Why waka won’t go into extinction — Salawa Abeni

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Popular waka musician, Salawa Abeni, has expressed a belief that the ‘waka’ genre of music cannot be phased out.

In an interview with Saturday Beats, she said, “If you listen to afrobeats well, you will realise that many of them are ‘taking’ our old songs, and modernising them. I believe that waka music will always be relevant.

Asked what she did differently with her style of music to get noticed, she said, “I met a lot of female musicians singing waka, though they were old enough to be my mother. They include Batile Alake, Adebukunola Ajao, Princess Adetoun ‘Oni Waka’, Mojeedat ‘Oni Waka ni Iragusin’, and Kikelom. Whenever they were performing then, they used to sit down. I started my music career at the age of 13, and being a young girl, I usually stood up to perform; likewise everyone else in my band. That was one thing I did differently in the early days to get me noticed.”

Abeni attributed her success and fame to God, saying, “It is not by my making, it is by God’s grace.”

Assessing the current crop of artistes in the country, she said, “You know my son, Big Shef, is also an artiste. These young artistes are enjoying because their songs are typically not more than five minutes in length. The DJ would even play it for them and they sing along. In our time, we had to rub minds (with band members) and compose songs. Or, we could hire a composer. There were no DJs to play our music while we’re on stage. It was after composing songs that we would teach the backup singers, drummers and other members of the band. However, I modernised my music in 1992, by introducing piano, guitar and other instruments.”


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