Rose May Alaba romances African rhythms, sounds
A bright Thursday afternoon. Rose May Alaba opens the door to welcome guests to the official unveiling of her new single to the Nigerian market. She is dressed in a white tracksuit bottoms and sneakers that offer generous glimpses of her beauty and innocence. The pop star is feeling the heat outside, because she is not used to being in hot weather. This is her second visit home. The first time was when she came with her more popular brother, David, who plays for Bayern Munchen of Germany. Then, she was 10 and he was 12.
You’ll be wrong to think that she is an appendage of her big brother David Olatukunbo Alaba. She is more than just a family member of the famous defender.The 23-year-old lady pop singer is already making waves in Austria. She has proved her talent at the Austria Music Awards and the icing on the cake was when she wrote and performed the theme song of the 2017 Special Olympic World Winter Games.
“That was an amazing experience I will never forget,” says Rose May.The song, titled, Can You Feel it, is one of the four singles she has to her credit. The song topped the Austrian music chart for many weeks. Her first two singles — All of This is You and Love me Right — came in 2016, while Take Your Time is her latest. The song came in 2017.
Rose May’s Love Me Right also hit number one on the Austrian i-Tunes Singles Chart. She released the single on her own label ‘Rose May Music’, but distributes her music through Feiyr.The first time she went to the studio, she was very nervous. “I didn’t know what to do,” she laughs. “That time, I was very insecure about the work I have done. I really learnt from it.”
Now, the singer is proud of what she has done so far — especially her singles and major performances. But she aims by far higher than she has done in her career.From Love Me Right to Can You Feel it and Take Your Time, her songs have enjoyed rave reviews because of their freshness: Cool synthesisers, as well as electronic rhythms. tHEY are happy pop tunes with a great quality and modern arrangement — The songs
Talking about the successes recorded with Love Me Right, Jürgen Vonbank, Label Manager at Feiyr, said, “we look forward to further successful cooperation.” Vonbank is not surprised that the single is so popular, he said, “Rose May boasts a strong social media presence, and this is a key success factor in music marketing. With Feiyr, she found a reliable distribution partner.”
The talented and goal-driven artiste started studying music when she was four and has always written and composed most of her songs by herself. This wouldn’t have been if not for her parents, who, from the moment they discovered her potential, began to encourage her.“They are my source of inspiration,” she chuckles.
By age six and seven, she had begun to show her singing potential, which the family spotted. By eight, the father enrolled her in a piano school and this has helped her a lot. She also took advantage of YouTube to train herself in other areas of music.“I have been doing music all my life,” she says. “By age 13, I began to write my own songs. But it was three years ago that I started music professionally.”
Her Ogere Remo, Ogun State-born father, George, who accompanied her on this trip, had been a DJ and a recording artiste. He was a rapper with ‘Two in One’, a pop-duo. He used to work at Lagos-based Tabansi Records, where he met the big hits of that era such as, Kris Okotie, Felix Liberty, Jide Obi and the fast rising Majek Fashek, who went by the stage name Rajesh Kanal. Majek was a member of the famous reggae group, Jastix, with McRoy Gregg and Black Rice as lead singer.
In 1984, George moved to Austria, where he met his Filipino wife, Gina, mother of David and Rose May. He went as far as recording some albums and made good impact in Austria before he called it quits. He was ‘retired’ by the family who maintain that all they need to do now is to support the new generation represented by Rose May.“I am now retired. So, all I do now is support and manage my two children’s career especially now that they have become household names,” he smiles.
Talking about his son, David, George said his talent was first put to the service of local club Aspern before his father guided him towards Austria Vienna aged 10.By April 2008, at the age of 15, he was named on the first-team subs’ bench. A handful of weeks later, he was off to Bayern.“He played in the yard or on the playground with other children every day,” George Alaba explained when asked about David’s first steps in football. “Other parents saw him and were amazed at how he played.”
The senior Alaba said David would have played for Nigeria, but Austria was first to cap him. He said David is always excited seeing Super Eagles play and win its matches. David was a fan of Sunday Oliseh when Oliseh played for FC Koln, he equally loved to watch Victor Agali in the jersey of Hansa Rostock, and more recently Chinedu Ogbuke
Though, Rose May’s mother may not have waxed any record, she is also a singer, who took time to hone her daughter’s skills.
Reminiscing events of her childhood, Rose May says, “as a child, I loved to play football, and I found a trainer in my brother, David, who had, since childhood, shown great tendency for football. As time went on, however, it became clear that my musical talent was more compelling.”You’ll wonder what brought the Alabas home when the sun was still blazing hot.
Rose May, who was born and raised in Vienna, Austria, says, “I am home, because I want my music to have African influence. I want to work with the producers and songwriters I have been listening to.” Her coming home, she claims, has given her a new confidence and willingness to experiment new genres. She adds, “as an artiste, you have to be ready for new things.”She explains, “I am in Nigeria to experience the musical environment and strengthen my art with African sounds. I’m still trying to find and nurture my own sound.”
Making valiant efforts to be bright and bubbly, she says, “I am not where I want to be yet; so, I am determined to work harder. I really love African music. My fans in Austria listen to African music, as it is a big thing.”There’s something she’s not thinking of now: To write or sing a whole song in Yoruba. But in the interim, there will be a fusion of Yoruba words, not necessarily like Olamide. Already, she has started to learn some Yoruba words. Even unconsciously, she tells her visitor: Ba wo ni, se dada ni.
May be in her next single she will add more vocabulary. But for now, Rose May will sing in English and the Central Austro-Bavarian dialects.Rose May is not bothered that she already has the likes of Tiwa Savage, Seyi Shay and Yemi Alade to contend with. She says, “I am my own competition. Music is beyond a hobby for me, its life. Moreover, I’m not just a pretty face, people will need to listen to my music so they can understand that I have a lot to offer.”
Though reluctant to give names yet, Rose May says she already has a list of Nigerian music makers she wants to work with. “Already, I have dream collaborations, but I don’t want to blow it. I’ll keep it to myself.”On the challenges of being an artiste, she has this to say: “There are sometimes a lot of pressure.”
According to her, it is not everyone that is ready to patiently and genuinely work with the artiste towards success. Her belief is that some just come around for the quick money they think they can get.Rose May says when she started; it was not easy finding the right people to work with. It was also difficult building a team, but because she was ‘passionate about music and love doing it, she was able to weather the storm.Please don’t ask if she is looking forward to relocating back home. “I’m not ready yet,” she insists. “But I will be coming home to record and do albums.”
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