- I Was Notorious as A Secondary School Girl
As her mellifluous voice wafts from the stage through the auditorium, an instant delirium is elicited from the crowd. With electric performances and her eclectic character, she never fails to send her fans into rapture. Her voice is intrinsically powerful; even her artistry is uniquely ingenious. Soulful in delivery, thoughtful in idealising, Yinka Davies is arguably Nigeria’s biggest understated female artiste. In this interview with Adedayo Adejobi, she unveils her enigma, public and private persona, and charisma
You seem to have been off the radar musically and doing a lot of stage plays these days. Are there plans for a career shift, or are you cooking some new music in the studio?
Theatre performances are time-consuming, yet intensely rewarding for me. Being on stage helps me to think clearly. So, when every time I get the chance to be part of a play for a stage, I jump at it. Recently, I almost bit more than I could chew and I bowed out gracefully.
How do you assimilate the influence of the various people in your band?
I’m not a learned musician. I can’t give them their tonic sol-fa notations off the cuff as they give themselves. However, not one sound can elude me. This is my blessing from God. A host of musicians name it – horns’ men, bassists, keyboardists – that had worked a bit or a lot with me will tell you I don’t play with sound. This is probably why a host of my band members are comfortable with me – I hope.
What does music mean to you?
Music is information presented to the ears that are willing to be soothed by sound.
What inspires you?
Anyone and anything honestly, it could be a look, a pose – anything.
Please, explain your creative process.
I apologise: it’s not something that I can say I do. I’m only blessed to be gifted and to recognise the ‘wave’ when it comes to me to write. But to tell you the process, I will need the Father to help me here.
Is there a hidden meaning in any of your music, Black Chiffon?
What is your favourite part of being an artiste?
It’s the joy of being inspired to write and see people’s reaction to a new sound.
Have you ever dealt with performance anxiety?
It’s always going to be there.
Tell us about your favourite performance venues.
I love nature. I love land, sea and air experiences so I look for great grounds that have that feel. My first choice has always been the Federal Palace.
What advice do you have for anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps?
To the person, I say: please allow patience to run its course in your life. Don’t learn things the hard way as I did. Let the Holy Spirit guide you and don’t insist on doing things your way without having a super-agreement with God first. One more thing: remain very playful and ever grateful. That’s the ultimate for your blessings.
What were you like in secondary school?
Notorious! A loner: always looking for trouble and yet, always getting love with all my aggravation.
What is your assessment of present-day music?
Those who know good music are still out there, serve them.
Some think you should go commercial. Do you align with that?
Music is music. It grows on you. There’s nothing called commercial or elitist music. Sound is sound.
What’s your favourite 1990s jam?
‘Places you find love’ by the legendary Quincy Jones.
If you could be any animal, what would that be and why?
I belong to the species that speaks. Why would I want myself to be less than who I am?
What was the last gift you gave someone?
It was the pleasure to see me perform.
What’s the last thing you watched on TV and why did you choose to watch it?
Construction is building, I like for us to build people.
What do you work toward in your free time?
Being alone with God; having a tête-à-tête with Him and deriving pleasure knowing He’s smiling.
What’s the most interesting thing about you that we don’t know about?
That’s for you to find out.
How will you rate your memory?
Pretty decent for a woman that likes to forget what a day brings either good or bad.
Are you more of a hunter or a gatherer?
I’m both actually: two extremes that have come to be of use whenever the need arises.
If you were a new addition to the crayon box, what colour would you be and why?
That would be a dash of paleness because I love complicating and utterly gobsmacking sense of style.
Say, we’ve wrapped up the interview and you stepped outside the office and find a lottery ticket that ends up winning $10 million. What would you do?
Nothing; it’s just a tool to plan what to do – and more responsibility. Better to invest half of it to yield, and use the other half to build people.
What do you think about when you’re alone in your bed?
My Lord Jesus
If you woke up and had 2,000 unread emails and could only answer 300 of them, how would you choose which ones to answer?
We must take ourselves seriously; there’s nothing wrong in employing people who have great minds to come to help you out and respond politely to all.
You are no doubt a creative writer with language. Describe the colour yellow to somebody who is blind.
Whatever makes you smile is bright and yellow.
Who will win a duel between Spiderman and Batman?
Clearly, (it’s) Batman.
How would you convince someone to do something they didn’t want to do?
By making sure, they are not aware they are doing it.
Would you rather know a lot about a little or a little about a lot?
Whichever one is appropriate for whatever is on the ground. For example, in a heated argument, better to stay neutral, know a little.
Who will you invite to a dinner party?
I will invite those who have the flair for dinner wear and wares.
Which three celebrities will you like to join for a night out?
The Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit.
Do you prefer to be right, or to be liked?
Being right or being liked does not help sir. Being true yet, humble enough to listen to all concerned before drawing a conclusion.
What would you do if the sun died out?
My light shines out and comes through
Do you like to sing in the bath?
Rare, but I’m not opposed to it.
What is the first song you publicly performed?
Being solong by Anita Baker
You are very deep. What inspires your introspection?
My Lord, my King, my Saviour, the God and Man Jesus Christ – the Lamb of God
What brings you the greatest joy?
It’s when people are satisfied with services (I) rendered (to them).
What brings you the greatest satisfaction?
It’s when all glory goes to God.
What makes you mad?
It’s when there are no real bases for doing what humans do to fellow human beings.
What song instantly puts you in a good mood?
‘Because of who you are’.
What is your greatest indulgence?
Seven large tablespoons of Milo with a teaspoon of coffee, and hot water to caress my feet – and some smooth sound playing in the background.
When do you think the wedding bells will ring?
When the time is right.
Are you getting married?
I trust to be going on honeymoon soon yes…
Who is your ideal man?
He’ll be someone who loves and fears God, loves to build people and is willing to go the extra mile to make people find rest in their hearts, in their businesses, and in their homes. As long as he’s got a great soul, I’m gunning for him straight.
Would love a man whose sex drive is excellent, so much that he wants it every day or the once-in-a-while type?
This is irrelevant to a life of purpose.
What would you do if you caught a member of staff kissing your man?
It must mean he made her smile.
What is your biggest fear?
Not knowing what to do.
Would you date a fan?
Should his person be sound, both in heart and mind after the euphoria of seeing what the world calls a star and still remains calm yet glad – na me go chase am.
What annoying habit do you have?
It’s eating the skin off my fingers.
Who is your inspiration?
Every living soul, especially Jesus.
What or who will you sacrifice your life for?
Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice for you and me. What’s wrong in living or dying for Him? Nothing.
What single event has had the biggest impact on you?
It was the day I literally saw the national theatre in 1986 and jumping hysterically saying to myself: Eureka!
What’s the most crucial thing for a healthy relationship?
How would someone get your special attention?
Every soul that’s created by God is special. My work is to make you achieve your full potential.
Why do you think apocalyptic games, movies, shows, and books have become so popular in recent years?
A new generation is being introduced to the way of life but (that’s being) watered down.
What does it say about our culture or society?
We are throwing our culture away and imbibing thin air.
What keeps you up at night?
What’s the most extreme example of poverty you have seen?
Everyone wants to be better than their neighbour.
What do some parents do that can screw up their kid?
I don’t like the tone of this question but I can say it’s neglect.
What will be a good theme song for your life?
I will leave that to you to decide.