Publicist to the stars Anyiko Owoko dined with Africa’s leading lady in entertainment Yemi Alade right after her performance at Koroga Festival March edition, that thrilled an audience of 20,000 – the festival’s best yet! The Nigerian songstress reviews the concert as she reveals exclusively to Yummy details on her upcoming gospel album and European tour.
You would think that after her vigorous performance at Koroga, Yemi Alade would be sleeping or resting in the hours after the show. Wrong. Later that evening we meet at Tamarind Hotel’s restaurant at a cosy corner. No other guests around us. She’s very calm, cool and collected and has removed the tower-like hairdo she wore at the concert and is now tying a turban on her head.
Self-proclaimed Mama Africa, Yemi Alade thrives in her expression of Afrocentrism. In a witty yet pensive mood, she confides: “I am so blessed that Africa has embraced me and I have embraced Africa—Africa chose me.”
Accompanied by her acclaimed live band – Oversabi Band, her traditional male dancers and a backup vocalist, the team is in synchrony as they deliver on killer moves backed by big beats and incredible stage lighting. It’s a performance it is almost impossible not to want to make a point of describing her as an African Beyoncé.
“Having 20,000 people come see me at the festival makes me thank God that this is happening in my Africa!” she tells me after making her order. “It felt as if people had made up their minds to come have fun and entertain themselves alongside what I was going to offer. It’s like being in a relationship with someone and meeting for the first time – that’s how I felt to meet my fans. It was good vibes.”
In 2017 alone, Yemi released two albums: Mama Afrique EP and Black Magic album. She tells me that the plan by her label: Effyzzie Music Group was initially to release three albums in 2017. “I am still working on a gospel album,” she reveals, “and it will be showcasing my vocal range.” She is adamant there is a release date but teases cheekily that we should expect a drop anytime, seeing as she’s got enough songs for three more albums in the vault.
Yemi Alade and her Talent Manager: Taiye Aliyu from Effyzzie Music Group, are unstoppable firecrackers and will move stealthily to conquer the next available fan base, country by country. From April to May 2018, alongside Oversabi Band, Yemi Alade will for the first time embark on her biggest music tour that will cut across about 15 European countries. They are also planning tours across Canada and Australia later in the year. She says, “I think this is the highest venue list for any African artiste in Europe,” adding that, “We might be adding or reducing some of the dates so we don’t over stretch ourselves.” She states that no matter where she performs, she always feels at home. “At all of my headlining concerts across the globe, right from when you see people queuing up to enter the venue you see that they have African adornments, accessories and head wraps or something African—basically it’s like I am performing to an African crowd. They are always in tune like they got the memo. No matter where I go I feel like I am performing to an African crowd.”
In the next few years, Yemi promises to deliver constant hits. “That’s for sure,” she asserts, adding that she is also passionate about helping more communities living in slum areas. In Nigeria, she has been working with communities from
Makoko Slum, partly elevated on a lagoon. Yemi says, “My team and I work on getting them basic things to get them going like clothes, just so they can at least go to work.” Looking back at her childhood upbringing, Yemi Alade credits her work ethic to her parents who she says were hard workers. “They never wanted me and my siblings to see them hustling.” That, her unmatched work ethic and an amazing team, she says is her driving force. “I will not downplay that I am also very passionate about my career and how much of a good impact I want to leave in the world. Thank you to all those that see me as an inspiration.” Her brand, she concludes, is a result of choosing wisely and picking the things that work for her. “I am human and I also make mistakes, which I learn from.” A humbling statement from such a global star.