The ladies are coming, and in a big way too. She has a big voice and a very nice personality. With just one album to her credit, Nikki Laoye is a serious vocal talent. She was nominated for KORA Awards Best Spiritual Artiste and Best Arrangement, Hip Hop World Awards Best Female Vocal Performance and Best New Artiste among others. She spent sometime with Notes and Tones and this is what she said…
What are your musical origins?
Music runs in my family. I come from the Laoye family in Ede, Osun State. My family is well known and very popular because of Oba Anifowose Laoye who made the talking drum popular back in the pre-independence days. I play the 'digital drum' and I am still looking forward to learning the talking drum. I also play a bit of the guitar and the piano. I and my younger ones are involved in musical production. We run a music production company called Roc Steady Productions.
Are there any musical associations from the church?
I have always been in the church. I started singing in the choir right from when I was five years old. That really helped broaden my musical horizon.
How would you describe your music?
I am a contemporary gospel artiste. Gospel is the good news and that good news is that God loves us. It is a message of love. At the end of the day, I am a Christian, I am a born-again Christian. Our world should revolve around our love for God and our love for man. I talk about encouragement and love.
You and a couple of new gospel artistes have sort of redefined the gospel genre. You won't really be able to differentiate the gospel genre from regular popular music.
The truth is just that everybody expresses their music in a different way. What shouldn't change is the message. Every bank works differently, but in the end they all deal with money. The expression usually differs, but the message remains the same.
Yinka Ayefele, Bouqui, Midnight Crew, Rooftop Mcs and myself are all gospel artistes, but at the end of the day, we all have different ways of expressing ourselves and there are different people who we are sent to and we have to identify the best way of reaching across to them. I appeal to the young people; the young people that might not normally even go to church. My songs are even played in night clubs.
What's your valuation of the current Nigerian music scene?
Things are getting better because I am a very optimistic person. We are praying for more recognition from companies and the government. We are suffering from the inability to generate any revenue from the sales of our music. We do not have any proper structure yet and our CDs on the street go for less than a dollar. If we are able to combat piracy in this country and respect people's intellectual rights, then we will make progress. A lot of artistes are making good music and they need to be paid for their work.
What do you think about the females contribution to Nigerian music?
I think we are getting more and more relevant. There's Omawunmi, Kel, Waje, Bouqui, Ego, Lara George, Asa, Yinka Davies and so many others. We are coming out more and more with good quality, the only challenge remains that of finances. If we can surmount that, you will definitely see more great female artistes on the scene.
How do you get inspiration for your music?
My inspiration mainly comes from God. I say that with all confidence because “Never Felt this Way Before” literally dropped from the sky. I never wrote a single line of it myself. My inspiration also comes from experiences. There was a time I was going though a lot of challenges and that was when “Joy Comes” came into my heart. The song simply echoes the Bible portion that reads 'though weeping may endure for a night, joy comes in the morning.' I also have other songs that just came through contributions or collaborations. “Taka Su Fe” is an example. I was with my friends, the Rooftop Mcs and we decided to do a song together and we simply came up with that song.
How long did it take you to complete that album?
That album has been in the works for years. I used to be in a girl's group called Soul Sisters with two of my friends. We were supposed to work together on an album since our days in the university, but they had to leave along the line and I trudged on alone. We still come together to do some things. So, many songs on that album were in the works for a very long time, but the official recording period started in 2006.
What did you study in the university?
I read Computer Science at the University of Ibadan. I majored in graphics and design. I do most of the computer works of my music. I prepare most of my performance CDs by myself. I know you are going to ask why I left that for music, but the computer knowledge has really helped me. It has contributed in no small way to my music. I love what I do.
Are there other things you do apart from music?
I do a lot of advert stuff. I work with Cobhams and he calls me up for a lot of his stuff. I also do movie soundtracks and also some jingles for MTN and Fidelity Bank. I was the only back up for Banky W's ' and Etisalat's 0809JA 4 Life.'
What kind of men do you like?
I like hard working and understanding men with a great sense of humour. Like I said before, men that are loving.
Any marriage plans yet?
Not now. Not yet.
As a young beautiful Christian lady, what do you think is the position of love and inter-sexual relationships in the life of a Christian?
One major thing people should understand is that we are human beings and that we have feelings. Those feelings are God-given. They are not devilish. Emotional and sexual feelings are in-built. The mutual attraction between the male and female is natural, but what keeps us above animals is the fact that we have control. We need to be constantly in control because there's no strong man or woman. Temptations fly at us every second, minute and hour from every angle, TV, radio and physically and only God can help us to keep our minds and souls together. I personally don't believe in sex before marriage. When one gets married, there will be freedom to do whatever you like.
What is the weirdest experience you have had?
I once entered a bus from Gbagada to Oshodi and we were accosted by the 'One Chance' robbers. This was about two years ago. They robbed everyone else but they let me go unharmed and not robbed. It was obviously the hand of God.
What is the happiest moment of your life?
One of my greatest moments was the first time I heard my song on radio. It was on Cool FM in 2006 and it was played by Freeze. My younger brother was the first one that heard and he called everybody in the house to hear it. I felt very fulfilled that day. I will never forget that day.
Who is your greatest musical influence?
Brandy is my number one and anybody that listens to my song would notice that. She never tries to exceed her vocal range, but uses what she has to full advantage.
What about the Nigerian scene?
One person that I really like a lot is Banky W. I like the way he expresses himself and I believe he is one of the greatest voices in the land at the moment. I am crazy about the Rooftop MCs. They are the most focused people I have ever seen.