"Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness." ~Maya Angelou
Who is a singer without a voice? Zilch, right? And how does one grow from losing her voice for two full years to singing 3 octaves? Join me as I catch up with Nigerian singer & Songwriter, Waje, to answer these questions because she actually experienced the two scenarios I earlier cited, and she bounced back from those setbacks to become one of the hottest voices on the African Continent; with continental and International awards and nominations to her name.
Waje studied Social works in the university of Nigeria Nsukka, and she combines that passion with her music to see how she can use the sound of her voice to right the wrongs of the society she finds herself.
Ebenezar: Thank you for having this conversation with me, Waje.
Waje: The pleasure is mine.
Ebenezar: One distinct thing about you, which has become part of your image, is the fact that you have an uncanny ability to hit very high notes; notes many singers can only dream of. How were you able to develop such an ability?
Waje: From when the passion for music kicked in I started training my voice. I studied and observed a lot of vital features of strong notes and how to nail them. I also sang in the choir, in church and a major part of my vocal training was from there. So this kept going, and honestly the training never stops. In as much as it started long ago the practice to keep it 'on point' is never meant to cease.
Ebenezar: If you don't mind, can you give us a sketch of what your regular rehearsal is like? Sorry I'm asking you to share your secret with the world ☺
Waje: (hahah) Don’t worry I won’t divulge any clandestine info just yet, but what I can tell you is that my rehearsals can last for hours on end. We can be in the studio jamming, no matter how tired, until perfection is attained. Everything must sync, my vocals, the live instruments, everything must be in perfect accord with one another or none of us is leaving that place.
Ebenezar: Wow, that's a lot of work I must say, you know, sometime ago I saw a documentary about your career and in it you said, there was a period in your life you lost your voice for about 2 years or so...but thanks to God's awesome miracle you got it back. Do you often look back at that experience as a turning point in your career?
Waje: I look at it like….whew…that was a close one, and then as one of the things to thank God for. The fact that I got through that is one of those things that make you know God has your back. And then it starts this sort of fire within you, to never cease to put in work because, an experience like that could have had dreadful consequences, but it never got to that, so with my voice still intact, the thought of almost losing it totally at some point makes me hold my resolve to keep using my voice to the max……because I am blessed to still have it.
Ebenezar: Talking about being grateful to God, you once said, when you were still very young, Late Papa Idahosa was so impressed with your singing that he gave you a scholarship all through your secondary education. I was just thinking, if such a man of God could spot that gift in you, and we just talked about the miracle of God in regaining your voice, plus you grew up singing in fellowships and church programmes. How come you're not singing Gospel?
Waje: In the end we all choose the paths that define us best. If I was doing Gospel, then it would be because I am defined within me as a Gospel artist, and not because of my background. So I think there are other factors that influence a singer’s sound and genre, other than background.
Ebenezar: Okay, just the way Papa Idahosa helped you when you were young, you are also giving back to Youths in your community through various projects. Can you tell us more about your social work?
Waje: My NGO is called Safehouse, and it aids charitable causes in achieving their objectives of developing society and providing for the less privileged. We have worked with kids in rural areas of Lagos, creating better schooling environments for them than what they already had to contend with.
Ebenezar: Wow, well done, that's really laudable. Before you got to this stage in your career, you payed your dues well, that is, you invested in the development of your talent, sang for free at many events, and the likes. What's your advice for youths of this fast- selfie-social media generation who want everything fast; fast money, fast cars.
Waje: (Laughs) The selfie-social media generation needs to understand that hard-work, determination and God's will are only ever going to be the way. The paying of dues is inevitable so they need to brace themselves for coping with the challenges of that phase, and knowing that if they are putting in the right work, then that’s all it will ever be, a phase that will pass when success comes. And they need to believe in themselves, because in the world today, if you don’t believe in you, no one else will. When you believe you can do it, then you are halfway there. The fast cars will however come eventually, so please be patient.
Ebenezar: (hahah) I'm sure they heard you, So June 21st is World Music Day and the Nigerian Music Industry has grown to prominence in the world of Music. But as someone in the industry, are there some challenges artistes in the Nigerian music industry are facing? And how can we conquer these challenges?
Waje: Yes there are challenges. Some artists are still struggling to have their music accepted by the mainstream majority. Some artists do genres that don’t particularly have strong markets. The solution, I think, could be diversifying and encouraging the varieties of talents. Those in power to push certain kinds of music can bravely take it up and serve it determinedly to Nigerians and they may open up to newer sounds that they may find enjoyable. Then again there should be a zero tolerance for mediocrity.
|Waje at the headies|
Ebenezar: Okay, so far you've gotten so much national, continental, and even international recognition for your work, in form of awards and nominations. What is that Zenith you wish to attain? What is your ultimate goal in music?
Waje: I’m pretty sure my ultimate goal is to keep conquering all my immediate goals until I depart this planet. So I guess it is to keep going higher and doing what I’m doing till my sign out from the world.
Ebenezar: That's great, finally, you released your debut album last year titled W.A.J.E (Words aren't just enough). Are you working on anything new presently in form of collaborations or singles?
Waje: Oh there’s plenty in the works, which despite any persuasions you may attempt I will not divulge now. So just keep your fingers crossed and prepare for some excellent material coming soon.
Ebenezar: Waje, thank you so much for sharing your story on The Stroll.
Waje: You're welcome Ebenezar.
For more about Waje(@OfficialWaje), and to keep up with her new music and tours, visit Wajemusik.com
Waje's story is a reminder to all those who might be feeling overwhelmed by challenges they are facing right now, there is always a way, remain inspired and keep pushing. If someone can go from losing her voice to singing 3 octaves, then you can do it. (No cliche intended) it's in you! ☺
Our hearts go out to Kefee's family and friends at a time like this, It's such a painful loss, but we can't question God. May He grant the family the fortitude to bear the loss.
Till my next stroll, be good. Jesus Loves you.
"Make Music for him on harps, play beautiful melodies. Sound the trumpets and horns, and celebrate the joyful songs of our Lord and king." (Psalm 98v5-6, CEV)