Following the success of her singles Make Me Dance, Rock My Body, Africa and the World Cup anthem Go Go Black Stars..Goal!, Wiyaala released her self-titled album online: Wiyaala on November 24. We believe that Wiyaala, who is frequently compared to Angelique Kidjo and Grace Jones, is yet to push Ghana forward in the International music scene. Her endorsements with Converse, Pepsi and Printex are pushing her forward as an iconic superstar also. Last month was a special moment for her, in which she won an All Africa Music Award for Most promising Artist in Africa and we were very honoured to chat with Wiyaala.
Wiyaala, from the Upper West of Ghana, is a personification of modern Africa: creative, brave, strong and beautiful. Her name literally translates to “the doer” in Sissala, her tribal language, and perfectly describes her approach to life. Wiyaala’s music is truly Afro Pop: fusing her African roots with contemporary world Pop music.
The album, sung in a mix of English and local tribal dialects of Sissali and Wale is an update on the “clash of civilizations” between the cultural traditions, social order and practices of West Africa and the impact of the “West”. Wiyaala does not seek confrontation in her lyrics, but she carries a positive message. In the songs Siiko, Bunsun and Sun & Moon, Wiyaala gently chides, that in the haste to acquire the benefits of the digital life, her people should not forget their roots: ‘Come, let’s go back! Embrace the things we left behind, and add them to what we have now.’ She sings.
ABINA: Where did music begin for you?
Wiyaala: “I think I was born that way. In the village I started entertaining my family and friends from earliest childhood. My mother tells the story of how as a five year old, I started singing and dancing in a pitou bar in Tamale to entertain the patrons who then gave me money for it. So even at that age, I realised it was something that I could do. I never stopped entertaining and dreaming of how I could be like Madonna or Michael Jackson.”
ABINA: What inspires you when writing your music?
Wiyaala: “My latest album “Wiyaala” is my art and Africa is at the heart of it. It’s about proud young Africans like me. Where we are from, who we are and how we would like to experience the world around us. We love our “African-ness”, but we also want to embrace and take our place as equal citizens in the modern world. When I sing in my tribal languages, Sissali and Wale, you are hearing a vocal sound from the Upper West of Ghana, which is how I want to tell my stories as a young African. But at the same time the music is influenced by contemporary western pop styles which make it “Afro-Pop”.”
ABINA: How did the collaboration with Converse come about?
Wiyaala: “I was contacted on Facebook by the owner of Shoebox Ghana who is an accredited Converse supplier in Ghana. She said she liked my style and energy and that I would be a good fit with the brand. We did a photo shoot at the store and she signed me up!”
ABINA: Which artists would you like to collaborate with in the future?
Wiyaala: “I actually like doing my own thing. Sometimes I feel that collaborations are contrived by managers for their artists to “piggy-back” on another. I call these ‘musical marriages of convenience!’ But seriously, I would love to get on stage with Angelique Kidjoe. We would do some serious energy together!”
ABINA: Can you describe your fashion style in three words?
Wiyaala: “Hot African Eclectic”
ABINA: Who and what inspired the cover of your album?
Wiyaala: “I’m also known as “The Young Lioness of Africa”. I think that says it all!”
Below is the video of Wiyaala’s single called Africa.