I never dreamt of becoming a singer –Yinka Ayefele
The story of popular musician, Yinka Ayefele is that of resilience, courage and lots of guts. He is no doubt one of the most celebrated musicians of all time who has not allowed his misfortune in an auto accident to weigh him down into self-pity. Rather than resort to fate, the juju-gospel singer has used his talents to put smiles on people's faces with his music.
As a celebrity, he is not immuned against scandals or allegations. Recently Ayefele came under heavy attacks concerning his success as a musician. While some alleged that he is a ritualist, others say he is a drug peddler, among others but the handsome artiste spoke to Daily Sun about all this allegations and more. Excerpt:
I hail from Ekiti State where I had my primary and secondary education. I was unable to attend of higher institution as I would have loved to. I came to Ibadan and joined Uncle Toyin Ajagun's Juju band as a guitarist. I was also a member of the Boys Brigade before I eventually joined the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRSC) at Ibadan. I was among the first set of artistes that introduced musical jingles in Nigeria.
How I started playing music
It was after my accident. I was a broadcaster with the FRCN, Ibadan national station, as a free-lance presenter. After I had the accident from which I sustained spinal cord injury, I had the support of both the electronic and print media. From there I produced an album in my name, Yinka Ayefele. The first album was Bitter Experience and it opened the way for me to become a musician.
I really wanted to return to broadcasting, but little did I know that I would become a professional musician. Eventually when I discovered that music is more profitable, I decided to remain in it and I'm enjoying it.
My kind of music
My music can be described as Gospel Tungba music. It is my own way of preaching the gospel. Although people say that music may be both secular and gospel, there is no way one would hear the beat, my percussion, lyrics and not be forced to listen to the message in the music. Muslims and Christians alike listen to my music. It is my way of preaching the gospel.
Music has been extremely fulfilling to me. It has succeeded in exposing the real Yinka Ayefele. I was in broadcasting in Ibadan but only people around Ibadan knew me. But music exposed me, not only in Nigeria but also beyond Nigeria.
When it comes to composition, I do not want to sound monotonous so I have people who work for me and help compositions. Some of them include Uncle Laye Adis, a musician too, my younger brother and Kayode Emmanuel, a guitarist who always give me songs. So it is not only my efforts.
Up till date, I have 15 which did very well in the market. My marketer can testify to that and my listeners too can. Even people out there can testify to this. My music is everywhere and it has made a lot of impacts.
My greatest sacrifice is the restriction that comes with the fame. I cannot go to any public place or even a supermarket to shop for my wife or anybody. It has always been from my car, to my office, to the studio and back to my house. So I'm very restricted.
The greatest challenge for me is piracy. Seeing the way people are accepting my music, one would think that Yinka Ayefele is a multi-millionaire. But the way my music is seen is not the way I am reaping from it. Piracy has really affected my music. Fans who buy these pirated copies of my music do not mind, since they contain my music and picture. To me, that is the greatest problem. Another problem I am faced with, especially when I go for performances here in Nigeria, is the Oraisasor Urchins. They always ask for financial settlements and after settling a group, another would insist that they are the right group to be settled.
If you are close to me, you will realize that I am not snobbish. I am very friendly and down to earth with everybody. Like I told my band members, no one calls me chairman. We are all colleagues and so I do not want such preferences. I only have the opportunity of being successful musically but there are other musicians who are better than me.
People who have said that I am a ritualist or that I have used my spinal cord to attain success are all enemies of progress. Those are all rumours. I can never negotiate any part of my body for success of any kind and anybody who knows well about spinal cord injury would know that it comes with regular and persistent pain. I am very lucky to be able to make use of the upper part of my body.
I don't know who is behind those rumours but maybe they say those things about me because they want to make money. Recently, a soft sell magazine published my picture on its cover. They featured many names but why was I singled out with my picture? As a matter of fact, I have sued them already to the tune of N1 billion. Also, when I traveled to America there was a rumour that I was jailed for drugs.
When I eventually returned, the same people that peddled the rumour celebrated me. It is very unprofessional. They are only out to deceive people. It has become a part of us in this part of the world. People could just insinuate something, work on it and then spread it. But this is the prize to pay for being successful.
Music, then and now.
I think the Nigerian music industry of today has really improved. Today our music from days past is referred to as old school. If you listen to contemporary music, you would notice the improvements. Everybody is working hard to bring out something different. We can play like the western countries but they can never play like us.
The Whites cannot play the Bata or the talking drum but we can play their keyboard or any other musical instrument they have. Nigeria has the largest number of musicians in Africa. There are lots of hidden stars here, even students. If you listen to the demos made by some young students, you would understand and appreciate the potentials we have in Nigeria. But here, artistes are not properly celebrated. When I was in LA, USA, a store was locked up because an artiste came in to shop.
I cannot say that I have attained my financial fulfillment. I am still working hard to get there. Though no one can be contented with any amount of money but I am very comfortable.
I have learnt a lot of lessons. I have learnt to endure a lot of things because in dealing with people, you must encounter different kinds of people from different backgrounds and perspectives.
I don't have anybody that I am grooming but there are a lot of people who are bringing themselves up to be like me. In the next five years, I don't know where I will be because I did not know I would be here today.