Born Aituaje Aina Vivian Ebele Iruobe in the Benin Kingdom, this young and gifted singer once sang gospel tunes to the delight of the late Bishop Benson Idahosa of the Word of Faith Church, Benin. This damsel said in this interview with Reporter, Gbenga Bada, how every exceptional thing that has happened to her occurred because of her ability to sing. Popularly known as Waje on the Nigerian music scene, this lady behind the remake of P-Square’s ‘Omoge Mi’ and the female voice in P-Sqaure’s ‘Do Me’, spoke on various issues ranging from her growing up days to her age old plan to be a recording artiste.
Your singles are getting rotational airplay. Tell us about it.
To be sincere with you, it’s been nice. I mean, after the duet with P-Square and not appearing in the video has helped me give a face to the voice that many had always loved and admired. I go to a couple of places and people now recognise me and it’s actually lovely and fun knowing that people actually identify with my kind of song and person.
How did you meet the P-Square brothers?
I met them at a show in Enugu, where I used to stay before moving down to Lagos because I schooled in Nsukka. I was invited to perform at a show as a struggling artiste trying to make headway. It was there that I met them after my performance and they kept on showering me with accolades, telling me that they liked my voice. Before then I had been their fan especially with their song, ‘Omoge Mi’. Later, I saw the video of their song, ‘Omoge Mi’ and I decided to do the remake and when I did, I sent it to them and they put it on their ‘Busybody’ album and that was how we became friends and that was how people started asking who the singer of the remake of their song was. When it was time for ‘Do Me’, they told me that they had a song they wanted me to feature in and that was how it started.
So, why weren’t you featured in the video?
Well, a couple of issues, part of it was my fault and others theirs. It’s basically a management thing, you know there are people who run the business side just as we do the show side of the whole thing. It was a big deal for me then to be in the video because I thought it would just blow me up but I just couldn’t avoid the situation that came with it.
How many singles do you have at the moment?
I have three singles. The first one is ‘Somewhere’, which got me nominated for Best Female Vocals at the Hip Hop World Award. ‘Kolo’ was the second and got me some more nominations. It’s been out since September last year and it has really been doing good.
Now that you have singles getting rotational airplay, how soon do we see yourself releasing an album?
In all honesty, I thought the album would be out in March but there are a lot of circumstances surrounding it and this include me being in a record company and handling some stuff myself. The album would be out as soon as you can imagine but I can tell you it would definitely not pass this year.
Are you saying you do all things by yourself despite the record deal with Dome Records?
Yes, I am signed to Dome Records but it’s a different kind of deal, it’s not a deal like every other deal. However, I am a blessed child, who has support from different people around me but it’s just me doing what I can do to push myself out record label or not. The deal is a record label deal but we still don’t have a proper structure yet in Nigeria because record companies don’t sign the kind of contracts available abroad and sometimes, when they do, it is not always realistic and you won’t know until later. But it’s just a typical contract but at the moment, it’s not a contract where I leave them to do everything because I think I am the front person here carrying the flag, in any way I can help my career to move forward.
If you are doing several things on your own, how easy then has it been for you?
It’s not easy one bit. I mean, it’s not easy at all, the truth is that God gave me the gift and talent but I’m the only one that can push myself, no one else can push me. Anybody can tell you what they think you should be doing, everybody can tell you or even paint you a very beautiful picture but it still boils down to you and the bottom line is how you get things done. If there’s nobody that can tell you how it could be done, you get it done by yourself. I have very good and close friends in the industry, I watch them, find out what they are doing, do my own little research. To be honest, I know I am going to be a success and I am just pursuing it.
When you started out, you must have painted a very good picture of how you would be getting a breakthrough, do you think you are still in line with that dream?
Yes and I can tell you it has grown bigger than I thought. First of all, when I started I was much younger and I knew that I was really building mansions in the skies in my mind. But I see clearer now. I know where I am going, the experiences and reviews that I get have moulded me into who I am today. I’m not trying to be Waje, I’m Waje, the singer who is not trying to pretend but gives you what you deserve because you are a fan. I have been able to connect with myself and my fans daily. Now, my goals are bigger than when I started.
These days, parents encourage their wards to go into entertainment because it pays. But back then when you started, what was the reception like from your parents?
My parents have supported me all the way because I have shown the trait even as a kid and they knew I would end up that way. I had an aunt, who encouraged me always to go out and do what I know how to do best. I come from a family that has supported me all the way. I am a blessed child when it comes to that regard even though I went to school and graduated from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), I was allowed to follow my dreams.
So, how did it really start?
It started in Edo, I am from Edo, my mum is Igbo and my father is Edo. I started out as a chorister in the choir. I started out very young because I attended the Bishop Idahosa Church. At the time I joined, I think I was the youngest in the choir and later I joined the praise team. Then I had a mentor, who I really looked up to and always wanted to sing like her or Whitney Houston. So at a point, I was nicknamed Whitney Houston of Word of Faith because of my drive for music. I don’t even rehearse like I used to then but I’m very grateful for what I have.
How financially rewarding has it been since you started in the music industry knowing fully well that you have performed at top government functions in Enugu and with the shows you have been performing?
I don’t think I’m at a point where I think about the monetary aspect of the industry because I am still working very hard to make my name, make myself prominent in the industry. I still need to make several financial devotion that would help me move my album forward, so, at the moment, it’s not yet time for me to count my blessings. But I count them still because God is making provision for me to do all that I’m doing.
For those who don’t know, it is believed that Waje is one with a slim figure or shape but your true figure is quite contrasting. How would you describe your figure?
We thank God but I would say, I’m a full African woman. I would just leave it at that.
What was growing up like for you in Benin?
Growing up was so much fun. I lived in GRA, it was really fun but the most remarkable of my growing up days were the little things that happened to me just because I could sing. The exceptional things that happened to me didn’t just happen because of anything but simply because I could sing. I mean, I had a scholarship all through my secondary school because I could sing. Some other kids get scholarships because of academic brilliance but for me, it was because of my singing. My growing up was very adventurous and fun.
Can you give us an instance of other things that happened to you just because you could sing or how you got the scholarship?
It happened while I was in the church, the late Bishop Idahosa was not around and my mentor, who led the choristers, was not also around. Because everyone used to see me with her, they felt I should lead the way and that was how I got up and I sang and as I was singing, Bishop Idahosa walked in and that was how my journey began. He put me in the praise team and I literarily became his child as he picked up my school fees. He catered for me all through my secondary school days and I was quite a stubborn child but the Lord was good to me.
Getting all that at a young age, didn’t it get into your head?
It’s funny because a friend of mine, who is also an entertainer and is popular, would always say I don’t know what I have because it has never gotten to a stage when I feel I have arrived. I do things that make God humble me, and it has nothing to do with my gift. You won’t believe that it was when I got to Lagos that I started realising several things that one could do with one’s talent. So, it never got to a point in my life when I allowed it to get into my head because I haven’t even gotten anywhere yet.
How long do you see yourself being a recording artiste?
It would take a long time for you to stop hearing about me just as it would take a very long time for you to stop liking or enjoying what I do. This is because it has to do with me and what I have conceived. There are loads of reasons for why people listen to songs and as far as I’m concerned, I make my songs relevant to almost all tangible reasons for anyone to want to listen to music. And I can tell you that I continually make songs that would appeal to people for different reasons. I’m an entertainer and an entertainer should be able to reinvent himself or herself every time and not do the same thing over and over again. Look at Sade Adu for instance, she just came out with an album after a decade and she’s topping the chart because she has reinvented herself. I would have released my album a long time ago but music kept evolving and I kept on evolving because I don’t want to bring out a song that would not reckon with the time we are in anymore. Babyface still writes songs and these popular singers get and sing them. So, I would remain relevant as a recording artiste for very long.
Would the tag of gospel artiste fit you?
I’m not a gospel singer, I’m rather an inspirational singer but that doesn’t mean that I won’t sing to glorify or praise God in my album. I’m not a gospel singer for personal reasons but I still sing to glorify God and won’t sing to glorify the devil or satan for any reason.