Omawumi: I Sing Without Hiding My Feelings
When it comes to making music, Omawumi Megbele does it the same way she dresses; graciously vibrant.
The Warri Queen has tarried in the Naija showbiz scene for more than a decade, decorating her discography with hit-laden albums. Four words: Love, Deep, High, Life… which are concepts that have underlined the 39-year-old’s most recent artistic evolution and have reflected in her latest project, a studio album with the same title.
Love Deep High Life captures Omawumi in a very emotive, confident, and self-assuring record, all of, which remind fans of what exactly makes this Afro-fusion queen one of the most charismatic voices in the music industry.
From the opening track, Joy, Omawumi begins an adventure down different themes of love, self-motivation/development and positivity. It voyages down several hits such as Billionaire (Go Baby), My Darling (feat Waje), My Life (feat Phyno), Bullshit, Milk and Honey (feat Brymo), down to Fefe and Mr Whiny, to complete a balanced diet of honest and stellar songwriting plus, of course, beautiful vocalization. The entire album – which is love-dominated – is a feel-good album that really has no flaws.
Another amazing highlight is the sound production. Omawumi brings on the wealth of her ‘veteran’ musicianship into this project, stretching with something fresh and vibrant, yet retaining her own unique ‘native’ flavour. It is like a new recipe, but with a particular signature ingredient. The album is well-woven, with new classics, especially My Darling and My Life, which feature Waje and Phyno, and is one that would age well with time.
Catching up with Guardian Music, she talks about the inspiration behind the new project, her new artistic evolution, life as a media executive, as well as her fashion style.
What really inspired your latest project Love, Deep, High, Life?
WE make music and as we grow, we are constantly evolving. I got to this point where I just needed to express how I am feeling. Music is now at that point where you have to exude how you are feeling, abi no be so? The love now is not fickle; it is intentional, it is deep. The way I live my life now, I feel like I am on a higher plane. That is why I called the album Love Deep High Life.
If I don’t like you, I don’t like you; there are no in-betweens, I am not sitting on any fence right now. So, that was my state of mind. When it came to love, that was the way I was communicating it and interpreting it. When it came to interpreting it with songs like BS (B*llshit), that was it.
Some might even think the title is wordplay on the highlife?
I always flow with that genre a lot, but this project is different. They are actually four separate words.
You are known for a unique sound, but with this project it seems you experimented a little?
As creative people, we constantly challenge ourselves. I, for one, do not like to play safe. The only genre I think I have not experimented with is Fuji. Give me anything and I would jump on it; I like how it challenges me. When I hear myself, it is as if I am hearing a different expression of myself.
You’re racing to become a veteran in showbiz. How have you tarried for so long?
I don’t have an exact blueprint. I am just a well-grounded individual that makes music and is not afraid to speak her mind when she feels the need to.
So, looking back, how does it feel?
I feel really humbled by that, but that is just one aspect of my life. When I feel really humbled, it is not just about the fame; the fame doesn’t really do anything for me. The love, however, I appreciate. But the numbers and all that are very fickle. The least I can do is to be true to myself and continue to give the kind of music I want to give.
Let’s go back to the project, what drove you to the choice of features you used?
I am very intentional about the kind of music I put out. In fact, all the time I am creating music, I already know whom I want in it. It is not like we are confused about who we would look for. From the scratch, I know the person I want to create this specific project. I have never worked with Brymo before this album. Funnily, I have never worked with Waje on this scale before on my own album, even as everyone knows she is my close friend. We have not really put out music together. I had never worked with Ric Hassani before. I had worked with Phyno before, and I wanted someone as unruly as Phyno is. Phyno is well grounded; him no send anybody o. I needed someone like him to express the message that needed to be passed across on that song, My Life, and that is why I went with him.
I feel there might be storylines behind some of these songs?
Not really. Everybody, of course, expresses music through past experiences or you just want to pass a message across. I have always been one to do that as well. I dey do my own. E no concern me.
You recently had a grand performance at the Olu of Warri’s Coronation. How was the experience like?
I go home regularly; it is always beautiful to go home. I am a core daughter of the Niger Delta. My mother is also from Binima Town in Bonny Island; her culture is also very rich. When you grow up in that kind of environment, you cannot help but express through one of the things that you do. Of course, the coronation was a glorious moment; it was something to witness. I was filled with so much joy.
Tell us a bit about how you found your love for music?
I have always loved music; my elders influenced me. I am the 12th child of 15 children. And in our home, everyone had different genres of music they were into. I had brothers in Reggae and RnB. My mother was into Mariam Makeba, Brenda Fassie and Yvonne Chaka Chaka. My father was a Jazz Connoisseur for as long as I could remember.
I was influenced by different genres of music first of all. I have always known that I have had a thing for the arts. I was in Primary 4 when I joined the children’s choir in my church. By the time I got into secondary school, I was in another choir and we were acting and singing. I had always just been in that space for as long as I can remember.
Before I went into West African Idols, I was hearing conversations like, ‘they are doing singing contests now and you won’t participate; you would start making noise in the house. Go and sing o.’ It was pretty much expected that that was the route I was going to take.
Do you ever feel like you could have loved to use your law degree full-time?
Definitely. I wouldn’t do something that I did not love. I loved law very much. However, I found an easier way. It doesn’t mean that I do not have love and respect for the law profession, but na God dey direct us.
How are you enjoying your ride as a media executive and an artiste?
Well, you just do. I don’t know how else to explain it; it comes with experience. The good thing about it is my time is mine and my time is flexible. I am not put under the pressure of running around and all that.
How would you describe your fashion style?
My fashion style is comfortable. When I am uncomfortable, I think it is the worst feeling in the world. When you see me on Agbada and all that, yes it is intentional. I like being gracious; I like that fashion sense of being comfortable and also being different.
So, when they see you, people can identify you and say that is definitely Omawumi. When I cut my hair, everyone was like ‘what? We don’t recognise you anymore. Where is your Afro?’ I told them that they should not worry. My personality is big enough for you to recognise.
So, what is the next step now after this album?
Touring, definitely. I am exploring and even touring outside Nigeria by the time everything about the pandemic dies down. I have a series I am working on as an executive; I made sure to put this out first, before starting that one. I don’t like multitasking, especially on heavy projects. I am always working.
You know I am also a movie producer. Well, I am just grateful to everyone that has followed up on this album. It isn’t like I have one special superpower to be still receiving this love. I am always very grateful for the love. Na God go bless una. Then, people can also catch up with me on social media; I am very open to receiving them.
So, finally, tell us three things people don’t really know about Omawunmi.
If they don’t know already, that means that it is probably not their business.