‘Working With One Campaign Is Highpoint Of My Career’



Fans and lovers of soul music got more than they bargained last Sunday, as singer Aituabe Iruobe otherwise known as Waje in the showbiz circle, treated them to the best of her recordings. Dubbed Waje Live… The Tale of An African Soul, the live session, which lasted till late evening, was staged at the popular Bogobiri House, Ikoyi, Lagos. For guests, it was an opportunity to watch the powerful vocalist perform at close range, while for the artiste, it was a platform to appreciate her fans, including showbiz reporters, who played a vital role in her emergence as one of the leading female singer in the country. Waje, who came to limelight in 2008, after featuring as the female voice in P-Square’s hit Do Me, remains one singer whose vocal range covers three octaves. In this chat with CHUKS NWANNE after the private concert, the mother of one spoke on her journey into the world of music, challenges in the industry, her involvement in One Campaign and other issues. 

What’s the essence of this concert? Well, this is an opportunity for me to say ‘thank you’ to all my fans, who have been very supportive. We just thought that we should organise a special session for my fans and the media to see my performance; it’s just a way of appreciating you people for all the support.

From your recordings and particularly your performance this night, it appears you don’t want to be boxed into one genre as an artiste? I think it is because it comes naturally. Sometimes, I even try to box myself because I feel it is a blessing and a curse in a way when you are a bit versatile.

What happens is that, sometimes, people ask questions like, ‘what exactly is the sound?’ So, I try my best to box my music, but I just think that it comes naturally for me to fuse my sound; I just let the music flow as it comes. You featured in P-Squares Do Me track, but eventually, a different lady was used for the video.

As an upcoming artiste then, it would have been an opportunity for you to launch your music career, how did you feel at that time? It was a feeling of defeat; I felt bad.

The idea of having collaborations or featuring in someone’s music is for both artistes to leverage on each other. But in this case, I didn’t gain anything, though I was glad that people eventually discovered I was the female voice on that track. To be honest, it wasn’t the fault of P-Square; they actually wrote to my then record label about their plans to shoot a video for the song. Apparently, my label didn’t see the need to be part of it.

All the same, we thank God for today. After 10 years with the record label, how come no album came out of that relationship? Actually, I got signed on the record label when I was very young; I was 18 then. The owner was a family friend, so, I did not bother to read through or look at the nature of the deal I was going into.

Sometimes, people do have good intention but in life, time and chance happens to everybody. I did not understand the culture of going out there and getting things done myself.

But the good thing is that I did not see off the contract. What happened? We ended amicably when I decided to go and pursue my dreams. At the time when I left the label, I released For A Minute; I did the song myself and at the same time shot the video. So, that was what happened.

It was just a question of me not going out there to get things done for myself; I was waiting to be spoon-fed, not knowing that it is the other way. You have to go out there and hustle for yourself and not waiting for people to do it for you. How did you manage to cope without a record label? Like every other industry, I had to find my feet in many ways.

I didn’t know my left or right in the industry then, so, I had to learn a lot of things along the line; I’m sure that’s the experience of most people in the industry.

I had to learn how to look for the right people to promote my songs and also learn how to look for the right producers to do my songs.

For me, it was all about, ‘let’s go there and sing.’ Basically, it has all been me learning with affiliation of all the people I have been meeting in the line of making music. In making music, do you consider what your fans want?

One thing I have which I thank God for, is my team; I do not keep it all to myself because, you cannot know it all. So, when I finish any song, I first play it to my team to sample opinion.

I’m a strong believer in my talent; I strongly believe that for every single move you make, there is a sound for that. For me, African music as much as it is danceable, still has a soul, regardless of how danceable it is.

That’s why you could still get a soul out of Fela. I feel that my music is all about me being able to cut across to the people I can be able to cater for. But the thing is that there are certain messages you would want to convey to your audience. Even as you are writing the song, there is a genre that influences the song.

For instance, I wrote a song recently about my daughter that I will be dropping in my next album.

The song has 6-8 beat and I have never done a song like that before. But when I was thinking about my daughter, the sound came to my mind. I recorded it on my phone sent it to my producer; he did the beat and sent it back to me.

How has it been working on the One Campaign project, what really attracted you to join the team? It has been amazing. Right now, it’s the highpoint of my career.

I will say that because sometimes, you draw a plan of where you want to find yourself as a brand; I just do not want to be known just as a musician.

I’m very passionate about women because I have a daughter, who just finished her secondary education and about to enter the university.

So, if I’m doing music, I must be able to have a piece of mind that I have done things that can change my environment. When ONE Campaign called me to join them, I just felt it would be good for me as a human being and also for my career.

I just got back from South Africa and we performed at the World Economic Forum. If I were told 10 years ago that I would perform in such place, I would have told the person, ‘back to sender.’

Sometimes, the blessing do not just come in the number of cars or houses that you have, but God just positions you in places were you know that eventually, you will do something. Like Miriam Makeba, Brenda Fassie… these were women that sat with the policy makers and that is the place I will like to find myself.

How much has that influenced you personality and career? It has actually changed a lot of thing about me because, I’m thinking that, if I want to follow that path, there are certain things I cannot take for granted. I cannot live life selfishly; I now know that I’m an ambassador and there are people that are looking up to me.

If I’m going to join this campaign because Waje is there, I am probably a Waje follower. If I do not act in the proper way, I will probably lead someone into doing something they are not supposed to do.

The project has other talented singers from different African countries, how was your experience working with them? It was great because most of the ladies there, I never heard of them before.

However, I did my research and found out that some of them are actually big brands in their countries. At the end of the day, we cannot be carrying flags to say we are Africans when we don’t know each other well. I felt that it was very good for me; it forced me to go and look for their songs and to understand who truly they are.

I took the first line and Cohbams did the whole arrangement of the song. How do you think the ONE campaign will affect Nigeria? For me, one of the significant things about the campaign is that we say poverty has a female face.

And when I say poverty has a female face, I say it is because in rural areas, most of the people that are greatly affected by poverty are the women. Take for instance, agriculture; I don’t know about the statistics, but I think 60% of the farmers we have are women.

But the truth is that they cannot increase in the business because lands are not allocated to them and things like that. I was watching BBC when I saw an Egyptian woman, I think she should be in her middle 50’s, she had lost her husband long time ago. And for her to work and take care of her children, she has to dress like a man because they will not let her work as a woman.

The thing is that with regards to our country like I said earlier, it is not about feminism; instead it is about people saying that there are policies in place to protect women and we do not want those policies to be third hand. We want it to be a matter that is central as well.

Like 27% of female child in sub-Sahara only finish primary school. At the end of the day, you find out that all of us have women in our lives and we see the value they have created in our lives.

How was it like being a single mother all these years? It had its challenges to be honest, but I guess what has made it easy all these years for me, is my family.

My mother is an Igbo woman; when my daughter was born, I had to go back to school and my mother took care of her. I also have brothers who are close to me and are married so most times she visits them. I think my family helped me a lot. My mother is my gold, my diamond and everything. She made bringing up my daughter easier for me.

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