UNDISPUTABLE juju queen, Ayo Balogun opens up to ENCOMIUM Weekly like never before when we had a one-on-one encounter with her in her Ilupeju, Lagos office on Tuesday, June 6, 2010.
The Ilesa, Osun State female crooner divulged on several issues revolving around her career and personal life including her latest album, the accident that claimed one of her bad member’s life, challenges facing the industry as a whole.
Can you tell us the latest about your career?
I give thanks to Almighty God, my career is moving on fine. I go to shows, get engaged often. The band itself is getting tighter by the day, the lyrics, rhythm, everything is improving in no small measure. I thank God for everything.
What is the latest about your much publicized album?
I have finished recording the album, I am only waiting to have it launched very soon. Lately, I had some challenges, my band truck had an accident and one of my boys died in the accident. This has definitely weighed me down, I am still devastated. It is like the best thing to tell you now is that we are in a mourning mood because of the irreparable loss. May God be pleased with him. Then, I think after a while I will do the launching and put the album in the market.
Accept our condolence.
Thank you very much.
When is the album launch coming up?
In two months time, it would have been earlier but because of the incident that happened and I had to wait for some clarification from my promoter.
But you have kept your fans in suspense for so long concerning the release of the album, what happened?
It has not been easy playing three shows in a week and during the week you are strategizing so that things can work out as planned. That is one of the reasons that has perhaps drawn us backward a bit, but now I thank God everything is ready.
But we learnt the album passed through a lot of unsuccessful recordings?
Actually, I have completed recording a long time ago. I think you can trust someone like Laolu Akins, my producer in that field, he is a perfectionist, so the delay has nothing to do with the production.
Some people alleged lack of fund, how true is it?
That can’t be true. People are only saying what they know nothing about. Lack of funds can’t be a factor at all. That can never be my portion in Jesus name. It is something I feel comfortable doing and God has been rewarding me handsomely.
The fear of pirates is the beginning of wisdom in the music industry, what are you doing about that so that
your effort won’t end up in futility?
I think we will soon get a lot of relieve from COSON, that is Copyright Society of Nigeria led by Tony Okoroji. I really don’t want to talk much about COSON of a thing because I am not a member but I believe I am going to be a beneficiary in their goal to tackle piracy in our industry. Nigerian musicians as a whole are going to benefit a lot from it.
What of the public, can’t you sensitize them against the danger of buying pirated copies of another person’s work including music?
My comment and advice to them is just to let them understand that they are neither helping us nor doing the nation as a whole any good. They need to realize that what they are pirating is somebody’s effort, they need to have conscience. If they do, they will realize that what they are doing is not good. They too can’t enjoy the value for their money because what they have spent it on is of low quality. They don’t say because something is cheap, they have to go for it. It is cheating and it is not at all good for the progress of our industry and the nation as a whole.
You have not disclosed the title of the album and the amount it gulped?
It actually gulped a lot of money but I thank God for its successful completion. Concerning the title, I have not actually finalized that. I only penciled down two titles, they are New Rule and My Time. I will soon decide on which one that will be suitable for it.
Why are you the toast of the public, is it because of your good looks or…
Let’s give God all the glory. In Nigeria, nobody likes going for something sub-standard especially when it comes to music. Nobody will forgive us for messing up at his/her party. And you can’t afford to disgrace yourself and if they have always identified you as a disciplined and talented artist, they will always go for you. One just have to be good not the matter of having good looks.
You have played for some powerful politicians in the past and recently including Governor Oyinlola of Osun State, do you normally lobby for all these big events or they look out for you?
Sincerely I don’t need to lobby for any show and I have never lobbied for shows. It is when people know the quality of your product, they will surely call for it.
What are your high points as a musician?
My high point is when I see people responding to my music, I feel elated. It gingers me, it encourages me, it drives me on. And I am sure that is the same way it is for other musicians as well.
Since you started out decades back, when would you describe as your best moment?
I can’t really point to any for now, I have experienced a lot of beautiful moments in the course of my career. All I can say is that God has been really kind to me.
What is the secret that has perpetually made you ageless despite being in your 50s?
No other secret than God and because I try to eat well and take enough rest. I take good care of my health, my home and I don’t allow my job to disturb all these.
Your interaction with the high and mighty might have fetched you some advances from men who at times may not want to believe you’re already in your 50s, how do you cope with these?
You are not too far from being right but if you are good looking, whether old or young, men would always make advances. There is nothing wrong in that but it is now left to you to be conscious of your status as a married woman. You have to define what you’re selling, what you stand for in the society. I think I am lucky because I play for good people, I have never been harassed sexually by any man. I have no problem whatsoever.
Are you preparing any of your children to take after you as a musician?
If I see any of my children who want to be a musician, I will encourage him or her, give all my total support.
You’re privileged to have travelled abroad, how would you describe the music terrain there compared to what obtains in Nigeria?
Just as we all know, everything abroad is well organized. Even from the very day you get a show, you can easily predict what would happen but here in Nigeria, there is constant fear. If everything works from the top, we will also get there soon.
What is your advice for the young ones?
What I will only tell them is that they just have to be organized, focused. Whatever they want to do, they should put in their best because I also keep saying it, whatever is worth doing at all, it is worth doing well.
Lest we forget, you’re still the president of Association of Juju Musicians of Nigeria, haven’t you completed your second term?
You are right but our election will come up, maybe between now and the next six months. By then, the new ex-co will emerge.
But the impression out there is that you’re enjoying the comfort of the seat that is why you don’t want to quit?
That is not true at all. I am telling you emphatically I am still there because I am enjoying the support of my colleagues. They are the ones who extended my tenure and it would be wrong for me to say no. I love them all, they have been wonderful people.
When exactly will you celebrate your 53rd birthday?
By December 10, 2010, I will be 53, I am not hiding my age.
Has there been anything you have been doing that you can’t do again because of your age?
I still remain my very self, anytime, any moment. I don’t do anything that I will later regret.
What do you detest as a celebrity and as a mother?
I hate lying, I can’t lie, I detest it.
– TADE ASIFAT
- This story was first published in ENCOMIUM Weekly on Tuesday, July 13, 2010