Thursday, 7th December 2023

Yemi Alade… How Tiwa, Omawunmi Pregnancy Paved Way For Woman of Steel

By Chuks Nwanne
14 September 2019   |   3:50 am
If there one female Nigerian singer that has shown that consistency and hardwork indeed pays, that must be Yemi Alade. Ever since she hit the limelight in 2009, after winning the maiden edition of Peak Talent Show, the energetic singer has never looked back.

BROOKLYN, NY – SEPTEMBER 09: Yemi Alade performs on stage at 2018 Essence Street Style Festival on September 9, 2018 in Brooklyn City. (Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for Essence)

If there one female Nigerian singer that has shown that consistency and hardwork indeed pays, that must be Yemi Alade. Ever since she hit the limelight in 2009, after winning the maiden edition of Peak Talent Show, the energetic singer has never looked back.

Indeed, winning the music talent hunt show completely transformed her life. Aside from smiling home with a cash prize of N1 million, most of which she must have spent on studio sessions, the platform was all Miss Alade needed to discover her true potentials as an artist.

“The Peak Talent Show was an invigorating process that gave me the required impetus to truly want to pursue a career in music. I went into the competition as a raw talent, who needed an avenue to showcase her talent. The competition more than challenged me to respect my art as a lot of hardwork rather than just talent,” she said after the competition.

But at a time when the industry was totally dominated by men, it became obvious that for a Yemi Alade to succeed, she must be extremely creative. Besides, she must contend with Omawumi and Tiwa Savage, who were leading music ladies at the time.

Having emerged 1st runner-up in the Idols West Africa, the West African version of the Idol series franchise, which is a talent contest to find a recording artist, and aired on M-Net in 2007, Omawumi became a household name in the industry. Even Timi Dakolo, who eventually won the competition, had to play catch up with Oma Wonder, who didn’t waste time to hit he ground running with a debut single.

About this time, Tiwa Savage was still pushing her music career in the United Kingdom, after she resigned from her lucrative job with the Royal Bank of Scotland. In 2006 precisely, she participated in the UK edition of X Factor and advanced to the final 24. By 2009, Sony/ATV Music Publishing signed Savage to a music deal, which saw her write for leading stars such as Babyface, Kat Deluna, Fantasia Barrinoi, Monica and Maya.

“I’ve been handling songs for other artists, but I got to a point that I saw other artistes singing my story. So, I went to London to meet with my mum and she said to me, ‘Tiwa, God didn’t give you this talent to give to other people, it’s time for you to take the step.’ It was scary for me to make the move, but I’ve decided to do that now.”

This was part of the reasons Tiwa returned to Nigeria in 2010, with her single Kele Kele. Though not an easy task, it didn’t take long before the Isale Eko born singer became a household name in the music industry. However, it took her second coming to achieve that feat.

In those days, whenever show promoters wanted to create a mix in their lineup for concerts, they included either Omawumi or Tiwa Savage; in some cases both.

Meanwhile, the likes of Yemi Alade and Seyi Shay, who had returned to Nigeria to pursue her music career following the success story of Tiwa, played second fiddle to these two leading ladies. But between 2014 and early 2015, the opportunity provided itself; both Tiwa and Omawumi got pregnant almost the same time.

The Eminado singer and her then-husband Tunji ‘Teebillz’ Balogun announced they were expecting their first child together on January 1, 2015. Tiwa had attended fellow Mavin artiste Dr Sid’s wife’s baby shower in London, where she also performed alongside Flavour at the Dance Afrique Concert in London.

Owawumi also shared a photo of herself in a maxi styled Ankara dress and captioned it, “about to perform with my overload,” referring to her baby bump. That was the first time the Bottom Belle singer was showing her baby bump on her Instagram page Prior to this, she kept mum on the issue of her expecting a second child after her first child, Emmanuella.

Though the leading ladies managed to combine antenatal with career, it didn’t take long before nature took its course; they were gradually slowed down and eventually became nursing mothers.

While the mummies were breastfeeding and receiving postnatal care at home, Yemi Alade upped her game and confidently stepped into the gap. Thanks to her 2014 hit, Johnny, which came off her debut studio album King of Queens. The song was an international smash hit in many countries including Nigeria, Tanzania, Kenya, Ghana, South Africa, Liberia, Uganda, Zimbabwe, The United Kingdom, and others.

The growing popularity of the track across Africa forced Alade to producer a French version, which was successful in francophone countries. With a video directed by award-winning Clarence Peters, it didn’t take long before Yemi Alade caught the attention international audience.

By 2015, she was nominated in the Best Female Artist category of the MTV Africa Music Awards (MAMAs), alongside Seyi Shay, Bucie (South Africa), Busiswa (South Africa) and Vanessa Mdee (Tanzania). Held on July 18, 2015, at the Durban International Conference Centre (ICC Arena), Yemi Alade emerged winner in the category, thereby dethroning Tiwa Savage, who won the category the previous year.

To prove she’s not a flash in the pan, Alade got nominated in the same category the following year, alongside Tiwa Savage, Josey (Ivory Coast), MzVee (Ghana) and Vanessa Mdee (Tanzania). Again, she clinched the award.

Alade’s growing popularity in Africa earned her a nomination in the 2015 BET Awards for Best International Act: Africa, alongside Aka (South Africa), Fally Ipupa (Dr Congo), Sarkodie (Ghana), Sauti Sol (Kenya), Stonebwoy (Ghana), The Soil (South Africa) and Wizkid (Nigeria). However, Stonebwoy won that edition. She also returned on the nominees’ table for same category the following year, alongside Black Coffee (South Africa), who eventually won the award, and Cassper Nyovest (South Africa), Diamond Platnumz (Tanzania), Mzvee (Ghana), Serge Beynaud (Cote D’ivoire) and Wizkid. Since, she has been on a steady cruise.

Yemi Alade recently teamed up with American rapper and Maybach Music Group boss, William Leonard Roberts, known as Rick Ross for the remix to her previously released single, Oh My Gosh.

The original version, produced by Nigerian record producer, DJ Coublon, was released in 2018. The video was also released the same year, directed by Ovie.

But Ryan Snyder directed the video for the remix, which features the award-winning American rapper and former corrections officer in Florida. This was followed by the release of her 4th studio album, Woman Of Steel, a 13-track album with two bonuses.

American music star Beyonce also enlisted Yemi Alade, alongside Wizkid, Tiwa Savage, Burna Boy, Tekno and Mr Eazi in her new Lion King album. Other African acts on the project include Moonchild Sanelly, Busiswa, Salatiel, and Shatta Wale.

The album contains Don’t Jealous Me (a collaboration between Tekno, Yemi Alade and Mr. Eazi), Brown Skin Girl (Wizkid with Blue Ivy Carter, Beyoncé, and Saint Jhn) and Already (Beyoncé and Shatta Wale). Others are My Power (Busiswa, Yemi Alade, Moonchild Sanelly, Tierra Whack with Beyoncé), Water (Salatiel, Pharrell and Beyonce), Ja Ara E (Burna Boy and Beyonce) and Keys to the Kingdom (Tiwa Savage and Mr Eazi).

Earlier this week, Yemi Alade signed a licensing deal with Universal Music group Africa/France.

Universal Music Group, also known in the United States as UMG Recordings, is an American global music corporation that is a subsidiary of the French media conglomerate, Vivendi. The Universal Music Group’s West African affiliate is in partnership with Universal Music France.

Alade, through her record label, signed the deal with the global licensing in agreement with Universal Music Africa. Based on the multi-year agreement, UMA would serve as the exclusive worldwide record music partner for the singer with her label Effyzzie Music Group. Also, UMF would serve as the international roll-out partner for the project and the agreement would take effect immediately.

Born Yemi Eberechi Alade to James Alade and Helen Uzoma, her father is a Police Commissioner of Yoruba descent, while her mother is of Igbo descent, resulting in her being referred to as the Yoruba-Igbo girl; both influences could be seen in her music. She went to St. Savior British Primary School and later attended Victory Grammar School in Lagos, before heading for the University of Lagos to study Geography.

Effyzzie Music Group released her debut studio album King of Queens on October 2, 2014. Alade collaborated with producers such as Selebobo, Sizzle Pro, Shady Bizniz, Philkeyz, Young D, GospelOnDeBeatz, DIL, late OJB Jezreel, DIL, Mr Chidoo, Fliptyce, EL Mcee, and Beat Nation. Three singles, Johnny, Tangerine, and Kissing, preceded the album, which features guest appearances and skits from Bovi, R2Bees, Phyno, Chidimma and Diamond Plantnumz.

Alade promoted the album by touring several African countries, including Ghana, Kenya, and South Africa. The deluxe edition of King of Queens was released in November 2014 and contains French versions of songs originally performed in English. Its cover art was unveiled on 21 October 2014. According to the music platform, A Nation of Billions, King of Queens sold over 100,000 copies.

Alade’s second studio album Mama Africa was released on March 25, 2016, featuring guest appearances from P-Square, Sarkodie, Sauti Sol, Flavour, late DJ Arafat, and others. GospelOnDeBeatz, DJ Coublon, Selebobo, Philkeyz, BeatsByEmzo, Mastercraft, Rotimi Keys, and Mr. Chidoo produced the album. Six singles, Na Gode, Do As I Do, Ferrari, Kom Kom, Mama Africa and Tumbum, supported it.

The deluxe edition of the album was released on April 6, 2016, and features guest vocals from South African musicians Bucie and AKA.

In July this year, Alade became the first African female artist to reach one million subscribers on YouTube.