Queen Salawa Abeni, creator of Waka Funky Moderniser is one of the female Yoruba musicians that cut their teeth in the industry at very early ages. She started playing music in 1974 at age 13 and within few years became a celebrity. She became so famous in the industry that in 1990, she was crowned the Queen of Waka music by a monarch. Anthonia Soyingbe recently met with this woman of substance and she opened up on her life as a single mother, her love life and on other issues. Excerpts.

For sometime now you have not released any album to the market, what is responsible for this?

Our economy is not favourable and piracy is affecting the industry, but I am working on an album. Music practitioners are trying to curb the activities of these pirates. We hope and pray that they will be eradicated from the industry. I am very optimistic that we will conquer them because we labour hard for all we do. It baffles me when I see my album in the market before I release it to the market. That shows you the extent these pirates can go. I don’t know where the loophole comes from, but I am very optimistic that we will overcome.

What project are you working on?

I am working on a new album.

What is it all about?

You just wait till I release it to the market.

You started at age 13, how many albums have you released since then and how did it all begin?

I have been on stage since 36years back. It is really God’s gift and then I love to listen to King Sunny Ade’s song. I always admire my lovely dad, Dr. Sikiru Ayinde Barrister. Back then I would listen to their music. Just because of these two great men, I decided to become a musician. I experienced lots of obstacles before I attained this height, but God in his infinite mercy stood by me. I naturally love all brands of music.

36years on the stage, you are quite famous. Aside the fame what else have you benefited from your career in music?

People admire me because I started very early and in the 70s I was so popular. I want to use this medium to appreciate journalists in all media, because they helped me in my career through their publications either positively or negatively. I am a role model to some people and I appreciate God for this.

When you informed your parents about your passion for music, what was their reaction?
My father kicked against it because he felt that the profession was for the wayward. People then believed that music was for miscreants in the society, but today everybody wants to sing and that is a good development in the industry.

At that age you ought to have been in school…

I was in school but I had passion for music. At a point in time I dropped out of school, because my parents did not have the means to send me to school. I came to Lagos 30years back.

Was there any form of gender discrimination then in the music industry?

I was very lucky when I started, because people were attracted to me then. They all treated me like their baby. I experienced some challenges but at the end of it all I came out victorious.

How and when did you come about the title Queen?

It was the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Adeyemi Lamidi that crowned me as the Queen of Music in 1990. We have other queens in the industry, but I was crowned by this great monarch.

Will you say that the title has contributed in any way to your musical career?

Not really because anybody can become a King or a Queen in the music industry, but the audience knows your worth. I value the title because it was bestowed on me by a great king. Anybody can call himself or herself anything but people know your worth.

We now see you acting in Yoruba movies, why is it so?

We are colleagues and partners in progress. I am not just acting because of the money but I am acting because we (actors and musicians) are all friends. If I need help from them in shooting my musical video I am sure they will gladly come. We reciprocate kind gestures.

Has any of your children taken after you in music?

They all love music but they don’t do my kind of music. My last child raps and he still schools at the University of Lagos (UNILAG). They all have music flowing in their blood, because their parents are musicians. My son in Canada whenever he picks my call he greets me with songs and I call him oko mi (my husband).

Why do you call him ‘my husband’? Is it because his father is no longer with you?

I call them (children) my husband because really they are my husbands. I often tell women not to look at their husband’s attitude rather they should face their children because their children are their joys.

You so much value education. Is it because you never had education and are you getting the support of the father of your children in financing your children’s education?

Well, I won’t say much about the financing of the education, because I am not ready for any media war now. I value education because I was disadvantaged. I cherish education so much and I am ready to go to any length to finance my children’s education. I don’t know who is paying the money all I know is that I am a single parent.

How is life being a single parent?

I won’t deceive you my dear sister, I don’t wish this for my enemy. It comes with lots of challenges but I am eternally grateful to God for my wonderful children because aside being their mother I am also their friend. When they were much younger I had problem taking care of them and in handling my career but things have changed now because they are now grown up. I had three boys and a girl, but I lost a boy when he was 17years old. I almost became a lunatic when the incidence happened, but I have handed over everything to Almighty Allah. I don’t want to talk about what led to the separation between their father and I, because lots of water had passed under the bridge and God has healed me of some certain things. I have moved on with my life. We separated exactly on December 8, 1990, and we have both moved on with our lives.

You sounded as if you are still nursing some pains about the separation…

Pains after 20years? No, I have moved on with my life and I don’t have time for nursing any kind of pain.

Are you still friends?

We have never been enemies. It is you journalists that blew the whole situation out of proportion, but I still love journalists for who they are. We are both mature now than we were when we found ourselves in that situation and we were quite young then. To be honest with you, he is the father of my children and I am the mother of his children. That is the only thing that binds us.

Are you sayinag that the separation came up because you both were young then?

I told you and I want to repeat it that I don’t want to talk about it anymore. Please let us talk about something else.

You still look good, I am sure men will be dying to have you, is there any man in your life?

Yes I have a friend and we are into a relationship.

Who is the lucky man? Is he in the limelight?

I don’t want to disclose his identity, but we are fond of one another.

Will the relationship lead to marriage?

I don’t know.