Sola Allyson is one of the most successful female indigenous musicians in Nigeria. A thorough musician and musicologist, Sola studied Music Technology in The Polytechnic Ibadan and graduated with an Upper Credit, Voice major, Piano minor. The soulful singer shot into limelight in 2003 and has since stayed relevant. She has maintained her style and essence over the years. Very into inspirational music, Sola thinks music can transform minds.
With about 15 years of doing music professionally, you have maintained a style of soul and folk music. Why that genre considering that it’s not popular around here?
I have been doing music professionally for about 29 years, as a back-up singer, worked with different artistes. I became a solo artiste in 2003 with the release of Eji Owuro. I studied Music in school as a Voice Major, Piano minor and Performance as area of specialization. I do Traditional Art as a genre which has a fusion of soul and folk as you mentioned. I have maintained “my” style because it is just my style. It comes from within although with influence(s) from different kinds of music I grew with as a child. The way I sing and express myself is an innate thing, and is peculiar to me, because I found my own niche. I was helped to carve the niche and I have the niche!
To say the genre is not popular might not be completely true. It developed from our indigenous styles like Fuji, Juju, Waka, Sakara and so on. It has bits of these styles/genres and therefore is peculiar to us as a people. It is homegrown. We identify with it as a people.
What inspired your chosen genre?
My chosen genre chose me! I did not start out to say I wanted to be like someone or sound like someone, as much as I greatly respect and honor the Singers I grew up to know. I cannot explain it. I open my mouth to sing and I just sound the way I do.
Your songs are mostly communicated in your indigenous language. Were you not worried about acceptance and global relevance?
No; I was not worried about acceptance and global relevance because I did not set out to impress or become known. Like I said earlier, I just sing. I sound like this and the souls of men and women that could identify with me are blessed! You see, I believe that I am not sent to everybody. Even those singers who have global relevance are not identified with by everyone that comes across their works.
It is very important for us to know why we do what we do and why we are the way we are. As much as one strives to improve, get better and not remain the way we are, it would be a great blessing to know where one belongs and for what reason. That is when we overcome the anxiety that bursts forth from craving to be accepted by everyone, that is why we would fully fulfill the true purpose of our gifts.
Did you at any time consider quitting on this and doing something else?
Hmm… Quitting, no. Weary sometimes, yes. Of course because of various challenges. But I draw strength from hope in The Love of The Almighty. I want more money, truthfully. And the environment, the industry, hmmn.. but I don’t think I can ever quit singing. My singing is my message to my world, my platform, my purpose, my sphere. And it’s not just about the singing, but about the effect the lyrics I’m privileged to write have on my world. I get feedback that humbles me, and I am propelled and encouraged to go on. But the money should come o!
What values do you think has helped your success story so far?
The old values of my faith, of my culture, of the principles of life. Not “packaging”, as much as that cannot be ignored, or speaking English, that’s important too, but with character, humility, determination, focus, respect, honor, excellence, integrity, ability to keep and tend my spiritual domain and all good and godly values I had observed, I have learnt and still learning as I grow on.
What do you imagine or foresee of the future of The Sola Allyson Brand?
Oh, it can only get better! It is getting better as the years come and go. And as the years ahead come and go, better it shall be. There are prospects I would keep personal. Looking back, it is more beautiful and purpose-centered than when it began and as long as the vision is held onto, better and stronger the brand shall be.
Music is a tool, what kind of tool would you want it to be perceived as in your hands?
I am always working to make it a tool of help, correction, improvement, exposure to the true love of The Almighty towards us, the beauty in my nature as a woman, loving and guiding the young ones, and many functional things in our lives.
Your love for the female gender shines through; would you be comfortable with the feminist tag?
A feminist, hmmm… My faith, my experiences, my relationships with different kinds of people, the beauty and truth in my culture; in all, I have learnt, I have seen and I know that the Woman has her own place in creation.
When the Woman is treated, cared for the way she should be, things work better in the family and the society in general. But, the Woman, is she in her place? Does she realize who she is in the first place? Is she sensitive to the beauty and power and influence that belong to her?
Why should she ignore her own “duties” and be in competition with the Man who has his own place differently? Why should the man believe that it is until he subjugates the woman that he is powerful? Why can’t we both know that we should work in our different qualities and strengths to make the world more beautiful? Is this how feminists think? I don’t know. All I know is when I’m in my rightful place in creation, I thrive and blossom as is The Father’s intention.
If you have to work on a gender based social cause, what would it be?
Boys must be thoroughly schooled about what life with a woman actually is before daring to become a husband! It is not only about “putting money down” that makes a man one.
Let’s talk about your love for African fabrics, one is yet to catch you in a suit.
Because I am proudly African! I do those sometimes but you cannot meet me and not know the Africanness in me. I just love us, the beauty in us, the way we do us, simple.