One on one with Nigerian pop star Yemi Alade
In Woman of Steel, we see a more outspoken and confident Yemi enjoying a certain freedom in expressing her thoughts and feelings. Is it so?
Sis, you are right. I have certainly grown mentally, creatively, personally and even physically. I am gradually becoming the artiste that I wanted to be and I have always strived to ensure that my albums, or rather, music reflect that.
So, yeah; I’m being more outspoken about various issues that we face as a continent, such as bad governance and also touching on my personal experiences. I’m more detailed and see more of myself in it.
What are your expectations on the album’s performance across the continent and beyond?
As it is, the album is up for a Grammy consideration and I do hope that it clicks. And in terms of reception of the songs around Africa and the world, we have been able to do album release parties in Paris, London, Lagos and now in Nairobi. We certainly hope that this will take us further. And when I say we, I mean my team and I.
You have a massive following in Kenya and you could have easily decided to only bank on that without coming all the way, but here you are. Why was it so important for you to do this in Nairobi?
Nairobi is like one of my second homes and I always believe in going to where the love is. There is a lot of love here for me. And I just came to thank my Kenyan fans. The album is already out and I could have decided not to do this, but I needed to say thank you. It’s like how a child would bring their first salary to their parents. I needed to do that. This part of Africa has been one of the pillars of my growth as a musician.
One of the enviable features in the album is the internationally acclaimed Beninese musician and activist Angelique Kidjo on Shekere. It must have been quite an experience to share the space with her.
It is like I am on a track with my mother. Angelique is everything. She is a darling. She is an icon because she is a hard-worker and such an inspiration. Being on Shekere with her is such an honour and privilege. It took me three years to get this song done because I wanted to take time to get to know her first. And when time was right, the collaboration happened and it was absolutely magical.
Would you say you had the same experience working with Beyonce on Don’t Jealous Me and Power on her A Love Letter to Africa compilation album?
Oh certainly! Beyonce is also so gracious and kind. There are so many things that we are currently working on and we can’t wait to share more. I am so grateful for the opportunity to have met her and work with her. She is definitely one of my icons as well and an inspiration for so many people. She is doing a great job right now by paying homage to our continent, Africa.
Now that we have seen your short film Home, should we expect more of you in film?
I think I would like to have a part two of this film. A lot of people have been asking for more of it and it’s something my fans should look forward to. They will be seeing more of me in film, even in Hollywood.
So, what is next on the agenda for Yemi Alade?
At the moment, I will be releasing new music videos every month for the songs in the Woman of Steel album. I have already done that for Home and Give Dem and I think the next one might be Vibe. Keep an eye out for more.