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SEYI SHAY: TOURING UK WITH BEYONCE WAS FANTASTIC

25 May 2013

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DEBORA OLUWASEYI JOSHUA OTHERWISE KNOWN AS SEYI SHAY IS A THOROUGHBRED SINGER, SONG WRITER, PRODUCER AND ENTERTAINER. HER ENTRY INTO SHOWBIZ IN NIGERIA IS TO SAY THE LEAST PHENOMENAL. SELDOM DO WE FIND BURGEONING ARTISTES WITH THE FEAT SHE HAS RECORDED IN BARELY SEVEN MONTHS ON THE NIGERIAN ENTERTAINMENT SCENE. THE DARK-HUED STAGE ROCKER OPENS UP TO LANRE ODUKOYA ABOUT HER CAREER, FAMILY AND BACKGROUND

SECRETS OF MY GROWTH IN SHOWBIZ…
It’s just my seventh month in the Nigerian showbiz industry and I’m proud of my growth. It’s actually due to a combination of things. The first is the company that I work with - Flytime Entertainment - renowned for staging mega shows here in Nigeria and Sound Sultan for bringing me to Nigeria and introducing me to Cecil Hammond. I also owe it to Efe Omoreghe for taking me on as an artiste and as a project. These, coupled with hard work and tenacity made my rise astronomic. But actually, for me, it’s been about fourteen years of doing music.

HOW I STARTED MUSIC…
Professionally, I started when I was about ten. I was in the choir in London. I was born and raised in the UK but my parents are Nigerians. My mom is from the north and my day is from Ife, Osun State. My parents lived in London for over twenty years to provide good education for their kids. I’d started visiting Nigeria when I was two because that was the tradition in my family. I returned home later and started schooling at Command High School, Maryland, Lagos. I went back to the UK to complete my education at the college and the university. My foray veered from singing in church to singing in the school and singing secular in the studio. And then, the songs that I composed with the Harmony Group was taken from me and used for bigger artistes in the UK. That was fine, but I still had it in my mind that I was going to be an artiste and sing my own songs.

HOW BEYONCE’S DAD MET AND TOOK ME TO AMERICA…
At the university four years ago, I joined a British all girls singing group. We were called From Above. It consisted of five girls, two white girls, one mixed breed girl, one Asian girl and me. We were just rehearsing at the studio in the UK one day and Matthew Knowles, Beyonce’s dad saw us. We sang for him and there and then he decided to sign us to his Sony/Columbia Record and Music World Entertainment Company. He later took us to Houston and things began to shape from there. So, we underwent intense training like vocal and dance training because we were under contract to do stuff. It was called the Star Power Boot Camp. Apparently that was what Destiny’s Child went through back in their time.
A year went by and we were offered the opportunity to support Beyonce on tour. So, we went round the UK since it’s our territory and the tour was called ‘Beyonce I am’ tour. We went to Manchester, New Castle, Nottingham, London and it was fantastic. We were performing in front of about 16,000 guests every night.

BETWEEN NIGERIAN AND AMERICAN MUSIC PRODUCTION…
I was instilled with a lot of discipline underneath Matthew Knowles’ guidance and being on tour with Beyonce, I realized she’s the best because of what her dad did to her. There were days that I cried and I didn’t want to be in the group anymore and I said people shouldn’t have to go through waking up at 5:30am and start running around in the heat. I didn’t understand it but then I later figured that it instills discipline in you. So, when the group fell apart after our reality show, Breaking From Above on MTV which was one season with six episodes. And it was shown all over the world and it’s still showing in some parts of Africa. When you watch it, you’d see all that I’m telling you about the vocal and dance trainings using all of Beyonce’s teachers. Coming to Nigeria was because the group fell apart a year later and I think Matthew Knowles too is having some personal issues. I decided to do something else because I was the lead singer of a group I didn’t believe in anymore. I wanted to leave anyway. So, when I met Sound Sultan in London and he heard the materials I have accumulated over the years, he felt that I could return to Nigeria, be a solo artiste and do much better than what I’ve done in four years being in a group. I heeded his counsel because I like his music. He’s very wise and knowledgeable. Then I got close to his family. After he introduced me to Cecil Hammond and Cecil told me, “if you can put everything you have learnt from Matthew Knowles into your own craft in Nigeria, you would blow.” And that was what I did. I spent up to four months training with my dancers in Nigeria. Music is harder for me to do here because I’m used to certain level and environment. I’m used to certain excellence in sounds and when I came to Nigeria, I realized that everyone was trying as hard as they can to attain that excellence. Unfortunately, we cannot stand side-by-side with American artistes even down to our packaging. The sound is the most challenging thing for me. You cannot compare the sound of Tina Turner album to the one of Seyi Shay produced in Nigeria. And I’ll like to be part of the change in Nigeria.

ABOUT MY WORKS…
I’m working on my concert next year. And I’m also working on my album launch which we want to do differently. I’m still fresh in the industry and I feel there’s a lot I have to do. I have a single I did with Timaya and another one with Olamide coming out soon.


MY EXPERIENCE WITH OLAMIDE…
It was very easy to flow with Olamide because I can be a street girl if I want to. What you see now is probably more of the decent side of me. From all the works I’ve done since last year, my fans know that I’m real, I’m not into any ‘effizzy’. So, when I went to Olamide’s house, immediately, I told him I would like to eat amala and he was very excited to hear that. You know he’s now called ‘Badoo’, he now calls me ‘Badoolet’. It was easy to work with him because we could relate with each other well. He actually wrote the song already, from head to toe and I’m used to writing my songs. We recorded it and it came out fantastic and he did his rap which turned out to be a very great song.

TIME OUT WITH TIMAYA…
I was doing a Channel O interview and the interview went viral all over Africa. So, Timaya told me that he was in South Africa and that he watched the interview. The interviewer asked me, “who would you like to work with first in Nigeria?” And I said Timaya is my favourite artiste. So, when Timaya saw that, he decided that if he ever meets me, he would do a song with me. I was just in the studio with my producer Delby and Timaya walked into the studio just like that. We were very excited and I played the song that I’d been working on to him. He liked it and just got on the microphone and did a free-style. He didn’t even write the song. And it came out so lovely that we’re going to shoot a video for it.

ABOUT MY ALBUM…
My album is not ready yet. I have got only three singles since September last year when I came out. The singles are; Loving Your Way, Irawo and No Lele. I feel we still need to push the songs a lot more. I’m very grateful for the Tuface and Friends tour that I’m doing because it’s allowing me to publicize myself to fans in East, North and South. I’m hoping the album will be dropped in January of February next year when it’s quiet so that it can drop with a bang.

MY PARENTS ROLES IN MY CAREER…
My dad has not really been a typical part of my life. He has kids everywhere. I’ve never really been close to him like that. Before my mom died, she wasn’t really a believer in this music thing, though she supported me. She paid for my violin, drama and piano lessons. But she never thought that I would take it this far and the day before she died, she told me, ‘Ok, I agree with you on this music you insist on doing, but make sure you put God first.’ I didn’t think she was going to die and nobody thought so too. She wasn’t sick, she just had a surgical operation and it went bad. In her spirit, she knew something would happen and she would not see me again, she said very prophetically: “You’d end up in Nigeria at the end of the day.” And she added that before I marry or allow any man take that part of my life, I should make sure I’m a successful woman. It might sound controversial.

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