebrate this very complex legend.

Apart from creating music that certainly transports me into another world, Fela Anikulapo Kuti was a political activist who got arrested pretty much every time he released a new single, because he criticised the government.

The current president Buhari, even through him in Jail back in the 80s when he was a dictator.

Despite tmarrying 28 wives (27 of them at the same time), he was also fighting for women’s rights and Funmilayo Kuti, his mother, was the first woman in Nigeria to drive a car.

In short. You think you get Fela, but then you don’t. that’s certainly how I feel. And though everything he did wasn’t wise, I admire that he always followed his heart and gave every cause he worked for his absolutely all.

His music has inspired and is still inspiring great artists such as Paul McCartny, Michael Jackson and Alicia Keys as well as Nigerian acts like Wizkid.

Fela is such a complex and interesting character that describing him is difficult. I don’t think there’ll ever be someone quite like him.

For the Felabrations here in Oslo, I went to a screening of Finding Fela, a lovely film everyone should watch. Whether you know fela or not.

‘RIP Fela. May your soul be united with your loved ones.

I admire: Femi Anikulapo Kuti

I know. It looks so easy. Recording in the studio, appearing in the media, performing on shows, getting nominated and winning awards and have lots of fans telling yu every day how much they adore you.

Yes. There is this side to being an artist. And nothing feels more fulfilling and rewarding than, when you do these things and they go well.

But to get there, you need to work hard and take chances. Many artists before me have experienced working with dodgy labels, being rejected over and over and puzzle over how on earth to get together money for a good promo for their new single. Many artists after me will experience the same things. I am going through these things.

Though you know you’re not the only one going through these things, you can often feel really alone and isolated when you do. And it’s easy to lose faith in yourself and start a negative cycle of thoughts.

When I feel particularly down related to my career, I cheer myself up by reading, or listening to success stories of artists who are doing well now.
And who I see as my role models. One such artist is Femi Kuti. He is the son of the legendary Fela Kuti. And in my opinion, a legend himself.

I Recently came across a very lovely interview with him on youtube. Don’t let the title fool you. This is deep, personal and to me it was super inspiring.

I may not agree with every single of his viewpoints, but I share many of them and it would be a dream come true to one day work with him.

Not many, if any women is doing this type of pure afrobeat. With my soon-to-be released single, I’m going to be doing a pop version of it. But how cool wouldn’t it be to perform at at the Fela Shrine with Femi and his band?

Music career update

Apart from writing ghost stories, I have been quite busy in the first half of 2015 and I realize I actually haven’t written anything about my actual life for a long time. I didn’t do a 2014 summary either, because my 2014, which had been a year of mostly highs, ended in a bit of a mess with my record label disolving. I was simply too tired to write about anything at all.

But things are looking a lot better now. I am part of a new record label Sweetlife and I’m enjoying being signed to them because I’ve never had this degree of artistic freedom. I am also much more part of the whole process when it comes to musical projects. I’m not just recording and doing videos, but I am getting hands on with a lot more stuff such as PR and other behind the scenes work.

Some of the highlights of my, still quite young music career, has been to work with two of my favourites in the Nigerian music industry, Selebobo and Emma Nyra.

I have also been nominated for the Nigerian Entertainment awards (NEA) for Diaspora artist of the year. And so in a couple of months, I’ll be going to the ceremony in New York City. A place I’ve always wanted to visit.

I’m grateful for all the support I’ve received on all continents. I’m grateful for all the haters too. As I always say, use your haters as your elevators. Having people who take time out to trash everything from my skin colour to my teeth is also giving me recognition.

If you have some money to spare, I have three available songs on iTunes.
Anything for love
African Beauty
Believe

You can also subscribe to my
Youtube channel