Nigerian singer Waje has been in Nairobi, Kenya for the fourth season of Coke Studio Africa to further her desire to collaborate with other African artists and to expand her audience to the rest of the continent.
In the new season, which will be her third appearance on the show, the Nigerian diva has been paired with Ivory Coast’s Serge Beynaud to record a new theme song for the popular show. The resulting collaboration will be produced by Ugandan producer Bushingtone, a long-time collaborator of Radio and Weasel.
'Breaking barriers and entering new territories'
Speaking to Music In Africa in Nairobi recently, Waje revealed her desire to continue exploring the African sound and breaking into new territories.
Even though she has been on Coke Studio more than once, Waje says she is grateful for the opportunity to build her brand every year and learn more about what other artists are doing around the continent. “I look forward to exploring and discovering other sounds from around the continent," she says. "I want to push myself to new horizons."
Waje reckons that her pairing up with Serge is a great thing as she is inspired by the energy the Ivorian star exudes in his songs. “His songs are very energetic. I want to maintain this strength and energy, moreso because of the cultural significance his songs have," she explained.
Guided by the show's focus this year on 'discovering' Africa’s music and culture, Waje says the continent's music has grown to a point that fusion is key. Looking at Coke Studio as one way for her to collaborate with outstanding artists in the African music sector, Waje explains: "I found out that the Coupé-Décalé dance itself is a movement in Ivory Coast. I want to maintain that message. For me it’s about breaking barriers and entering into new territories. With my collaborations at the show I want to send a message to the world, for the platform offers a chance to tell the world that though I am a Nigerian artist, on a greater level I am an African artist who has respect for where our music is coming from and where it is headed to.”
'We need to maintain our traditional instruments'
She also called for African musicians to return to the indigenous instruments of their countries. Noting that every country has various instruments that are significant to the nation’s culture, Waje is concerned that these instruments are no longer part of the music that is coming out of Africa.
“I believe that we need to maintain our traditional music instruments," she says. "With the current generation, because we always looked to the West for inspiration, we ended up abandoning our musical instruments and relegated them to the background, forgetting that we can creatively look for a way to fuse them in our music. We need to find ways to bring these instruments back so that our children and the generations to come are able to learn about the genesis of our music and how we got to where we are now."
Mentoring young talent
Born Aituaje Iruobe, Waje emerged on the Nigerian music in 2007 while still a student at university. In 2013 she released her self-titled debut album.
When not in studio or on stage, Waje is involved in various projects that aim to build the music sector in her country. Recently, alongside other Nigerian stars 2Baba, Patoranking and Timi Dakolo, Waje was one of the mentors on the Nigerian edition of the talent search The Voice, where she mentored four aspiring artists - one of whom, Agharese Emokpae (popularly known as A'rese) emerged as the winner.
Although her participation in The Voice was by chance, Waje says she will continue to mentor A'rese. “After listening to A'rese and watching her grow throughout the competition, the whole process made me realize that it would be great for me to invest in someone," she says, adding: "Investment doesn’t really mean money; investing knowledge is also important.”
In 2015 Waje collaborated with fellow Nigerian artist Patoranking on the single ‘Left for Good’. She is currently working on a new album.
Waje's collaborator on Coke Studio Africa, Serge Beynaud emerged on the Ivorian musical scene in 2007 as a producer before transitioning to a performing artist. In 2012 he released his debut album, Only God, to much acclaim and success. His rise to fame was cemented by a 2012 concert at the Palace of Culture in Abidjan, where he filled 5000 seats. He is regarded as one of the artists to have kept Coupé-Décalé thriving in Ivory Coast.
Coke Studio Africa is a non-competitive show that seeks to bring together and showcase the diversity of Africa's musical talent. It also gives upcoming artists the opportunity to work with established performers and producers. For more details visit the show's website.