Afro soul sensation, Deborah Lawal, popularly known as Kayefi Osha, spares us a whole 120 seconds, revealing these snapshots of her life and music…
Kayefi Osha! So, what’s your story?
I never knew (that) I would do music professionally, growing up I (had) wanted to study law and go into practice, and singing was just a hobby. People always told me that I had a good voice and I could sing. I think I (kind of) took it for granted then. All I knew was that I loved to sing: I would do solo performances for my church at competitions (aged) 10 and the audience would be wowed. People started to look out for me at church concerts where my church was invited. I earned names like “Celine Dion” “Small body big engine”, the latter because of my slight build. I was also the leader of the Yoruba cultural group from primary school (St Nicholas Private School, Ikeja) to secondary school (Opebi grammar School). I quit in my final year because i thought I had grown bigger than tying wrapper on my chest… (laughs). I later joined a theatre group under Agege Local Government where I played major roles as a singer and an actress. I wrote my first song when I was 14. I called it “Lonely Minutes” which I never recorded. So here I am with my dream of becoming a lawyer not completely forgotten but on hold and now doing music full time.
Who is the singular most important influence on your music?
Angelique Kidjo (Grammy Award-winning Beninese singer-songwriter and activist, noted for her diverse musical influences and creative music videos).
Describe your childhood…
I am the first child of my parents, I have 3 other siblings, two boys and a girl. My mother was a disciplinarian, a no-nonsense woman. I remember one time that I was asked to sing at church and I was acting up, she gave me the beating of my life right in front of the congregation. My dad has always been my friend, I was closer to my father growing up, and he knew all my secrets. As a matter of fact when I had my first period while my mum was telling me I would get pregnant if any man touched me, it was my dad that told me exactly what it was. I am close to all of my siblings especially my sister Maria who is also a designer. Our house was located in the middle of a market at Moshalashi Alhaja where kids got pregnant at age 12 and teenagers ran away from home. It is now that I wonder how my parents were able to train us to be the way we are now, it must have been really difficult, I just knew that my parents always forbade us to go out of the house, we were always indoors and my siblings and I were the only friends we had at home. I was very active at school, I was the head girl of my set in primary school and I was the social prefect of my set in secondary school. Growing up was so much fun.
Take us into the future. Where, musically, do you want to be in 10 years?
Hmmmmm. I hoped to have reached about 60 to 70% of the world with my music, representing my country Nigeria and Africa as a whole.
Tell us about your current projects…
I am still releasing singles and working on videos for my songs. I am presently working with IDCABASA and PUFFYTEE
Okay. You’ve just won an award for musical excellence. Do us an ‘OSCAR’ speech!
An Oscar Speech. Hmmmmm. OK. “I would like to thank God for this award, the organizers for this platform of recognition and my fans for your devotion and support. It is such an encouragement for me and also a motivation to do more and not to ever quit. Dreams do come true if you believe. Thank you.” (So), how did I do?
Which global star do you want to duet with and why?
Lauryn Hill. She’s so deep and her voice always wows me
What inspires Kayefi Osha?
Anything and everything. From the ceiling fan to the carpets. Anything. Situations, the environment, anything…
Tell us your experience of playing to a major audience. How did you feel?
It was at “Rhythm Unplugged” in Abuja. My heart was beating so fast during the first 60 seconds and I forgot myself in the next minute until the applause of the audience brought me back and I was almost crying.
Do you write most of your songs? If so, are you more of a singer or more of a writer?
Yes I write most of my songs myself though I hope to work with songwriters in the nearest future. I think I’m something of both. I can’t really say. I like the process of writing especially when the words start to fit in to form a message that is strong and deep. I do love singing! **wink**.
What song you have written is your favourite, and why?
OJEJE. Why? Because I wrote for my late mother
What celebrity singer is your favourite?
Artistes are forever getting political? What is your view? In support or against?
I am fully in support. It is the intentions that matter. If even your music cannot have a positive effect on people and their way of living, what is the assurance that your tenure as a politician will, especially in a country like Nigeria?
Favourite TV show: None. I watch a lot of shows, depending on my mood
Zodiac sign: Gemini
Relationship status: Married
Favourite shopping grounds: None. I shop anywhere according to my immediate need(s).
Your most expensive spend (lately): Makeup.
Your guilty pleasures (Chocolates? Shoes? Make-up? Shopping?): All of the above.
Favourite food and drink: Amala with Gbegiri and Ewedu, and bush-meat. (Fav drink) Chapman
Words: (arranged by) SMF. Images by Kayode Samuel