Ghanaian singing sensation, Efya is a talented young lady who makes jazz and soul music. Efya has her own creative and electrifying way of lighting up the stage and making her fans keep asking for more. Billed to headline one of Ghana’s biggest shows, The Efya Girltalk Fair and Concert this December, she talked about her career, relationship and why Africa’s media queen, Mo Abudu, said it was a great privilege to have performed at her 50th birthday party in Lagos. She said her mother is another great woman she looks up to and also aspires to surpass her achievements to make her proud.
Tell us a bit about your childhood and family?
Growing up was very exciting for me. I had a very happy family. We used to do a lot of things together. I had one big family that did things together. We lived in my grandfather’s big house, because my mom travelled a lot, so I stayed with my grandparents and aunties mostly when I was growing up, till I moved to be with my mom. So, we had a beautiful upbringing; school and church was very important. That’s how we were brought up.
What impact did your mother’s career have on you?
Definitely, travelling around the world before I was 17 and I felt it was a good chance for me to experience a lot of exposure. Musically, I learnt a lot from festivals when I was younger, so it really helped my music and what I wanted to do. Exposure is fun, especially when you are young.
Was music something you had in mind since childhood?
I always sang since I was a child, so I wasn’t really surprised when I decided on it as a career.
And when did you go professional?
I started doing music in church at six, but professionally, at 18, and since then I’ve stayed on top of my game, winning awards, doing shows and travelling round the globe (laughs)
You got to perform at Mo Abudu’s 50th birthday in Nigeria. How was the experience for you?
Oh! That was beautiful. She is somebody that I really look up to with all her contributions to broadcasting. She is somebody I look up to, because she is one of my role models. So, I definitely was really excited to be there.
And how were you contacted for the job?
They got in touch with my manager, we talked money (laughs) and that was it. But I was really excited about it because it’s Mo Abudu we are talking about here and I think I could have it free if I was asked (laughs). And I performed lovely tunes that she requested me to perform and one of my songs. It was really lovely. After that, all the girls sang a birthday song for her. She knows my name and I was really excited about that.
It was really fun going to Nigeria. The exposure was enormous. The people appreciate my music, they understand it and they give it a chance even though it is not the genre that they are used to, but it’s great. I’ve played at shows like Lagos Jazz Series, Party in the Park and I’ve done Felabration a couple of times. I kept going and coming back to Ghana, and every time it’s a blessing. So, it’s always a blessing when I go to Nigeria.
Have you done any duet with some Nigerian artistes?
I have collaborations with Nigerian artistes. I have Budge, Lynxx, Shady on my album. Wizkid is somebody I have also worked with. I’ve a song with wizkid on his mix tape. You should check it out, it’s a reggae song. Ikechukwu and I also have a song we did together. We go to the studios and hook up with a lot of people. I’m also on Iyanya’s album.
What informed your stage name, Efya?
My management and I came together and we thought about it because we wanted to change the name from Miss Jane to something more African, and since Efya is an African name, we decided to settle with that.
Do you have role models?
Yes, I do and definitely, Angelina Kidjo is someone that I look up to. Mariam Makeba, Rihanna, Beyonce, everybody who has won over six Grammys (laughs). Basically, it’s just looking up to people you learn from, you take little things from this person or that person, but it will be a privilege to work with Jay-Z and the likes.
What are your plans towards your upcoming show, Girltalk with Efya?
Everything we are going to do at this edition of Girltalk have never been done in the past editions. It’s going to be fun, educative and intriguing. It’s all about us because men are not allowed, so we will be free to open up and talk about sensitive issues about women in a relaxed form and also get entertained while doing that. So, it’s a total package. I’m going to put my all into it. I’ve been working hard for that day. We are doing dance routines, we are singing, doing collaborations. It’s beautiful and I know it’s going to be amazing.
Is Efya in a relationship?
Because I’m busy trying to make money…I have enough love from friends and my family. I’m with somebody, but we have to start from somewhere. There is somebody that I like but I wouldn’t want to call it a relationship because I don’t want to complicate anything.
Tell us why one of your hit songs, Best in me was released in Nigeria.
Yes, we released the song on Valentine’s Day in Nigeria. And why not? Because we have done a lot of songs in Ghana and we felt it was time to give our Nigerian fans a feel of my music and that was my biggest hit so far in Nigeria. They still show the video. I was nominated for awards there and was also nominated at the MAMAS, so shout out to Buchi and my fans.
What is your advice for young girls who would want to follow your line of profession?
It’s not easy. You need to work hard, you need to be determined, and you need to have a great management.
Why do you think the public believe you and Sarkodie were an item at a point?
Every time people see a male and female on a song like that, they think they are an item. But we just hooked together musically, that’s what it is. But we are not together, he is my brother. I care about him because he is musically inclined, always on point and I love doing music with him, because whenever we come together, we make a hit. We have a new song; it’s called Jolly. We are about to release a video very soon.
What inspires you when you get on stage to entertain?
I love doing this because I feel this is the purpose for which I was put on earth. Doing music for the young and old and as long as I am alive, I won’t stop. This is what I was born to do.
If you were not a musician, what would you have been doing?
I would probably be producing movies, but I will still do that though, because I studied Theatre Production in school. We make music so we can make money and we make money so we can take care of our families. We take care of families and we take care of our people. If I make the kind of money that I dream of, I will build a film and music school in Ghana. I want to make enough money so that I can build it to the level people from outside would want to come to Ghana to study music and the likes. That is my dream, to enable children with such talent have an opportunity I didn’t have. I want to be able to develop any kind of talent that they have, be it; editing, acting, singing. Some people don’t know where they stand and they need a direction. I would love to do that for the masses. That is what will make me eternally happy, to be able to give something back in music form to my people.
Tell us the charity work that you are involved?
We do a lot of charity. Sometimes we do breast cancer awareness because I’m a woman and that’s something that really affects lots of women. Sometimes I collect things from my friends and take them to orphanages. I don’t like to make it a big deal doing charity because I feel it shouldn’t be a big deal on the media. I do it because I love to give.
Tell us one thing your fans don’t know about you?
No matter where I go in the world, I always take my own shitto (locally made Ghanaian spice) and ketchup, because Nigeria doesn’t have shitto (laughs). But really, I’m just a simple person who likes watching series and I like to free style when I’m at home. I have my recording suite next to my bedroom. I’m a really simple person, but like to make money.
– ADEBUKOLA ADENEYE-EDAH