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Ghana’s Afro-Pop Queen Nuella Wiyaala Shares Her Journey To Stardom


It was a life changing experience when she won a music reality show with her group in Ghana and went solo. Nuella Wiyaala has since become a force to reckon with in her genre of music. She’s now a household name both in Ghana and beyond. Still her humble self, Nuella Wiyaala bared it all in this interview with Encomium Weekly on why she keeps working hard to get to the top because she never wanted to experience what she went through before her rise to fame and fortune.


The British High Commissioner to Ghana recently endorsed you as the next big artiste to watch out for in Ghana. How does that make you feel?

Personally, it’s mind blowing for me and that means he has seen something special in me like everybody else. And they keep telling me I have a bright future because they see me going far in my career. I feel very humbleed anytime I get such comments from “big” people like him. I mean, I just crawl back into my shell, not that I’m afraid, but it makes me sit back and think twice before I do things now, because people are watching me. Though, I don’t care what people say about me, either negative or positive, I tend to stick to the positive. This year, no negativity at all. I just want to do my best and not disappoint. Though I’m not perfect, I want to try my best and be the best I can, because a lot of people are looking up to me.

What was it like when your group was announced the winner of the Vodafone Music competition?

The word to use is “wow” and that includes everything. I was excited, surprised, humbled again, and inspired to move on. That was my fourth year and second time on that stage in that competition. The first time I contested, I didn’t win. I was so sad because I knew deep down in my heart that I could do it. Then I didn’t have people to support me or a coach to teach me some techniques. I had to figure out everything on my own.  When I looked at the other contestants, I saw their parents coming to support them. So, I was really down, emotionally, psychologically and what have you.  I didn’t bring out the best in me, but the next time I was contesting. I had the love and support I needed from my family and my father who was not in support of my career gave in and supported me. That really made me confident in what I was doing.

WiyaWhat inspires your stage performance because many people believe that you light up the stage anytime you are on it doing what you know how to do best?

I think it’s the love I have for what I do. Some say it’s passion, but they have used the word a lot, so I love what I do, that’s why I don’t feel the stress, frustrations. I don’t let insults get to me.  I am exactly where I want to be, entertaining people. And when I’m on stage, whether people are dancing or not, you can see it on their faces that they are enjoying the show. Sometimes, I even prefer when people are quiet and enjoying my songs than dancing and jumping around, but fortunately for me, I get both. When I start with my cool songs, people listen even though they might not understand the language, but they enjoy the melody and when they finally get up to dance, it’s just amazing. Though, most times I don’t plan my dance moves, I feel people enjoy it because it just comes naturally and I flow with vibes.

Is there anything you are scared of when you look back at your humble beginning?

I don’t want to go back to “before”. I mean, I don’t want to go back to my poor life when I was thinking if it will work or not. Or will music put food on my table because that’s what I had always wanted to do. And let’s be realistic, if I’m not making an income to put food on my table, how will I survive. So, I don’t want to go back to that stage. I always tell my manager, I don’t want to go back to that stage of poverty, where some wicked souls will take advantage of you, maltreat, frustrate and embarrass you because they feel you are nothing. That’s an area I don’t wish to go back. I don’t also like the word “failure” I know we are not perfect, but I don’t like disappointing people. But what scares me most are my hustling days. I don’t want to go back to it. A lot has happened, but I just thank my God that I was able to get out of that situation.

Which of your songs gave you the breakthrough at the international level?

I will say Go go Ghana because it was featured on the billboard, and I don’t know how it got there. So if you say international, that song really went very far…

What inspired your hit song, Africa?

I think it’s my guitar. The first time I laid my hands on a guitar that was the tune I played, I mean, the tune of the song, and I just fingered the chords on my own during the competition. I noticed the tune was afrocentric and I started adding the lyrics, but I couldn’t finish at that time, until I went to South Africa to record the song. I almost didn’t record the song because of the space, but the director said the song is nice that I have to record it, and he added some words. That was how it came alive. But the song was inspired by Sherifa Guru. She did a song about peace in Africa. She gave me a lot of support when I was shooting the video.

Who are your role models?

I think people that just work hard and refuse to be over dependent on others and are ready to walk the walk, talk the talk in a positive way. People who don’t take the easy way out inspire me a lot., because from way back it wasn’t easy, but when I met some people and they told me how they started, I realized that mine has been a bit okay {laughs}. It really inspired me and I considered myself very lucky.

Have you featured any international artiste in any of your song so far?

I featured Hamy Sultan from Morocco and DSM from Zimbabwe. We met in Nigeria for the AFRIMA award. But if I’m to do any collaboration with a Nigerian act, it will be Waje. She has been a great support, always encouraging me on my social media and I also follow because she is a nice woman and I like her type of music. She knows exactly what she is doing, she is real. Most of us should look up to women like that, so I will love to do collaboration with her. But for now, I’m just concentrating on my brand. Though collaboration is not bad, you have to be careful, so that your song is not diluted. But I’ve featured quite a number of artistes here in Ghana and we are working on some of the videos.

What was the experience like for you when you visited Nigeria?

I didn’t go round because I was lodged in this nice hotel, Eko Hotel. It was just beautiful. I enjoyed Nigeria a lot, especially the food. I love the eba, pounded yam and the snails, so similar to what I eat in the Northern part of Ghana where I come from. I can survive very well in Nigeria if I happen to marry a Nigerian (laughs). I love the lifestyle and culture of the Northerners there because it is similar to mine, just some language difference.

Are in a relationship?

Oh yes! I love to keep my love life private because it’s not everything I know about my fans too (laughs)

Who is your ideal man?

I like men that are understanding and not too controlling. He can be jealous a little bit (laughs) because I enjoy attention. But since I’m not married yet, I rather keep that aspect private. For now, I’m still studying the man. It’s my private life and that’s just it.

What informs your hair style?

I had long hair, it made me look attractive. So, I just decided to cut it and try this look which fits me perfectly.

What is your advice for those that are still chasing their dreams?

My brothers and sisters, be yourself, don’t copy. Learn from other people but be yourself, if not, you will be promoting another person. If you are a loud person and you talk a lot, then talk a lot. If you are funny, keep being funny because that is what makes you who you are. If you are the type of person who doesn’t take nonsense, don’t take it. Trying to be what you are not is very expensive.

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