ABINA is always on the lookout for new African artists who make GOOD music. By ‘good’ we mean, a good sound, look and feel. Recently we ran into a young artist who caught our attention with her down cut hair and trendy African fashion and not to forget, a bad ass sound. RoseMary Oluwabukola Oluwaseun Olawale Fiki a.k.a Rosemary Fiki is a singer, songwriter and originally comes from Nigeria (the name says it) and she is based in Philadelphia, USA. She just launched her EP on the 8th of August called The Rosemary Fiki EP.
A point of admiration is that Rosemary has managed to push forth her EP as an independent artist and she is bringing out a sound that is a combination of both cultures she grew up with. That is Nigerian and American cultures. We love how she delivers a combination of both and we took a bit of her time for an interview.
Music and career
ABINA: When did singing come about?
“I’ve been singing since around the age of 8. My family and I had just moved to the Poconos from Newark, New Jersey and I was the new kid on the block. I was a terrifyingly shy kid. In the 4th grade, while I was trying to fit I, I started singing along with song in a silly way and my classmate Jenny said, “Wow RoseMary you have a really good voice, sing some more.” From that point on, I’ve been singing ever since.” Singing was always like my imaginary friend that made me feel invincible because I was such a sheltered kid growing up in a Nigerian household”
“I have a wonderful team at FitzHitz Music Group. We’ve been working collectively for the last 5 years to push out our visions and create quality artistic offerings to share with the world. There’s something to be said about surrounding yourself with talented, driven and like-minded individuals who just want to produce and create great work. Honestly, without my team, I’d have a totally different journey.”
“As far as professional development, I’ve recently become a huge fan of getting my hands on as much information as I can. I really love absorbing new info about the industry. Staying abreast of what’s going on in this industry is a true necessity for the do-it-yourself artist.”
ABINA: Do you have any other career moves that you are planning to make than music?
“I’d definitely say that I have entrepreneurial goals and personal goals. At FitzHitz, we have our sights set on breaking into film, media and literature. In addition to our company goals, I personally would love to get into acting, modeling, and who knows what else- the sky’s the limit!”
Roots and music
ABINA: How was growing up like in the states with the American culture en Nigerian culture?
“I now have a deep respect and appreciation for my culture but it was definitely hard growing up in the States with both cultures. In school they would serve hotdogs and pizzas for lunch and at home we’d eat pounded yam and egusi. That makes it different. As a kid growing up, I just wanted to be as “normal” as possible. Now in hindsight, I feel blessed to have had the marriage of both cultures because I feel that it has translated over to my music and life in general.”
ABINA: How had Nigerian music influence your music?
“Nigerian music has played a huge influence in my life. When I think of Nigerian music, I think of pulsating driving rhythms, drums, horns, and real live instruments. Throughout the gritty, soulful, pop-rock of The Rosemary Fiki EP, you’ll find moments where my Nigerian roots shine through. I started taking Djembe lessons about two years ago and I really want to start incorporating the Djembe into my live shows and also in my records. The Nigerian culture will ALWAYS be a part of me because it’s in my blood. Naturally, I was driven to incorporate Yoruba into my music and that’s why my EP ends with the song: “Kosekun Kosewu” written by African artist extraordinaire KUKU.”
ABINA: How did the collaboration with Kuku come about?
“The collaboration with KUKU came about when I met him roughly 4 years ago at a show that I was attending to support my friend. He was a part of the music line-up and I fell in love with his songs, voice and body of work. I always made a mental note that I would work with him in the future. It just so happened that a year later, another event gave us the opportunity to exchange contacts. My album was almost finished, but it was missing something. One of my partners suggested that I reach out to KUKU to complete the missing piece of the puzzle. It almost didn’t happen. He was packing up and moving to Europe and wasn’t sure if he’d even have the time. Thankfully the stars were aligned and he said yes.”
ABINA: What do you think about how African music is developing these last 5 years?
“I’m so proud of how African music has developed. Growing up in America, I could never say to my friends that I listened to “Ere Bere” by King Sunny Ade. That just wasn’t cool and it was another reason for kids to pick on me. Thankfully, with the popularity of the Broadway extravaganza FELA! directed by Bill T. Jones, the politics, music, and culture of Africa and specifically Nigeria has become a worldwide phenomenon and is on everyone’s radar. Timing is everything and it seems that there’s room for African music to breathe life into genres like Afro-beat for example. You can also hear this influence on Nigerian rap star, Ice Prince’s hits: ‘Oleku’ and ‘Superstar’ and I just feel like this wave is only going to get bigger.”
A very own style
ABINA: How did you come about your style?
“I have a wonderful stylist Bétrice Émile who bridges my African roots mixed with edgy couture and designs outfits that combine these two elements together.”
ABINA: I noticed that you have a short Afro. How did this look come about for you?
“Since high school I’ve been rocking braids, weaves, and twists. That definitely took a toll on my hair. It started to fall out, and I had no choice but to start fresh and cut it all off. My stylist- Bétrice Émile came up with the idea to go natural and put a fly color in it. She took me to Artistic Hair Salon in Philadelphia where she and my hair stylist Renee Harper conceptualized the look that I’m rocking now.”
ABINA: Who are your main inspirations in terms of your fashion and style?
“In terms of style, my main inspirations are Grace Jones, Naomi Campbell, and Alek Wek.” And Fashion designers Duro Olowu from Nigeria and Maya Amina Lake from Brooklyn, New York and not to forget my Mum. She was a fashionista back in her day. I still sometimes go in my Mum’s closet to try and squeeze into her vintage dresses from the 70’s. I love that stuff!”
ABINA: Thank you
Rosemary Fiki’s EP can be listened to on her website. Her site pointed a view genres of her music, but we are leaving it up for your imagination and you to fill in. Listen to her playlist.
Visit her website