GOING by her performances and singing prowess at the Davido album launch and Summer Jam Fest featuring Rick Ross, held at the weekend, Nigerian UK-based singer, Oluwaseyi Joshua, famously known as Seyi Shay, will definitely go a long way in the Nigerian music industry. Signed by one of the biggest labels in the country, Flytime Entertainment, the sonorous songstress told ENCOMIUM Weekly why she returned to Nigeria after successfully working with internationally super stars like Jamelia, Chipmunk, Beyonce, etc.
Tell us about your growing up.
I was born in London, United Kingdom. I schooled in Nigeria at Command School, Ikeja, Lagos, throughout my primary years then Queens College, Onike, Yaba, Lagos for three years before I went back to the UK.
When did you start music professionally and what inspired it?
I would say it all started like fun. I went on a Christmas tour with London community gospel choir to Japan. When I returned to UK, I told my mom that I wanted to be a singer for the rest of my life because I enjoyed the performance during the tour. I wrote my first released song at 17 entitled, You will see for Mel C of the Spice Girls. This led me to write three other songs that were released on the Konami Game Crime Life. I continued to write songs with my best friend at the time, Harmony (H-money). We worked with many UK artists, writing songs for the likes of Jamelia, Chipmunk, which featured Collena of Dirty Money and so on. I later joined a girls group where I became the lead singer and we got signed to Matthew Knowles, Beyonce’s dad, who took us onto many platforms. We toured with Beyonce in 2009/10, we produced our debut album entitled, Breaking from above, in 2011 and also presented the MTV EMA Awards to Bruno Mars. We currently have a reality show in 166 countries worldwide also entitled Breaking from above.
Why did you decide to come home, knowing full well that the industry is saturated?
I decided to come to Nigeria because my heart has always been there. I have been coming every year since the age of 4 with my mom. Even after she died in 2006, I continued coming. Sound Sultan persuaded me that Nigeria is the best place to promote my music if I want to be true to myself. He told me I would be freer and not have to compromise myself on anything. I was fed up of singing empty pop music with girls that were not really singers. I wanted more fulfillment, so, now I’m here hoping to be one of those that take Nigerian music globally in a big way. I just wonder why I never took this bold step earlier. With my experience, knowledge and networks, I believe it’s only a matter of time.
What was your mom’s perception of your singing career before she died? What about your dad?
For years, my mom did not know I was as serious about music as I am. I only wished she was still alive to see all I have done and still doing. I started this because I wanted to provide for her in the greatest way but she has done. I do this because I want to share my experience and be a good example to people. I want to serve people by entertaining them and making them smile and dance or sing. I never lived with or grew up with my dad. He lives in Nigeria. My mom worked to support her children in the UK. It was very hard for blacks back then in London. I never got to see her much, my greatest pain is that she is no longer here so that she could work less and I could provide for her.
What song are you promoting?
We are currently promoting Irawo and Loving your way. Go to Youtube for video and type in Seyi Shay Loving your way. It is currently on all music channels in Nigeria and MTV.
What is the uniqueness of these two singles you are promoting compared to myriad of songs we hear every day in Nigeria?
The uniqueness is in the style and conviction I put into the performance of these two albums. I used a lot of vocal harmonies and vocal production with adlibs and vocal acrobats that I can safely say are unique to only me.
What type of song do you do?
I sing and write ‘popular music’. My favourite type of music is soul –Chaka Khan, Al Green, Tina Turner, Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, John Legend, Music Soul Child, Bilal, Frank Ocean, Jill Scott, India Irk and the list goes on.
Tell us how you met Cecil Hammond of Flytime.
Sound Sultan introduced me to him. They wanted to work with me on a joint venture.
So, how has it been with the limited time you have been under Flytime?
It’s been great! They are my family, my rock and my dream come true. They gave me everything I need to become a success nationally and internationally. We share one vision and that makes working with them so easy. They gave me so much creative control unlike my last label. No creative control. No say on what happens, when, where or how, always having to water down my passion because of other girls and sometime the company could not perceive the visions.
Where are the girls now?
They are in the UK, thinking about the next step. We are all doing our own thing.
With all this arsenal, do you envisage a setback?
I don’t envision it, but I’m aware and prepared for it. I have been through many of them but it has only made me stronger and more determined.
- This story was first published in ENCOMIUM Weekly on Tuesday, September 4, 2012