In an industry where the beat, rather than the lyrical content, determines to a large extent the acceptability of a performer, Lindsey paves a different path. She is making a statement with her alternative soul genre, she tells Eromo Egbejule
She’s the daughter of a father, who was a disc jockey in his university days. Then, her mother had joined her local church choir at age six. Lindsey Abudei became the quintessential example of the contemporary borderless Nigerian, having been born and bred in Jos, though of Delta origins and now an Abuja resident.
However, it is neither her background nor her parents’ that is guaranteed to stand this alternative soul singer out, but the aplomb with which she dishes out soul-piercing vocals on her stellar records.
Hers is a genre that is relatively new but encouragingly gaining relevance through the likes of Bez, Christine Ben-Ameh in Nigeria. Her vocals and the simplicity of her lyrics are already drawing comparisons with the likes of Jason Mraz, India Arie and Corinne Bailey Rae, Norah Jones and Roberta Flack.
Lindsey studied law at the University of Jos, but warns, “I’m not so crazy about law. I’d rather have studied International Relations. So don’t think anything I do has got a connection to the fact I studied law.”
Unlike many other singers, she was not in the choir at any time in her childhood. The only time she was in one was in secondary school, she says. “I joined the choir briefly when I was in SS3 for an album we were to release for our graduation. It was the first time I had a studio recording actually.”
The petite performer has previously collaborated with some of “the usual suspects” from Jos namely; M.I. Abaga and Jesse Jagz on their respective albums.
“I met Jesse and Jude in 2004,” she reminisces. “Had jam sessions and recordings under the Loopy Records umbrella while they were still in Jos. Loopy is still my family.”
The journey from the underground began right after she left Jos for Abuja in 2009. “I came to Abuja as soon as I was done with my finals. Or rather almost as soon as I was done with my finals. Jude, Jesse and Ice Prince had been signed before I came to Abuja.”
She explains further: “I was working and singing at the piano lobby with Sammy (Jeremiah Gyang’s younger brother, a pianist). I had my piano sessions three times a week and played in different places as often as I could before Project Fame came; came back and continued and I’m here now...”
Having been eliminated early in the 2010 MTN Project Fame competition, she says it made her discover herself and refuses to speculate on any perceived partiality towards her.
Her debut collective offering, Brown The EP, released last February, is deliciously enchanting and worth its weight in gold. For lovers of true art, it is a welcome deviation from the “pangolo music” that currently pervades the Nigerian music industry. Its 11 tracks include the hit “Taxi”, “The Letter” and covers of Asa’s “Jailer” and Fela Kuti’s “Trouble Sleep Yanga Go Wake Am”, among others. Production credits include Jesse Jagz, IBK Spaceshipboi and Atta Lenell, who produced most of the EP.
The songstress, who can also play the guitar, has no favourite on the collection, claiming: “I’m not a fan of my work. I’m my own worst critic but I guess ‘The Letter’ is more Lindsey.”
Recently, she performed songs from the EP at her concert, “Lindsey Live In Concert” in Abuja with a live band, an event that garnered positive reviews from critics in the city. She has also performed at several concerts and shows in and out of Abuja including the Hennessy Artistry and Arthur Guinness @ 250 celebration.
She is yet unsigned, even though she is affiliated with the FCT-based Gospel Records, which manages all her live events.
With all its grandeur and the paraphernalia of power encapsulated in it, Abuja is still second to Lagos in the scheme of things in the entertainment business, a fact that she is very well aware of.
“I may have to be in Lagos more often. Still trying to do what I can do here (Abuja) before that time comes. When I was moving, I needed a place to be in besides Jos considering the fact that it was all I knew. The question of whether Abuja or Lagos didn’t come in at the time I made that decision,” she says.
Angelique Kidjo and Youssou N’dour are two of the biggest names in African music and the two acts she would readily welcome a collaboration with sometime in the future.
And even though her daily routine is pretty boring and mostly fits into the studio-meetings-house-gigs box, she says she gets inspiration from everything around her. “Things that have happened to me; things that happened to other people; conversations sometimes and things I dream about.”
Extremely shy by nature, Lindsey refuses to be drawn into any discussions about her personal life whatsoever. “I’m an introvert,” she says. “I’m a pretty private person.”
Jos has in recent years, unwittingly established itself as a breeding ground – an unofficial Julliard of some sorts – for versatile talents in the Nigerian entertainment industry, from the Choc Boys to the Grip Boys and Lindsey could be the next in line from that city to fully embrace the limelight.
• Egbejule writes from Lagos