Wiyaala is a rising international recording artist who just released her new single, "Make Me Dance," October 7th as an iTunes exclusive along with an acoustic version of the song. She is the face of the IGNITE! Ghana project - a cultural education project which aims to endorse traditional Ghanaian music and dance culture in schools. Her brand new EP will be released late 2013 and an LP is in the works set for 2014 release.
1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? Even when I was a very small girl, I was a performer. I didn’t know then that God had given me a talent for performing, but I realized that I could get attention just by singing and dancing in front of people. So I just kept on doing it. My mother likes to tell the story that when I was only 4 or 5 years old, I did a performance in a bar in Tamale. Apparently, the customers enjoyed it so much, they gave my mother money. She says, I told her, "Mamma, this is how I will get money when I grow up." Getting money for performing is very inspiring, if you don’t have much
2. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? I would love to do a live performance with Beyonce or Rihanna. I’m very competitive! Lol!!
3. Your newest single, "Make Me Dance," was just released. What made you want to record this song? I wrote the song in my head while I was hanging out the washing. I was feeling good about a relationship. When I took it to the studio, it just came out as something that had an international sound to it but with elements of my "African-ness." As a child I was always imitating Cher and Madonna, which I think shows in the song. After discussing this with my management, we felt "Make Me Dance" would be a good first release. Also, I wanted to show that Ghanaians can do international music as well as our more local traditional songs.
4. How do you hope your music can bridge the gap between international cultures? If I can get my music listened to internationally, then I think I will have succeeded. I hope that international listeners would get something of Africa and where I come from. I want people to understand that we young Africans are very smart and have our own special culture to bring to the table.
5. You are an advocate for women's rights in Africa. What made you want to fight for this cause and do you ever worry that your bravery could backfire and cause you harm? Women’s rights start with education. It is through education that women can achieve equality. I have grown up in a traditional culture where wives don’t have the right to challenge their husband’s decisions. Meanwhile it is the women who are doing most of the work. These attitudes are beginning to change and you can see it happening, especially in the Ghanaian film industry where women directors and producers are becoming very influential. But this is not yet true of the music industry.
6. You just became the face of IGNITE! Ghana project, which is a cultural project aiming to endorse traditional Ghanaian music and dance culture in schools. What did it mean to you to become the face of this project? It’s a privilege when you are invited to contribute to something which can empower or inspire young people. Those of us who are lucky enough to make good progress with our careers should give something back.
8. What have you learned about yourself from being a singer? That you are two people. One is the performer that attracts people who just love you for who you are and your performance. They are your fans and you love them back. The other person is the off-stage self when you are not in the limelight. You are just like anyone else. You laugh, you cry, you’re happy, you’re sad, you dream, you get frustrated and impatient, but in the end you must deal with yourself!
9. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? Maybe, I could just create food wherever it was needed!
When you see Wiyaala now, what you get is a personification of modern Africa: creative, brave, strong, beautiful. The singer/songwriter from the Upper West of Ghana works hard at everything she puts her mind to. Her name, Wiyaala, literally translates to "the doer" in Sissala, her tribal language in which she sings alongside English, and perfectly describes her approach to life. She is an artist, designer, actress, model, natural athlete, and an ambassador of African culture. Wiyaala is also known for standing up for women's rights, having a very distinctive androgynous image herself. She would often get called "man-woman" by the boys in grade school but would also be the first to lead the boys and girls into the bushes for wild hunts.
Wiyaala has a life-long history of pursuing her passions for performing but it was in college when she took things a step farther. In 2011 she auditioned for Ghana’s own Stars of the Future and earned her way into the finals, winning two Golden Moments awards. Her success fired the drive to perform even harder, which led her to enter the Vodafone Icons Mixed Edition music reality show where she took first place with her then group, Black n Peach. Wiyaala certainly won’t be stopped - creatively or personally. It is rumored that she can even climb a full sized coconut tree...
The future for Wiyaala will see her breaking down all barriers to the international music market. Wiyaala is indeed, "The Young Lioness of Africa."