Makayla Makala… Melodies Of A Superstar At Ten

There is just something about children’s voices that is intriguing. From the opening record, I’ll Be Alright, to the remaining nine songs on the album, the 10-year-old chanteuse, Makayla Makala, creates an intimate sound-piece, which is exciting as well as introspective. 

“I thank you for my music, I pray that I use it to help other people in the world,” her tender voice opens through the album with enthusiasm.

There is just something about children’s voices that is intriguing. From the opening record, I’ll Be Alright, to the remaining nine songs on the album, the 10-year-old chanteuse, Makayla Makala, creates an intimate sound-piece, which is exciting as well as introspective. 

Makala, who debuted in the industry at the age of 7 with a track dubbed Just Dance, returns now with her third consecutive album titled, Ten, which, interestingly, commemorates her tenth birthday; her debut and sophomore projects were also titled Eight and Nine, for the same reason. 
While one might think that the golden era of child musicians in Nigeria has faded with the likes of Benita Okojie, Tosin Jegede, and many others, with Makala there is a resurgence of hope. In Ten, Makala starts an open conversation into self-development, creating a sound that is not only inspiring to people around her age but across all generations as well.

In this Guardian Music special, we had a conversation with the singer to explore what it feels like to be a blooming child superstar, becoming a child author at 10, drawing inspiration from Micheal Jackson, as well as memories collaborating with her fellow child superstars Emanuella, and Temidayo Abodurin, among many others. 

Congratulations on your new album. How does it feel for you?
It feels good being able to finally share my new album, Ten, with everyone. Also, I tried Afrobeats and pidgin for the first time on this album, and I am so happy people love it. I keep getting videos of people playing and dancing to my songs and that makes me happy.

How long have you been making the album? 
I spent about six months working on the album. The process was not too tedious, thanks to my team, even though I had to always factor in time for schoolwork and other activities.

My producers made sure I was not under any pressure and worked around my schedule and when I was done recording, they would work on the mix and let me know if I had any retakes or anything like that. It was a rather interesting process. It also helped that I was kind of used to the flow, being my third album.

What inspired this particular album?
The album was inspired mainly by experiences I come across every day. I wanted to capture my journey so far being a young artiste trying to make her mark in the music industry. I also wanted to broaden my fan base by incorporating more African and popular song styles like afrobeats, amapiano and trap to my music.
In summary, this album is about gratitude to God and my fans, commitment to put in the work and confidence in my ability to succeed.

What are some of your favourite songs on the album?
It is a bit difficult for me to say, as I love all the songs on the album for different reasons.  However, if I had to pick three songs they would be Yes O, because on the track; I got to collaborate with two of my greatly talented friends, the great saxophonist, Temilayo Abodunrin, and biggest kid comedienne, Emmanuela. I love everything about the song, especially the fact that three young girls could work together and create music that people like.

No Be Today, because the track explains my music journey in some kind of way and also reminds me of the work I have put into my career and that it can only get better.

Lastly, it would be Biggi Love, because it celebrates my fans all over the world. I am really grateful for the global reception of my music and my growing fanbase.

Which song was the most memorable to make? 
The song will be I’ll Be Alright, which happens to be the first track on the album. It was the last song I recorded, and I really connected with it because firstly, I love rapping and secondly, on my music journey, I have learned to trust in God; do my best and believe that everything will be all right.

I got into music, because I told my dad that I wanted to sing and for some reasons, he decided to let me record something and three years later, somehow, I have released my third album.

You started music from an early age, how did you first get attracted to Music?
Michael Jackson! I heard Michael Jackson for the first time when I was about four years old at my school’s fun day event where my dad was called out to dance to one of his songs. After that, I just fell in love with his music and listened to it every day.  I remember asking my dad questions about him and watching his videos on YouTube.
Then, one day, as I was listening to him in my dad’s car, I asked my dad if it was possible to be as popular as Michael Jackson and he said ‘yes, but it would take a lot of hard work.’ I guess that’s when I first decided that I wanted to be a singer.

Do you want to do anything else apart from music?
Of course, but I guess music will always be one of the main things I do, as I have a lot of fun doing music. But I am still young and will definitely try a lot of things.

For example, my first book, The African Princess, got published this year and who knows what’s next.

Who are some musicians that inspire you?
To be honest, the only musician that really inspires me is Michael Jackson, probably because I really got to connect with his works, his life and accomplishments. Somehow to me, he is the greatest artiste ever. Don’t get me wrong, I listen to and like lots of songs by various artistes, but I probably have not spent enough time studying anyone else and so to me, every artiste is somehow trying to be like Michael Jackson or should be.

Who would you like to collaborate with? 
Billie Eilish. I am young and still have a lot to learn so the list is very long, but generally, I would love to collaborate with any experienced artiste that would agree to collaborate with me so long as we are making kid-friendly music.

If you could advise other child musicians right now, what would you say? 
I would say, you are not too young to follow your dream and as long as you enjoy what you do, keep doing it and don’t give up. I know a lot of people might not be ready for young musicians right now, but seeing how my musical journey has been so far, I feel the most important thing is to be ready to put in the work; learn from everything and be consistent.

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