Her personality is enchanting. Her voice is sonorous. Her style signature is simple, stylish. Her style of music is soul-lifting and edifying. For 17 years, the voice of Shola Allyson, the Nigerian soul, folk song, gospel singer and voice coach has continued to reverberate and titillate. Her music is poetic, unique and evokes memories of folklore. A woman of substance who has continued to redefine being a celebrity with an accomplished sense of simplicity. Always in her signature turban with a flowing gown, Allyson represents power and prestige. Funke Olaode writes about her essence and development
For great women and men who have recorded extra ordinary achievements in their journey to stardom, there will always be a day with history. For Shola Allyson, her case isn’t different. She was thrown into the limelight after recording the soundtrack of a Yoruba movie, ‘Eji-Ewuro” and since then it has been a roller coaster for the Ikorodu-born singer.
Hers wasn’t a long walk to fame and fortune in the world of entertainment having discovered her talents at the age of 13 that music runs in her soul and body. This was in the late 80s.
Her self-discovery led her to superstars like Yinka Ayefele, the late Gbenga Adeboye, Pasuma, Obesere and Daddy Showkey as a back-up singer. An encounter with a man with a movie script whom she met in a bus changed her destiny as the hit album, ‘Eji Ewuro’, was birthed and opened her world. This was in 2003.
Over the last 17 years, Allyson has increased the tempo in the entertainment industry as Nigeria’s soul, folk song, gospel singer and voice coach. From 2003 to date, Allyson has been actively releasing hit songs such as Gbe Je F’ori (2005), Ire (2007) Im’oore (2009), Adun (2012), Imuse (2018 ) and her latest release, Iri (2019).
Born in Ikorodu, Lagos State over four decades ago, Allyson had her early education up to secondary education in Ikorodu before proceeding to Government Technical College, Agindingbi, Ikeja where she studied Business Studies and obtained NBTE Certificate.
Restless, ambitious and focused, Allyson’s initial educational background you may say did not align with her ambition or talent. Like a scholar thirsting for knowledge, she shoved her business certificate aside to pursue her destiny.
In 1997, she enrolled to study music at The Polytechnic, Ibadan where she obtained National Diploma and later a Higher National Diploma with Upper Credit Division in Music.
Mission accomplished, Allyson embraced her world of music wholeheartedly. Along the line, she fell in love with Toyin Obaniyi whom she met in the church choir. She got married and is blessed with three children.
Motherhood, wife, and career often work hand in hand with this talented singer; marriage has not prevented her spirit from soaring higher. With her supportive husband, the sky is her stepping stone.
Since her debut album, which was well-received, Allyson has continued to tantalize her fans and die-hard followers with deep and thought-provoking lyrics whether it’s folk or gospel songs.
At the Luli Concert 4.0, there were young, talented and gifted performers. Their angelic voice (s) were captivating and at the same time edifying as they sat down quietly in their white apparels rendering melodious songs to the admiration of invited guests. The sound of organ humming was trailing their sonorous voice. They were a sight to behold. They were singers from Elberach Worship Ministry preparing for its annual concert. The Luli Concert 4.0 is a great platform where God uses talented and gifted artistes to His glory. Allyson was one of the invited guests.
Here, she was among the crowd with her signature turban and a flowing gown. Like old wine, the Ikorodu-born songstress is getting better with age as her voice and songs (whether old or new) still command respect as her fans always crave for more. Over the last 17 years, The Polytechnic Ibadan trained singer’s music has gone through various transformations.
“We have used different names at different times. The bottom line is that when you are listening to my music, it is a piece of music that people listen to and be closer to God. People will be happy and go away. It is the time that we call worship.
“I do different genres of music. There is stylistic music and lyrical music. When you say genre it can be gospel, hip-hop, and others. These days there are visions for everything. Some people would tell you they are doing gospel and when you listen to the song, it sounds like a music Wizkid produced. We use the same style but different lyrics. It is the style that we call gospel music that people listen to and get closer to God.”
Speaking on spirituality and music, she said, “A gospel singer must be born again.
“I can’t speak for others but myself. Remember, gospel music is like a pathway that leads people to God and you cannot lead someone to God when you have not embraced the Holy Spirit.”
Her music is poetic and unique which often evokes memories of folklore. The sonorous singer admits: “Well, one can get motivation from anywhere when composing music. But in my case, my music is largely influenced by life experiences, my faith with God, my life journey. When you look at my music, you look at the idea of the kind of work I deal with. The length and breadth of everything is that God is good and He is faithful. Whatever comes your way do not lose hope and always keep your hope alive.”
She talks about how her life’s experience has influenced her music, saying: “If you are a child or you have a child and in his /her sub-consciousness he/she knows that ‘my mother loves me. And she knows it” she will have this sense of belonging. And she has this strong feeling of attainment that I will reach a greater height.
“After all, I have got my mother’s back and the sky seems to be her stepping stone. You know you have a system in place to get to wherever she wants to. But when you have a child who doesn’t belong here or there or born out of wedlock. Our Jesus Christ was born out of wedlock. Before it used to bother me then. But when you have an understanding of who God is and your personal understanding, there are many things you will understand about your life.”
But Allyson knows her father now.
“I know my father and my mother,” she says.
“When you have a deeper understanding of your life you know whatever happens is pre-destined. If I didn’t go through all those things that I went through, I wouldn’t have been where I am today. Growing up I was a rejected child at a point. It is not a story that I want to dwell on. I have put it behind because God has been good. I went through different things at different stages of my life. I have since put it behind because my level has changed.”
It has been 17 years of fulfilment as a songstress and celebrity.
“Am I a celebrity?” she asks rhetorically.
“Well, I don’t define myself by what people define me. And I don’t consider myself one. Left for me, I want to live my life to honour God.”
From the backwaters of Ikorodu where she was born to the entertainment industry where she found her destiny, Allyson prefers to stay modest.
“Being famous to me is relative. For me, I knew I was going to be a person of influence. And how I am going to achieve that is in the hands of God? For instance, if I don’t wear my gele, which is my trademark you probably may not recognize me. Because I don’t like all the attention,” she explains.
There was, however, a time in her life that she contemplated quitting music.
“There were moments I felt like quitting music when I was not making money,” Allyson acknowledges.
“When money was not coming well. I was like I am a learned person. Let me dust my certificate and go and look for work. This is not peculiar to me; at every point in one’s life one will be at a crossroads whether to continue or to quit.”
Has money started flowing now? And how rich is she?
“We thank God,” she replies.
Off the stage, who is Shola Allyson?
She says: “I am just me. I am just me. I am just like anybody. I want to live my life to honor God as simple as I can.”
Can she do without her trademark turban?
“That is my identity on stage but when I am off the stage you can hardly see me in a turban. The turban is gele nah! And the way I tie it makes it. When I am working you will see me on it,” she states.
Allyson says further about life: “I think the older generation should be held responsible for that because they didn’t teach them to be tough. They didn’t let them have the strength of character. There is always this cliché: ‘I don’t want my children to go through what I went through.’ So children are pampered. In the process, they failed to instil the right value. Sometimes, you need to deprive children of certain things.
“It is just for them to know that this life is not a bed of roses. I do that to my children. I want them to know that faith aside, it is not every time that we have what we want. A situation whereby you give them everything they want they won’t even care about life. When these children get into life and life gets to them and they have to wait they get weak easily.”