by Renate Dzodzomenyo
Here are certain moments in our lives which are priceless, fulfilling and sealed by their unforgettable, unique and precious qualities. A successful day filled with laughter and joy on set with the Ghanaian songstress Efya and her hard working team was one such moment. Her creativity, skills, values and humility are always reflected in everything she does. She was at ease telling us all about her life, family, career and her future plans.
Having been nominated and billed to perform in this year’s World Music Awards, Efya felt very excited and privileged. Though she felt nervous about it, she is determined to give one of the best performances of her lifetime.
The beautiful, sleek, sexy, and stunning Efya is also set to move the country with her much anticipated album titled “Love Genesis”. The album includes emotional pieces which re-visit heartbreak experiences in her life. The album will hit the scenes within the year, followed by a nationwide tour.
What makes her distinctive is her style of singing – she sings with such passion and virtuosity, that one cannot help but be swept along into her mood. Ultimately, she is one woman whose talent and passion is going to spur her on in her pursuit to becoming a music legend in Africa.
I asked Efya, “Why do you think you were selected to perform at the World Music Awards out of all the other African nominees and artist and also if it has any influence on you?” Her response! “ I’m guessing but I think my music and style stuck out. Whatever it is, I’m truly grateful for it.” The news about my performance at the World Music Awards made me feel that what I do is remarkable enough to be noticed, not only in Ghana but also globally, which means a lot to an artist. It also gives me a lot more confidence to keep doing what I do.
She has certainly come a long way since competing in the Ghanaian music talent show, ‘Stars of the Future’ in 2008, where she was the first runner up. Her music career has soared since then.
one can’t speak of Efya without referring to the mighty African celebrity she performed with – Hugh Masekela. His tribute to her after sharing a stage with her goes like this “…but she was fantastic; the things she did were like medieval and artistes like that need a medieval setting. See, an artiste like Efya needs her own club. The way Fela had the shrine … she needs her own place where she can do this stuff,”
She won ‘Best Female Vocalist’ four times at the Ghana Music awards. Some of her hit singles, ‘Best in Me’, ‘Little Things’, ‘The Gateway’ and many others made her the best female artist in Ghana and abroad. Her latest song, ‘Forgetting Me’ was released on January 11 2014 at the +233 club/lounge in Accra. She also won best female video at the 4syte Awards in 2013. She is the youngest artist to have picked up an award at the last City People Awards in Nigeria.
We asked her; who is Efya? She answered, “ Errrm, a young girl, trying to make money, and who likes singing. Basically, she is eclectic, and she likes black”. That’s her favourite colour and she’ll wear it all the time.
Her uniqueness is definitely what sets her apart and ahead in the music industry. This uniqueness has opened doors for her to play countless gigs across Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, USA, Uganda, South Africa and many other countries.
If you are looking for words that describe Efya then go for Eclectic, fashionable, stylish, funny, fun loving, lovely, friendly with a great sense of humour and an easy-going person.
The 26 year-old eccentric singer also known as Jane Fara Fauzzier Afia Boafowaa Yahaya Awindor was born in Kumasi on April 10th. Efya has two brothers and a half sister. She grew up having all she wished for, so much so that, it was rumoured that she was the only child of her parents. Oh! That was indeed just a rumour.
Efya’s childhood life was spent mostly with her mum and grandparents. Her mum Mrs. Awindor, the famous celebrated TV host of ‘Greetings From Abroad’ spent most of her time working so Efya grew up staying with family members.
From when she was about ten years old, Efya mostly lived with her mum at Ashongman Estates for about eleven years, and later moved to East Legon. She attended the University of Ghana, where she studied Theatre Arts and Directing. Efya also had the opportunity to travel a lot around the world with her mum.
Efya spends most of her time at home with her committed team working to churn out those beautiful songs.
More and more, it has become obvious that many famous artistes start their careers singing at church and Efya is no exception. She started singing at the Assemblies of God Church in Ashongman Estate when she was very young, and she gives the church a lot of credit for giving her the platform to demonstrate her singing ability.
According to Efya, her focus on her singing career propelled her into the ‘stars of the future’. She does not take opportunities for granted; not only does she grab them, but she holds on and makes a great success out of them. She had happened to chance on the audition of the ‘stars of the future’ contest, and recalls; “…I didn’t know of it but somebody asked me to go and try it out that day because they know I love singing”. She has never looked back since then!
Her life is filled with music, peace, serenity and a sense of purpose. She shares her passion with her fans and gives them the unexpected beyond their expectation. Her songs get you shaking your body consciously, unconsciously and uncontrollably. I am yet to meet anyone listening to an Efya track and not be carried along with the passion with which she delivers them.
Efya, then known as Jane, sang with Irene Logan who won the ‘stars of the future’ competition. Her experience in the competition gave her the leverage to aspire to greater heights in her career.
A mix-tape compiled over the years have all become hit songs, often confusing people into thinking she has an album. “We’re going to put out an album next year; we’re also putting all our single hits on a mix. Like this one you’re seeing here. It’s called, THIS IS NOT THE ALBUM”, she says with a knowing smile. According to her, she has chosen that title because indeed, even though it is not an album but rather a mix tape, it is easy to think of it as an album instead.
Efya has put a lot of time and energy into producing an album, but she strategically came out with the mix tape first in order not to flood the market at a go with all her productions. The mix tape has hit songs like ‘The Best In Me’, ‘The Little Things That You Do’ as well as all the singles recorded over the years.
Her long awaited album, ‘Love Genesis’ is set to be released this year, and is sure to make a hit all over the world. ‘Love Genesis’ talks a lot about love and the beginning of her journey. “It’s still the beginning for me because it’s my very first album”, she said. ‘Love Genesis’ has nothing to do with her personal love life experience, but a lot of different experiences from different perspectives in life. “You know, when you talk about love, you’re talking about pain, hate, success and all the other emotions in between. It attributes a lot of stuff to love… It cuts across”, she giggled.
We asked her why Efya has become such a household name in East and South Africa. Her response! “This is awesome because it’s not just about West Africa. You have to take over the whole continent. So if you are extending and expanding, and people love you from the other side, it means you’re doing a good job”.
The music industry is still growing, though it is work in progress with new entrants coming onto the scene to make it even better. Significant investments are being made in the industry, and a serious artiste stands to make a significant impact, become a legend and also make a sizeable amount of money to support others.
According to Efya, “it’s all about commitment and respect for the job. Plan your career well and you will be happy with the outcome”. I believe this is good advice for upcoming artistes in the music industry.
It is very normal to face challenges in any career.
Efya was obviously no exception, listening to her recount the difficulties she encountered in getting good managers to help manage her from the start. But with her determination, passion and family’s teachings she prevailed.
“I managed myself for two years. After Charter House, I was in school but managed to maintain my level in the music industry. I had no manager but I was able to go through because I planned and organized my time well”.
Her description of her experience in managing herself got me laughing out loud! “It was cool; you just have to book your show and you don’t really have to split your money with anybody”.
“No! I moved around with a lot of people and learnt so much from them and also from Charter House who used to manage us; so I had a format, and I was well equipped for it. Everything is about branding. We’re working on branding and social responsibility; that’s giving back to society what society gave you; and then a lot of tours here and there”.
Having travelled around the world and lived with different people, Efya is able to adapt wherever she finds herself, and is able to live and work with diverse groups of people without any difficulties.
Efya has a great philosophy in life. What you think about her is not her business and she would not try to find out what people think of her. “If people accept me for who I am, that is fine; and if they don’t, I can’t force them to. People judge and that’s life but when they get closer and get to know the real you, you are cool with them. Some people approach me with a mind already formed to make me feel bad. You know what I’m saying? Some people are rude when I’ve not given them any attitude at all. I calm down and my attitude isn’t serious”.
The songbird’s lyrics are inspired by experiences of life. “Everybody goes through the good and bad sides of life at a point. You narrate it in order to connect with the people who listen to your songs. It’s always about being able to connect with somebody through the lyrical outpouring of your music; yes, that’s all about it”.
She has been compared with some international artistes or celebrities out there like Whitney Houston, Indie Array and many others, though she goes purely African. To Efya it’s all about the ‘African Dream’. “If am able to take over Africa, the world is going to know me anyways. Africa is a really big continent; it’s not small in any way. So if I’m able to extend my wings and be that African Girl that everybody in Africa loves, I think I would be good to go”.
Efya is known for her fabulous outfits on the red carpet. Though she would love to have Kim Kardashian’s closet, she loves to always go Afrocentric. “I love to represent my continent when I travel outside and it’s good; it’s different and they don’t have it there. I would not travel there and wear Dolce & Gabbana. The African designers are very amazing right now. And when you wear the African print there, they want to have it at any cost”. Her favourite designers are many and some are Duaba Serwa, Clan, Deola Sagoe, Wana Sambo, Papa Oppong, Re Bahia, Iamisigo and Lee London. She has four stylists and Efya always looks stunning wherever she goes and is very grateful to all her designers.
The music industry in Ghana is growing bigger and she is right to have said the music industry is expanding and growing at the same time. We’re getting the format and in the next three years, we’ll be on top of our game. She is here to make music part of her life for as long as she can.
To all the men out there, guess what? Efya is single but…
The rumour that she is dating Sarkodie ends here because she opened up to confirm they are just good friends and that they sang together. ‘’I think that’s what sparked the rumour mill. I’m in a relationship right now, but I don’t have a boyfriend. I’m just trying to make money. Nowadays in our generation, relationships are weird. Unless you find someone who loves you and you love him too; I don’t like the drama, cheating and heartaches that go with it”.
Efya and Becca are very good friends and they get along well. Like a big sister to Efya, she is a lot to look up to and she has done a lot for herself. She’s a source of encouragement to her, and they are cool. Therefore the rumour that they don’t get along because they are battling each other as to who is the best female artist, is very ridiculous.
My happy mood changed with her response to my question as to whether she makes lots of money from singing in Ghana. Her response was not encouraging at all. To Efya, she is paid better outside Ghana. “You can’t get paid $50,000.00 for a show here in Ghana”. I jumped in …but Chris Brown was paid $1,000,000.00. “That’s Chris Brown. They wouldn’t pay that to a Ghanaian artiste”, she said. “It’s all about your level as a musician or entertainer or performer. It’s ok, we’ll get there; that’s why I’m working hard”, she said positively. “In Nigeria, Liberia and South Africa, they pay their artistes really fat money”. We have to do better than this, I whispered to myself. We have to celebrate our own and cherish them. Are you going to charge higher after performing at the World Music Awards? “Most definitely! (Laughs) management has not really decided yet but I expect it since we are going higher. The rate might go higher too.”
Even though she can’t tell how much they pay the other artistes here in Ghana, she admits she makes sure she is well paid and does not allow anybody to take advantage of her. But it’s obvious it is still better outside.
With so much talent and skills, one should be ready for something intriguing from Efya. She is always at home either recording her freestyle in her in-house studio, or painting as a hobby; she simply has so much potential.
Having studied directing, and having appeared in the movie ‘Married and Single’ produced by Yvonne Nelson, Efya has the passion in producing her own movies than in acting.
Winning all the awards the world has to offer, and giving back to society is what Efya is working hard to achieve in the next five years.
Efya, you’re an inspiration and I am honoured to have met you. Thank you for making time for me. We wish you the best as we celebrate ‘Love Genesis’