Guest post originally published on http://blog.plug.dj/2013/12/meet-wiyaala-the-young-lioness-of-africa/
Meet Wiyaala, a talented and passionate Afro-pop artist from Ghana. BA Latanya got a chance to interview her, and learn more about fierce songstress. If you’d like a chance to chat with Wiyaala be sure and drop by the Make Me Dance Listening Party for her new remix EP, exclusively on Plug.dj!
Who is Wiyaala and how would you describe your music?
Wiyaala in my own tribal language means I am “the doer”. I’m a Sissala from the Upper West of Ghana, West Africa. I grew up in a small village called Funsi. I’m also known as “the young lioness of Africa”. That name was given to me by my manager. Why? Well, I think it’s because I roam around roaring a lot!
I do mainly Afro-Pop music, but there are elements of my tribal folk music and western rock music also in what I do. As I was a child, in the village not many people had TVs and we used to look through their windows to watch. I saw Madonna and Michael Jackson and I was fascinated by them. I would go home and put on my own shows for my family and friends imitating them. I think they influenced me a lot in the music, I’m making today.
You are the first artist I have ever listened to that is from Africa, but I am sure there are many other talented musicians. Can you name a few?
Wow! There are so many talented musicians of all kinds in Africa, let me mention some of the notable ladies… Angelique Kidjo, Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Miriam Makeba and Brenda Fassie. They are all on YouTube.
The biography on your website says that you are known to stand up for women’s right, how do you incorporate that in your music?
I have this warrior song called Tinambayai which will be on my album. I sing it in Sissali. Basically it says “Hey you! We are just preparing and already you are running for your lives!”. Although this song is not specifically about women’s rights, it does represent my attitude to the exploitation of women in Africa. Even In the next 10-20 years, I think women will redress the balance and become more influential. It’s already happening in the Ghanaian movie industry, but the music industry here is dominated by men. I hope that I will be part of changing that perception.
What do you like to do for fun?
I like being around young kids, going to a park where there are trampolines, see-saws, swings and we all just laugh and play together.
What can we expect from you in the near future?
I have a song called “You Got the Power” coming out soon. It’s Afro-Pop and I sing it in three local languages, Waali, Sissali and Ga as well as English. The song says, no matter the difficulties in our lives, the power rests with each of us to change it. It is a song about personal responsibility. I’m hoping to get my full album finished by March 2014. That album should be really interesting because it fuses western style music with traditional African village life.
I read that your mother is your inspiration and taught you how to sing, do you ever ask for her advice when making a song?
I talk to my mother everyday. She has always believed in me. And yes, I have definitely been influenced by the stories she used to tell us as children. Some of those stories are now in my songs like Arijanah. But, now I’m grown she says that she will leave the music to me and just enjoy listening.
What is your thought process when making music? How do you go about it? Any routines or just whatever feels right?
I don’t force it. An idea usually comes to me when I am in a good mood and seeing the positive side of life. That is good because I won’t always be complaining!
In the future you said you want to work on an album that mixes your tribal songs and western influences and those songs will contain messages from Upper West of Ghana which reflect the Sissala outlook on life. Can you go into a little more detail about the Sissala outlook on life?
They see life as it is. My song Tuma says there is no food for the lazy man. That’s how it is.
What role does Ghana or Africa as whole play into your music?
All musicians around the world are a reflection of where they come from. But we all come into contact with different people and cultures even through TV and the internet. This influences what we already have. So, whilst I will always be Ghanaian, how could I ever ignore Rihanna, Beyonce or other major international stars? Sometimes I hear that musicians will just stick to what they know. Do they live in a bubble?