Exclusive Interview with Yemi Alade – ‘Vocalism Is My Greatest Strength’

Yemi Alade

There is a new voice in town! There is a face to complement that voice! And there is a name attached to this face. The name is Yemi Alade, new female singer with a sultry voice. In this interview, she spoke extensively about her life and the journey to her music pursuit.

You were relatively unknown before you emerged winner at the 2010 Peak Talent
Show; when did you begin music professionally? True! emerging the winner of Peak Talent Show Season 1 gave me the push I needed, it was a stepping stone for my career, although I used to be a member of a girl group called NOTY SPICES when I was in Secondary School.

 If you hadn’t won the competition in 2010, do you think you’d have still gotten the kind of recognition you’re receiving now?

Definitely! I believe participating in PTS was a destined course in my life as well as every other thing that has happened. Who I am today is beyond just PTS, it’s the result of trial and error. I believe the sky is my starting point.

How long did it take you to connect with the kind of audience at your disposal right now?

Hmm, I actually won the PTS in the fourth quarter of 2009, but released my debut single and video titled ‘Fimisle’ feat Eldee the Don in the third quarter of 2010. Since then I have seen myself on more stages than I dare to count, and several collaborations with upcoming and established artistes. It’s been roughly three years.

At what point did you resolve to pursue Music as a career?

I decided to pursue my musical career when I was in my final year of secondary school hand- in-hand with my band mates.

How would you describe your style of Music?
My style of music at the moment is Afro Pop R’n’B, not excluding other genres but that is my focus at the moment. Although the distinguishing factor in my music is the unavoidable ’Old

Yemi Alade with Producer OJB

Soul’ element in my style as I not only sound a lot older than I am, but a lot of people tend to compare my style of Music to that of some older, well established artistes in Africa and overseas.

Who are your musical influences?
My list is very long as I listen to a very wide range of artistes. From Aretha Franklyn, Etta James, Whitney Houston(RIP), Mariah Carey, Beyonce Knowles , Fela, Rihanna, Usher and Maxwell. My musical influences go deep, far and wide.

There must have been a time you had to combine School, Family and Music. Tell us
about your Family & Educational background, and how you paved your way through.
(Laughs) School, Family and Music have always been a constant in my life; combining them is a very demanding task. I must say it hasn’t been easy. I am the fifth child and last daughter of my parents’ seven kids, considering the fact that my Dad is a Retired Commissioner of Police and my mum; a disciplinarian. It’s very awkward that they have supported me right from the very beginning. My mum’s only rule is that no matter what I did, my grades had to be good. I guess I did my best .UNILAG is a tough school; I had my BSc in Geography, a blessed career, great parents. What else could I ask for? I am grateful.

If they (your parents) declined in support, would you have gone ahead with your music career?

(Exclaims)…e no go easy o. That’s a very daisy question because I have never really thought
that through, but in my family all the kids are raised to be very independent. I have a
feeling that I would work even more tirelessly to attain great heights in my career as well as
convince my parents. I never back out without a good fight.

I’m sure you must have been told a couple of times that you’ve got a sultry voice. Did you develop yourself to attain this or it just came naturally?

It’s a God given talent that I’m very grateful for, but even the best swords get dull when
they are not put to use. I drill my voice everyday. I have a personal vocal routine I developed
over the years, it has never really failed me and all I do is raise the bars.

Apart from the obvious, what makes you different/unique in the music Industry?

(Laughs excitedly) What is the obvious? My style is unique, my approach is different, and even you have said it in this question although in an indirect manner. The point is I’m different and peculiar.

Right now, do you consider yourself a prolific Song Writer?

Yes o! With God by my side, I have Songs like a River.

Why should anyone pay attention to your music?

Music is a universal language. I believe that when it comes to my music, one listens and is hooked. I represent a lot of people other than myself through my music, from the market woman to the average Nigerian/African, students, children, and guy’s e.t.c.

Song Writing, Vocalism and Performance (on and off stage) are factors that shape one’s artistic value in the music industry. Which do you consider your greatest strength?

Hmm! Indeed those 3 factors make a great artiste, but I’ll go with My Vocals.

Female artistes tend to compete with each other, especially in this male dominated industry; have you ever been involved in such? Or have you heard of any tension between you and anyone at all?

None at all, I pay no attention to gossip my dear.

You were once signed to Bayo Omisore’s label, what made you leave to join Effyzzie Entertainment?

Yes, that’s very true. I worked with Bayo Omisore for about 2 years, even though there was no contract between us. I started as an artist under Jus’ Kidding management and the rest is history. I just felt like I needed to define myself, I prayed to God endlessly for a new team. Numerous Labels made offers and after about 6 months of freelance, Effyzzie came and got me.

So what has changed for you since you left Just Kiddin’ for Effyzzie Entertainment?

It’s like changing your place of work, new co-workers, new energy, new results, new everything. I am grateful.

I also know for a fact that you recorded a song with M.I; you were also initially listed as a guest artiste on Illegal Music 2, so why didn’t you make the project?

M.I made last minutes corrections to Illegal music 2, he decided to make the song we did together an album material instead of the mixtape.

What’s the difference between the times you spent at both camps?

I had good times with Jus’ Kidding. I am genuinely happy with Effyzzie, their mindset and mine are very alike, we plan together, we believe in one God, good music, I could go on and on but Effyzzie is the team to be with.

Greatest challenge ever faced while coming up?

My music is always a challenge for me because it always has to be ‘hit material’, always.

Greatest sacrifice ever made in this Music pursuit?

Every single day I have to sacrifice family time and personal time.

At what point would you consider yourself an accomplished artiste?

Accomplished is a big word. For me, the point where I can proudly say I want to retire from
the music scene is the point where I can say I am accomplished.

Do you play any musical instrument? If no, which do you wish you knew how to?

No I don’t, but would love to learn how to play the keyboard.

Favourite song ever written?

That will be “Uche Face” by Yemi Alade ft LOS

Favourite song ever performed either as a guest/host?

Ghen Ghen Love by Yemi Alade.

Songs you wish you wrote?

Whitney Houston – I will always Love

Most awkward music collaboration of yourself you’ve ever dreamt of is with?
(Laughs) Yemi Alade and Vic O.

The reception/recognition you’re receiving right now is quite impressive. Has it changed your lifestyle in any way?

My lifestyle; well if there is one change I have embraced, it’s the “hustler’s lifestyle”
multiplied by two.

Are you under any form of pressure to deliver right now?

Asides the pressure from my fans, I deliberately put pressure on myself to deliver at all times.

Have you ever been pressurised to produce music materials that you don’t like/ doesn’t come from the heart?

Oh yes! Sometimes my Boss listens to a particular production and believes we can make good music from it, even when I might not really be feeling it, I comply because I know he has good ears for music and experience. All the same I have no choice but to learn to love the song as much. It’s the only way I can make records.

The Nigerian music audience could be frustrating when it comes to the reception of one’s art, so how do you handle criticism from fans & Colleagues?

Yes o! Our audience dey carry Gold trophy in that category. So I do 3 things before a stage performance: I pray, I reach out to those that respond to good music and then I carry the others along one way or the other. The Nigerian audience can be really refreshing when they let go of themselves.

Most difficult form of criticism ever received with respect to your music; and how did you respond?

There was a time someone listened to a song I was featured on and said that “Yemi Alade” sings too much. When I heard this, considering the fact that I tried not to “show off” vocally but keep it as “pop” as possible on such an R’n’B track, I came to the conclusion that critics will always be critics. I decided to sing as my heart tells me. Today that song receives
massive airplay.

What would make you give up on music completely?

“Give Up”? I choose not to imagine myself in such a situation. Like really, why should I?

If you ever quit music, what would be the most likely venture you’d pursue?

Well, I’ve always wanted to own a big Kitchen but if I were to use my BSc degree, I would have been a career lady.

Why should anyone look forward to your Debut album?

I believe it would be one of the most talked about albums. You don’t want to miss out on that action, do you?

Are there any rumours about yourself you’ve heard but aren’t true?

Rumours? Who cares about such things these days? Well, definitely not ?me.

Are there any rumours about yourself you’ve heard, but you wish were true?

Not that I know of.

Would you like to tell us something/anything, you believe we don’t know about you?

I’m scared of you guys, because you know everything. Well, I guess you don’t know that despite the fact that I have performed at over 400 shows and I seem to always put up a steamy energetic show on stage, I am very shy off stage and incredibly tensed before every show.

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