“How A Man Convinced Me to Dump Acting for Music in 1987”-Traditional Music Singer, Ayo Ewebiyi’s Exclusive
Ayobami Ewebiyi is a well-known Nigerian actress cum traditional singer who has been making waves for over 2 decades. She is the founder of Mama Oriki & Her Alayo Voices Int’l Band. The Ewi exponent and Gospel/Juju folk song had exclusive interview with GBOLAHAN ADETAYO where she revealed to us how she started acting when she was an undergraduate at the University of Lagos among other interesting issues you need to know about her. Excerpts:
Can you tell us more about yourself?
I’m Ayobankale Ewebiyi, a traditional singer which I do with any type of Yoruba language and I have performed virtually everywhere in Nigeria, and other neighboring countries where they speak the language. I started singing gradually from my higher institution. When I got to the University of Lagos, I studied Creative Arts also known as Theatre Arts at other Universities, but my major area which I focused on was acting. Then, I didn’t really have much interest in music because each time we are receiving lectures I focused only on acting and ignore music. It was a big surprised to me when I met a man who discovered the talent in me. Normally, I sing when I am working at home and he told me that I can sing better. His name is Olalekan Odunitan and that was in 1987.
Why did you now dump acting for music?
I didn’t really drop my interest in acting, there is no day you call me to act that I will be panicking, and it is an inborn thing. No matter how good you are in all ramifications, one will surely supersede another. I am constant in acting, you will see me in a film called House 22 where I played the role of the landlady, but music is something that have quietly been in me which I didn’t know. If you have the talent, one day you need to touch that area, it will trigger it out and since that day I started singing, I have been having more interest in it. More so, my kind of music is different from the regular music we see every day. It is not the type of music you see us doing at any how event, any event you see us, just believe that it is a classic one.
Having being told that you can sing how did you now discover and developed it within yourself?
Esa and Ijala chants are songs, the person told me to chant about Songo, and he said I should say Ayarana when he says Olukoso but the way I said it with my sonorous voice was very interesting and that was all. I kept picking interest in it. I know that acting is always in me, so I focus my attention on music now because I can still come back to acting any time any day. The journey has been very rosy since that 1987 I started.
Do you have any album so far?
I have done several albums including the one I titled Good Morning Eledumare, Ojo Igbeyawo which featured Alhaji Sefiu Alao, and the third one is called Mofi Ayobere Odunyi and I am currently working a new one which will hit the shelves soon.
How come these are albums are everywhere like other music acts?
Not that it was restricted but I will say it wasn’t circulated according to my expectation. And that is how it has been since God created the world. If five artistes release albums at the same time and one goes viral, the credit will be given to the marketer not the artiste himself. I sing traditional folk art and it obviously met for some people who understand the language and the meaning of the song. When I released Good Morning Olodumare, it went viral but the marketer didn’t distribute it to some area. So, I put the blame on my marketer.
Share with us about your background?
The name Ewebiyi that I bear is the name of my forefathers, his mum had problems in giving birth and a special concoction was prepared for her with a particular leaf after everything, she had a baby and that was why they named the baby Ewebiyi. I wasn’t born from an herbalist family.
You look more like Ekiti woman, where are you from?
I am not in any way related to Ekiti. Looking at the marks in my face you will know that I am not one of them because this is not the type of theirs. I am from Ibadan. I speak many Yoruba languages because if I can speak English fluently, then what stops me from speaking my language ignoring the fact that I am not from that tribe.
What is happening to your acting career?
Nothing much, it is pretty fine, I acted very well and I also released series of movies. My first story I scripted was titled “Ileke” literaily means Bead, and after that I produced Nani Daddy, Awerejaye and just immediately after the shooting, I had a break before I now bounced back with Orun Ayo, Gangan, Ota,Wura Aje and the latest one I just shot in America is tittled Osun Dagbonu in America which I am now here in Nigeria to shoot the concluding part.
What is it all about?
I used a white woman as the lead character; it also features Ara Osan, myself and many more. I am yet to determine who and who to feature in the concluding part. After the finishing, I may not release the film; I will just be touring cinemas with it.
If it hit the shelves today, you will see it in 13-in-1 the following day, and it sold for N100 and if I must sell it, I can’t sell it less than N1000 per copy because I know how much I spent on it.