Tiwatope Savage-Balogun professionally known with her stage name Tiwa Savage, is a Nigerian singer, songwriter, performer and an actress covers the latest edition of A Nation of Billions where she opens up on “The Dairy of Tiwa Savage”. She has gained a certified place among leading West African pop genre artist since her days at X Factor.
The 37-year-old multi-talented artist met with Akua Ofei of A Nation of Billions in her Central London hotel suite where she opens up about her journey as an artist and music thus far:
“Oh my goodness X Factor was bittersweet,” she says with a small laugh when I ask about her time on the show. “It was a heartbreaking experience at that time. Obviously, because I didn’t get through – I think I got eliminated just before the final 10, and I was heartbroken. But then, I say sweet because I feel like if I’d gotten through I probably wouldn’t be doing the type of music I’m doing now. I probably would be doing strictly Pop music or R’n’B music. So I think God knew what He was doing.”
Internationalist from early, Tiwa spent many early years honing her craft in both the UK and US:
“It was a situation where I got a glimpse of what was to come and I was able to go back and really prepare myself. I always say this: ‘Opportunity favours the prepared’ – I don’t know if I was prepared mentally then. And also, I had to really go back. Go to Berklee College of Music, learn music. Moved to America, learned how to write songs. Worked with a lot of amazing artists that I’ve always looked up to – all my life. And that’s where I discovered the buzz that was happening in Africa because when I was in America, everyone would say ‘Tiwa, where are you from?’ and I’d tell them oh, I’m from Nigeria and they’d say ‘wow!’ They were so fascinated by the music, the culture and I was like why am I trying to do something else when these people are interested in what’s going on in Africa? And that’s when I moved back [to Nigeria from America] so it all adds up. I’m glad I actually didn’t get through on X Factor but at the same time, if you’d asked me I probably would have ripped your head off at the time. You know, sometimes when you go into situations and this door is shutting, and this door is shutting and that door – it forces you to look inward. Because you can’t get what you thought you needed at that time, it forces you to reevaluate yourself.”
The singer, songwriter, explains why the deal made sense that Jay Z signed her into Roc Nation after the launch of Tidal Music:
“because they are the ones more so interested with what’s going on with Afrobeats and the movement. From my personal experience, especially signing with Roc Nation – they are more interested in maintaining what it is that’s gotten me this far and what has gotten us this far. So, they’re not really trying to change the sound. I would say maybe branding and artist development – in terms of, our music industry is completely different in Africa than it is in the US or UK – so it’s just learning a different infrastructure – the product is still the same. It’s just working on the branding or packaging a little bit. I have to maintain that otherwise, what’s the point really? You’ll lose the essence of the movement and this movement is bigger than one artist. It’s a revolution. So we have to be mindful that we’re representing a continent and we’re representing new artists that will come up after us and they have to maintain that sound as well.”
While juggling her music career, motherhood and pursuing acting, Tiwa understands the real impact her position offers her:
“I don’t really advertise [my humanitarian work] that much. Especially on my social media because it’s just a personal thing I think – but now I’m in two minds. I think it’s important to do it, and before I used to feel like if I talk about it too much will people think I’m exploiting the situation or I’m just doing it to look good in the public eye. But then I also feel like I have to talk about it because I have a voice and there might be situations where people don’t know of certain things happening in a specific area – then a celebrity talks about it and then it shines a light to it.”
READ more about the interview on A Nation of Billions.
Photo Credit: A Nation of Billions