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Spreading Light With Music

By Guardian Nigeria
18 November 2023   |   4:20 am
Across the Christian gospel music scene, many fresh faces have begun to dominate the scene. Born Olumide Oyibokure, Nigerian singer Waju, is a fine addition to this era of Nigerian gospel musicians.

Waju

Waju, the multi-talented Nigerian artiste is poised to take the music scene by storm with the launch of his sophomore album titled “Lumination”. From humble beginnings, he takes us on an artistic voyage, sharing insights into the inspiration behind the eclectic album, challenges faced in the quest to achieve his dreams and much more.

Your background
My name is Olumide Olanrewaju Steven Tolulope Oyibokure and I go by the stage name Waju. I come from a family of four, I’m the first child and I have three siblings, an immediate younger brother and two lovely sisters. My late dad was a media personality, a great journalist and a brilliant writer. I loved his write ups and enjoyed reading them a lot. My mum is a retired civil servant, a seasoned teacher who taught the arts and languages, Yoruba and English to be precise. My family moved around a lot, hence, I attended quite a number of schools at the primary education level. I attended Model Nursery and Primary School, Ile-Epo, the Tifedayo Nursery and Primary, Railway crossing, Gateway Nursery and Primary School, Alagbado and finally Corolla Nursery and Primary School, also in Alagbado. I attended Ijaye Ojokoro High School, Alagbado and studied Linguistics and African studies at the University of Ibadan. I’m into music fulltime and love what I do.

How did you venture into music and what influenced your chosen style of music?
My love for music started at an early age, I would say when I was aged between 10 and 12, but I didn’t really take it seriously in terms of wanting to build a career in it. In early 2000, I joined the choir of The Abundant Life Church, Agege, Lagos, where Gbenga Oyebola a.k.a. (Gminor) of the highly acclaimed award winning group, Midnight Crew was one of our choir directors. I learnt a lot under his tutelage and by the time I gained admission into the university, I began performing at various gigs on campus, and like they say the rest is history. Like other forms of art, which are all about expression, music gave me opportunity to tell my own story, my truth, my struggles and personal experiences. I could write poems, draw or dance, if I wanted to but I realised music was the medium that really gave me the opportunity to truly express myself the way I wanted. It’s hard to put a peg on what actually influenced my style of music apart from wanting to be unique. However, it’s a colourful mix of different sounds from afrobeats, soft rock, pop to R&B, juju and highlife.

Walk us through your creative process of making music
Well for me, there’s no fixed approach to it but primarily it comprises writing the songs as well as vocalising the same. Writing songs is basically about engaging in storytelling, which I believe should be genuine with a view to eliciting the right emotional response from the audience. It is an art, so, as the master storyteller, after I’ve conceived the idea for the song, I take out time to carefully string the words together in a way that best tells the story while simultaneously toying with potential beats, keys, pitch that suits it. Sometimes, if I have to play with words, I do it intelligently and with a bit of humor too. When I’m satisfied with the depth of the lyrical content, vocalization begins and the lyrics are brought to life through it. Then of course, I go through a series of rehearsals and work with relevant music professionals to ensure that the song(s) and quality of production meets international standards.

Tell us about your latest project
My latest project, which happens to be my sophomore album is called Lumination and as the name suggests, it’s a showcase of what I can do and also great things to expect in future. It’s a 15-track album with songs that talks about life, love, personal struggle and challenges. The album will be out on all streaming channels on November 24, and songs like Dide, will keep the audience enthralled.

What inspired Lumination?
I stepped back and carried out a critical assessment of the daily life struggles of man amidst the backdrop of societal prejudice and economic instability. Many people are going through tough times; broken relationships, health, financial challenges, loss of a dear one, depression, and sometimes even in your family, among friends, colleagues, you might not know except they open up to you or you sense there’s something wrong and probe further. So with all these and other issues coming to the fore in rapid succession, I was inspired to let people know that there’s light at the end of the tunnel. I also drew inspiration from the power of love, personal and other people’s experiences.

What makes it different from your previous works?
Years ago, I was part of the gospel group called ‘Made In Heaven’ and we executed various projects. Although different geo-locations that we found ourselves in actually put a strain on our ability to continue as a group, we still have a strong bond and keep in touch. It was a collective effort back then, but Lumination is my first solo album. It isn’t gospel but it has a strong, distinct message that will inspire the audience, has mass appeal which people irrespective of nationality, race, tribe, age can connect with.

How do you deal with performance anxiety?
I’m not sure if there’s any artiste who is truly free from performance anxiety irrespective of popularity, experience or legendary status. For me, I try to deal with potential stress ahead of my performance. I relax my nerves and shift my focus away from the performance and channel it on building positive energy around myself. Through this, I’m all pumped up when the time comes for me to mount the stage.

Were there times you felt like giving up?
There were a lot of challenges that I faced as an unsigned artiste without a popular record label. I always had to hustle to get gigs. Now going solo, I’ve had to wear different hats just to ensure that my dreams didn’t die. On this project, I’ve been the music composer, song writer, executive producer, music director, content creator among others. It was overwhelming and emotionally draining.

Furthermore, when I thought of the promotional aspect and the huge funds involved, throwing in the towel was the only thing that kept coming to my mind. However, I believed in myself, my dreams kept moving on even in the darkest times and today I’m happy that it has come to fruition.

Who inspires you locally and internationally in the music Industry?
Well, I listen to a lot of artistes so it’s really hard to say this or that person inspires me. They are all good in their own rights and can hold down their spots. For me, God still remains my source of inspiration.

Is there anyone in particular that you would like to collaborate with?
That’s another hard to tell answer (laughs). Currently, I don’t have anyone in mind but notwithstanding I’m open to collaborations both locally and internationally.

Where do you envision yourself in five years?
I see myself releasing more songs, albums, taking my craft to the global stage, engaging in collaborations, brand deals, vocalizing songs for films/TV series among others.

What’s your advice to those who are on the verge of giving up on their musical dreams?
The journey of a thousand miles begins with a step. Once you take that step, don’t look back. There will always be challenges on the way, just keep working and ensure you’re moving forward. Nothing in life comes easy except you want to cut corners and we know the aftermath of such. Keep being diligent, believe in yourself, trust the process and one day it will pay off. Also In everything you do, put God first.

How do you unwind?
I spend time with my family, play with my kids, hang out with friends, play video games or see a movie.

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