Monday, January 31, 2011

Interview Part 2 -"Eva’D’Diva: A Hidden Vocal Gem in World Music”

We now offer the final installment of our interview with, Evaezihohifue Ogoro who is also known to her fans as Eva’D’Diva, an up-and coming R&B artiste from Nigeria. Click here for Part 1. In the conclusion of this two-part interview, she discusses the process behind creating her yet-to-be titled new album, possible movie roles, thoughts on 2009's “Shades of Gray”, and more. I want to thank Eva for her frank, open approach to my questions and hope you enjoy the interview as much as I had participating.

Besides your singing career and producing radio jingles, what are some other projects you've been involved in?

 Erm.... other projects.... I am very hands on with charity programs. I run an events company called VAE HOFE INTERNATIONAL LIMITED. In May, we partnered with the first lady of Lagos State - Her Excellency, Mrs. Abimbola Fashola and one of her good friends- Ms Helen Ominiabohs and Ms Funke Babatola for a yearly event called 500 WOMEN FOR CHILDREN. We gather women together to make an impact in the lives of unfortunate people and orphans. It is really a profound stuff. I am currently in talks with a few companies and organizations that want me to head a few programs for them and I have also been approached by a couple of movie producers and directors to star in their movies. So 2011 is going to be one busy year for me. I bless God for the opportunity.

You’re currently considering a major role in a Nollywood movie and also working on your second album. Do you mind letting us in on some details of these current projects?

LMAO!!!! I am not at liberty to give you more details are regards the movie roles and other areas of entertainment that I will be delving into come 2011. But I will keep you posted as we progress :) As for the new album... I am kind of reaching out now as regards collabos and I am experimenting a lot with my sound. I am really excited. My list of collabos are so odd but that’s what makes it beautiful. I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag just yet :)

You have been nominated for a number of awards in the relatively short time you have been in the public view such as Most Promising Act to Watch (Nigerian Entertainment Awards 2010) & Best Female Vocal Performance (Hip Hop World Awards 2010). How does it feel to be nominated as one of the best singers of the year?

How do I feel? LOL I feel sooooo elated. It’s a glorious feeling to have something you have poured your essence into, be appreciated. I could not believe that I was nominated for those categories. It was a bit scary for a while because there was this pressure that people were expecting me to do the impossible or something. LOL it was like they had prepared this massive shoe for me to fill but on the flip side, it became a great feeling and a challenge to step up my game and that's what I am doing presently. So I am grateful to God for this 'pat on the back'.

You have been credited with a number of hits such as Jungle, Na So, God’s Hand No Cry, Mo Fe Be’ and ‘Kilode. What was the inspiration behind the single “God’s Hand”?

The inspiration behind ‘God’s Hand’ is one of bitterness, frustration, hopelessness ... But also one of hope and belief... belief in the power and the fairness of God. For the first couple of years... even now... I was submerged in people's 'bad bele'. It was like some people were not happy that I had appeared on the scene and some wanted to control me... to make me out to be their pun and when I refused, I was blacklisted. Then almost at the same time, my dad was on my case about going back to school for a masters and getting a 9-5 job. I became this punching bag.... I just got hit from everywhere... places that I didn’t even expect. So... I was constantly in a dark place. I was always on my guard... like I was constantly in a war zone. LOL but I bless God for my mum and my friend / former manager ATAGA GRAY... they stuck by me and encouraged me to the best of their abilities. I guess I just got to a point ... like Job in the bible... I was like 'na God hand I dey'.... if God wants to kill me ... he should do it now LMAO!!!! I was that bitter and frustrated. But I guess that sometimes, God needs us to get to that point for Him to pilot us to our greater destinies.

What mental place were you in for the creation of the album Shades of Gray?

My state of mind doing the previous album was one of uncertainty. I wasn’t sure about anything. Things and people aren’t always black or white, wrong or right... there are always grey areas that just bumps us off our perfect calculated scheduled lives. So that reality hit me and that's the state of mind I was in.

How is this current album affected by your personal life experiences?

This current album is going to show the different sides of me... unleashed and untainted. As much as everybody yearns for commercial success... there should come a time in your life that you need to stay true to you and what moves your universe. So this album is going to expose EVA in certain ways most people have not seen her (me). So folks better get ready for THE CORE OF ME!!!! (Hmmmmm... I just might take that as my album title LMAO!!!!).

You are performing in a genre of music that is fledgling by many accounts. Do you mind sharing with the readers the difficulties you have encountered in trying to sell R&B or your style of music in Nigeria?

Hmmmmmm.... I do a kind of fusion. I love to experiment in ALL I do. Soul, R&B, Pop, Jazz, Hip Life, Afro and Neo Soul ;) Variety is the spice of life. However... because of the strain on the political and economical areas of the country, people want to just kick back and relax to music that does not task their brains...'Feel Good' music as they call it.

If you could change something about yourself, what would it be?

Hmmmm.... well.... that's a really tricky I am a cancerian. so that should tell you that I am an emotional person. I let my emotions flow freely because I think they are beautiful gifts from God that put color in our lives. So when I am angry... you really don’t want to be around me LOL but when I am in love , or I am happy or giddy.... you could see that I am literally walking on cloud nine... so as much as its one of my strengths.. It’s also my weakness lol. Most times... people who have been around me for a while... draw up a calendar on me LMAO! like my brother can get the keys to my car or my friend can get me to give em money without even paying me back.... it’s just terrible LOL but I guess that's what makes the world go round. so I guess in actual fact, I don’t think there is anything about me that I would change. I do wish I had a smaller nose and a smaller pair of lips and hips... but that's me being a bit superficial LOL.

If you could choose a profession you would like to try what would it be?

Another profession??? Oh that's easy.... TEACHING!!!! First of all... I looooove kids and I believe that education is the foundation of a civilized society. Education not just meaning an academic one but a spiritual and moral one. Kids aren’t well grounded these days. It’s sad.

Are you signed with a major label right now?

No... I am not signed to any record label. I just have a great team that I work with and that I can fall back on whenever things get too messy or strenuous for me. I am talking about Gray Tiger Entertainment.

Are you surprised by how you much positive reception you’ve gotten from your unique rendition of the Nigerian National Anthem? I mean, the record is absolutely everywhere! How are you dealing with that?

Well... I am abit shocked at the positive response to my music and my rendition of the Nigerian National Anthem. The entertainment industry is a jungle... I must tell you. You have some old players discouraging new (good and unique) players about the Nigerian market. They tell you things like 'that won’t sell.... listen to so so so artist.... he does this or that kind of music and that is what sells'....... so most people are done before they even get started.... So... some people told me that my kind of music and style will most likely not be appreciated in Nigeria but I am rather stubborn and decided to go on anyway. So.... when I started getting the great reviews and nominations and events.... I was scared. I would pray every morning and be like 'GOD.... Na dem dey see this talent wey dem dey talk about oooo. I am just EVA. I have never really been special in anybody's eyes... except my family. It is you they are seeing ooo. If for some reason... you vex leave me.... I am guaranteed to fall yakata'. So I am glad he has been faithful and continues to polish me as His trophy.

What kind of music have you been listening to lately, or stuff that’s come out in 2010 that you’ve liked?

In the later part of 2010... I got a mad craving for old school jamz. I became soooooo obsessed going through my friend's phones to bluetooth any and every old school jamz they had LOL. so Anita Baker, Tracy Chapman, New Edition, Betty Wright, Toni Braxton, Whitney Houston. But as for our own Naija.... Tuface's ‘ONLY ME’ and ‘IMPLICATION’ were absolutely loooooovely. D'banj's SCAPE GOAT also kind of grew on me towards the end of 2010 and of course MI's NUMBER ONE track ft. Flavour off his new album. Those were kind of the songs I listened to in 2010.

What’s the one thing you most want people to know about you and your music?
The one thing I really will want people to know about me and my music is that it’s honest and selfless. When I write and when I do things... I always have other people in mind first. I think God is gradually taking me past this craze for 'commercial success' alone.... we should also value humanity and constantly think of ways to develop it. So... I and my music are of service to you (the public) :)

What are your goals in the next five years?

My goal in the next 5 years to like a Michael Jackson in Entertainment (without all the negative hype and drama), A bigger Oprah Winfrey in Humanities and like an Obama (an unforeseen hero) in my country and in generations to come. Music is just the beginning for EVA D'DIVA. I never start oooooo LMAO!

Is there anyone you'd like to acknowledge for offering emotional support? Any parting words?
Errrr....... My mum and Ataga Gray a.k.a Gray Tiger have been so dear to my heart. Supporting me through my break down, kicking and screaming and crying days. They are the strength that God gave me. So I would advice young, up and coming artistes to find those people that can push and nurture them to their greatness. It is very essential!!!! I also want to thank you for the opportunity to reach my fans in North America. You are doing a beautiful thing. We should never give up on our dreams.... they are too heavy and precious for one man or even a million to kill out of their fear or insecurities that you will out-live and out-succeed them. 2011...HERE WE ARE!!!!!!!

   I'd like to thank Eva for the most in-depth interview yet, you can bet you'll be hearing more about him right here on The Afrikan Child! Until next time, O da abo Eva! , and we look forward to our next interview.

The Afrikan Child © Copyright 2011. All Rights reserved. No part of these pages, either text or image may be duplicated without the author's permission. Also, reproduction, modification, storage in a retrieval system or retransmission, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical or otherwise is strictly prohibited without prior written permission. General inquiries should be directed to our Web feedback box, accessible from this link or from the footer at the bottom of most pages on our

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Jabali Afrika: A Musical Journey into Africa!

 A couple of years ago, I was rummaging through my local public library’s collection of World Music CD’s when I came across this peculiar group of musicians from Africa. Initially, I had a hard time placing Jabali Afrika in any particular genre of music I had previously encountered(be it that I have quite an eclectic taste in music), but I was soon bowled over when I started listening to tracks such as 'Jenny', 'Tubula' and 'Magunga' from their album Journey.

      Fast forward to 2010, and a casual conversation with a Kenyan friend of mine about the group (consequently borrowed his entire Jabali Afrika Collection), soon cemented my love for this unique group with a golden blend of voices and percussion. An interview request email via the band’s website brought me perhaps the quickest response I have from any individual or group I have ever considered highlighting on this blog. Joseck Asikoye, the band’s leader agreed to my request and graciously walked me through a timeline of the group’s rise to international stardom. Jabali Afrika is a dynamic musical quartet made up of individuals who hail from Kenya, Cameroon and Swaziland. Their award-winning, innovative mélange of traditional spirituals and rock-reggae arrangements have made them an attraction at many world music festivals and college concerts worldwide. Below is a distilled version of the many hours of interviewing I held with Joseck.

Thank you for granting me this interview. Can we begin by having you telling us a bit about who Jabali Afrika is?

Jabali afrika is a high energy afro-beat jam band from Kenya with their own unique mixture of african fusion that they call Rootsmusic. Jabali Afrika is an Award winning band that has been touring worldwide; a multi-faceted group with many dimensions in their music. Not only are they accomplished singers and instrumentalists, they are activists and use their music for such meaningful causes.

      When we make music we want you not only to dance but also to listen to what we are talking about in the music. We generally tend to make music for people to dance and feel good about, but most of the music is telling a story or highlighting a situation. It is basically edutainment. We gather a lot of our inspiration from musicians like Fela Kuti, Manu Dibango, Osibisa etc, and if you combine all these artistes together that’s what our sound is. To sum it up, it’s like the revolutionary aspect of Fela, the smoothness of Manu Dibango, and the high energy and percussive sound of Osibisa.

What, if anything, has influenced the band’s career the most?
Our tenacity. The music business is a hard road and on any given day, sometimes we simply wanted to give up but we never did because we know we’re good and God wouldn’t have given us these gifts if He didn’t want us to use them. You just have to be creative and continue to find new outlets for what you do.

Do you have any favorites from songs that you’ve written…from the current album Mayosi?

Some are more fun to sing than others but our favorites are the ones that the audiences keep requesting. The favorite songs that we have written on Mayosi are as follows:

Number #1 “Peoples Voice" a song that was banned on radio and T.V. Its’ message was very clear and yet the government got it wrong...It basically said respect the voice of the people through the ballot. It was educating the electorate about the choice they make basically telling them if you plant maize (corn) be ready to harvest maize.

Number #2 "Train To Burma" was about the forefathers who went to fight in the Second World War and never came back. A war they did not understand and when they were taken there they were told they will be bearers only to end up in the battlefield fighting for the colonial masters.

Number # 3 Njelele a song about my Dad’s story when he was going back into the village after retirement. The troubles he went encountered with my uncles trying to resettle in his own farm that the uncles thought was neglected. This is a familiar story to a lot of Africans who migrated from the village in search of opportunity and when they retire and try to get back to the village, they undergo similar challenges including land boundaries etc.

What will surprise your readers to know about Jabali Afrika?

That we are a Hip-Hop Generation that loves hip hop and reggae and are up to date with the cultures, but are strictly rooted on the African vibes.

What’s the biggest obstacle the band has had to overcome?

The biggest obstacle we have encountered is making the adjustment from the African music scene into the western one....When people see African artistes they have this notion that everything African is exotic. Just because we compose music using traditional African instruments doesn’t mean that the music is traditional, it’s simply original music. It is just like the same way they use guitars and pianos in creating music. That has been a big obstacle for us being looked upon like exotic musicians who represent a culture not necessarily telling stories like other mainstream musicians. African music has definitely evolved. Who would have thought an African will have a number one record in the genre of hip hop/ or an African song will be number one in over 16 countries world-wide? K’naan just did that!

What are some of the changes that the success of Jabali Afrika has brought ?

People especially in East Africa don’t look at Afro-centric oriented music the same anymore. We made afro vibes cool instead of putting musicians playing traditional instruments at the entrances of music venues; they are now headlining shows on the main stage. I remember they would put a musician playing traditional instruments at the entrance of a music venue and have a cover band play on the main stage, which changed as soon as Jabali Afrika came onto the Kenyan music scene.

Every band that is coming up now in East Africa especially Kenya where Jabali Afrika traces its roots is taking a rootsmusic-oriented approach and they are branding themselves like Jabali Afrika.To us, it is a big achievement coz our dream was to inspire generations and to let them know that the African culture or music is not inferior. Africa is the beginning and also will represent the future and to sum it all, music originated from Africa.

What do you like to do in your spare time…if you have any?
In our spare time we make music if not making music, some of us are in the gym working out or playing sports and spending time with the family coz we are parents too.

Switching gears, what is your opinion about contemporary African music? What is your opinion on the use of auto tune music by some African musicians?

I think we are taking it too far and instead of people learning how to play an instrument they are taking short cuts. Not all contemporary African music is bad but with what’s going on now the future of finding African youth playing instruments will be a rare thing. In the West even though Hip-hop is controlling the charts, they still have other forms of music that’s not computer based like rock etc. They have kids still learning how to play instruments while in Africa every kid wants to be a rap star with no musical background.
About Auto tune what I would say is the first instrument that you have in music is your voice and it’s the main thing that differentiates artistes from each other why would you like to sound the same. As long as we embrace technology in making music let’s not abuse it, too much of anything is dangerous. I don’t see why African musicians should use auto tune coz the African is a natural performer we are raw people that purity is the beauty of our music e.g. the soukous bass was invented to give the music a thumping kick like sound and that’s what makes African music beautiful and sophisticated.

How can the band help the African continent take advantage of its’ big reputation as an ambassador of the African culture by bringing clear messages to our corrupted leaders?

By illuminating the good things about the continent coz there’s too much disaster pornography in the western world about Africa...and as Fela said 99.9 percent of what they say about Africa in the west is not true and we all know that...and some of the people responsible for misrepresenting Africa are the Africans themselves e.g. people who’ve made disasters in Africa, their hassle and mode of survival. We know there are homeless people in the west but we’ve never seen the westerners in Africa asking for help in such a situation. The problem of Africa is leadership and that’s what has to change. How can the richest continent in natural resources in the world be the poorest? The moment we get good leadership Africa will be emancipated forever. We need visionary leaders like Kwame Nkrumah, Patrice Lumumba, Tom Mboya, Dedan Kimathi, and Nelson Mandela etc and if you go through our music catalog those are the issues we are talking about...Look at Ivory Coast now, the people voted and the loser is clinging to power. Similar situations are occurring in Zimbabwe and Kenya. It is as though the power sharing deal is the new dictatorship trend in Africa. The messages are clear to the corrupt African leaders. We are still illuminating what Fela and the musicians before us said, and we will not be the last. There are more of our kind who are born every day.

Do you find that different countries different cultures react differently to your music?

Yes, they do they react differently but mostly on the positive side. Some see similarities in what they now know as whatever name they call their music. All I can say it’s all about being positive.
What can we expect from Jabali Afrika in the future?

More music that will reflect well on where we come from, uplifting, revolutionary, inspiring and educative what would we like the impact of our career to be. We want our career to represent courage and pride of the African peoples’ way of life...We want it to inspire the future generations of African children to know that they are not inferior.
Lastly, what advice would you give to young artists and songwriters who are trying to break into the music business today?

One word: Originality, originality! Be yourself! Don’t try to be anybody else.

       Mr. Joseck Asikoye, thank you very much for granting me this interview. It is a pleasure and an honor to talk with you about your group! I wish your band continued success in all its' endeavors.

Jabali Afrika can be reached via their website .

The Afrikan Child © Copyright 2011. All Rights reserved. No part of these pages, either text or image may be duplicated without the author's permission. Also, reproduction, modification, storage in a retrieval system or retransmission, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical or otherwise is strictly prohibited without prior written permission. General inquiries should be directed to our Web feedback box, accessible from this link or from the footer at the bottom of most pages on our site.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Interview Part 1-"Eva’D’Diva: A Hidden Vocal Gem in World Music”

  Rarely does an artist come along that embodies both a fresh new approach musically while offering lyrical ideas that are powerful and compelling. In an age of fleeting success and impermanent notions, Eva D’Diva is an artist of substance, armed with an eye for detail and an emotional intelligence that can switch from withering to compelling. This Nigerian singer/songwriter has astonishing distinct vocal abilities and stage craftsmanship which have garnered her nominations for a number of prestigious awards such as the Best Female vocal performance at the 2010 Hip-hop World Awards.

          Eva is grateful for having accomplished more than she could have ever dreamed of as a young girl. As a woman matured by all of life's experiences, she has gone back to her roots with her upcoming (yet-to-be named) project and reconnected with her core group of musical and spiritual friends. Once more she will employ her sultry powerful voice, her tremendous vocal and stylistic range, and take us on an ultimate journey of the soul. On the track “Echoes”, one can feel Eva’s rage as she asks the listeners to feel with her this uncontrollable outburst of emotion. And we do. Rich in tone and pungent with emotion, Eva uses her voice as a true instrument to convey her raw, unvarnished and heart-retching feelings about the ongoing religious conflict that have plagued the Niger Delta, JOS and parts of Southeast Nigeria, her country of birth. With the track “Happy Days”, she contributes sultry duet and backing vocals which are occasionally interspersed by Ruddy Tee’s Yoruba rap. It is worth noting that this is the first official song on which EVA is a featured artiste.

          In anticipation of the release of the singles, ECHOES (I hear the Cries) and HAPPY DAYS (Ruddy Tee ft. Eva’D’Diva), Eva sat down with me for a rare and unusually candid conversation. As she noted in our interview, “there’s no point in writing music without honesty. Failure to do so makes the music sound hollow and staged….I certainly want people to emotionally connect to my music”. We are bringing you the first installment of this interview, with the remaining portion to follow in the next few weeks.

Q: Ms. Eva D’Diva, thank you very much for granting me this interview. I’m sure our readers would be interested in learning about you. Let’s start at the beginning: Eva, tell us a little about yourself?

Eva: Well, My real name is Evaezihohifue Ogoro. A light interpretation of that name is A PURE HEART IS THE ANTIDOTE FOR EVIL. I am the 4th out of 5 kids from my parents Engr. and Mrs. C.E Ogoro. I have 3 brothers and a sister. I hail from Delta State... I am Isoko. I was born on the 13th of July. I studied English in the University of Lagos and got my B.A in 2005. My favorite foods are pasta (OMG!!!! I could eat pasta for weeks non-stop and still not get tired. My friends say dem don use am swear for me lol) and Plantain. I have a terrible sweet tooth (shaking  her head) reeeeeaaaally terrible. I guess that's why I don’t drink... because if it isn’t sweet... I won’t have it lol. I love kids. If I wasn’t into entertainment, I'd be teaching in a secondary school somewhere. I am a hopeless romantic. I looooove watching movies. That's my favorite pass time activity. I also loooooove video games. I suffered from a major inferiority complex all through my childhood to my teen years. Girls in secondary school told me I was hideously ugly and that I looked like a man because my breasts didn’t develop when theirs did. So, I had more male friends than females in secondary school. I am pretty simple. I go through life not wanting the extra emotional baggage of trying so hard to please people. I love to write.... that's how I can truly and properly express myself without fists flying in the air. LOL!

Q: When and how did you start making music? How did your family shape your singing career?

Eva: Well, music became an obsession ever since I was little and I have Whitney Houston to thank for that. I watched one of her live performances one day on TV and I was so captivated by it.... so where the audience. And so... something just got triggered on the inside of me. It was rather profound...thinking back on it now. For like a split second, I saw myself on that stage, in that same position... having that same effect on people... you know. I really can’t describe it. LOL I guess it might have been how Moses felt when He saw the burning bush. You see it but you can’t believe it. It was just like a higher calling. So... after that... I paid more attention to music.... to songs by Whitney Houston, Toni Braxton, Escape, SWV, Celine Dion, Anita Baker and the likes. I would sing their songs around the house. I would try to sound exactly like them and that's how I learnt how to sing. I never went to Music school or anything. It was a conscious effort on my part to sound like one of the greats. My elder sister and younger brother also caught the music bug and we subconsciously formed like an informal 3 man group. Men!!!! I enjoyed those times. We would sit on the stairs and sing till mum came back from work in the night. Our harmony was always on point and my sister was always telling us when we went off key because she was always in one choir or the other and so she knew the technical side to music but i felt the passion... and we would sing and laugh about it.

                 When I was in secondary school, my uncle - Kingsley Ogoro brought home Esse Agesse. He was introducing her to my dad...who is the eldest in the family and while they were upstairs talking about wedding plans and all that. I was downstairs... reveling in the presence of Esse Agesse. I would sing her songs back to her to try and impress her. I am talking about her hits such as  Fine Peppersoup, Bendel girl in Lagos, Back to the Basics and so on. LMAO!!!! She must have seen me as a major pest. I soon graduated from secondary school and started chasing my uncle around the place to help me out with my music career. I had to quietly look for him because my dad didn’t want to hear such lofty ideas about music. As far as he was concerned, it wasn't a real job and serious minded people did not think of such... which was kinda funny because he had roped us all into a family band called the Emonena Gospellers...OMG!!!! I can still remember how high our shoulder pads were LWKM!!!! I was the alto singer, my sister was the Treble, My younger brother shuttled between drums and the Agogo. My dad was the lead guitarist. He wrote all his songs, majorly in Isoko and we would sing (shaking her head) However, in 1997, I had an accident and had to be removed from the group because the injuries I incurred were - a crushed Voice box, a narrowed Trachea, a fractured Spinal Cord. So I was both dumb and paralyzed for a while. I remember my biggest fear after the fear of death was the fear of not being able to sing again. That was a nightmare. My sister will flutter around the house singing and I would be in my room... with a huge caste from head to waist... crying. So... what I did was that I forced myself to sing. I could not wait for the voice box to heal. I needed to start singing then and there....The impatience is what now constitutes as my vocal signature. There is a wheezy, airy nature to my voice. It wasn’t always so... at least..not before the car accident. Even after I recovered, I went looking for my uncle again to further my dreams of being a musician which he silently refused. I mean, he kept dodging me and giving me excuses. So... erm.... in University of Lagos, I did some singing for campus fellowships until I graduated. And just when I was about throwing in the towel.... this God-send... a dear friend of mine called Bolaji Onisiwo who was working as a sound engineer at a recording studio called me and opted to use his salary to pay for a studio session for me. He got producers together and even called a couple of Radio DJs to help promote the song on air. Men!!!! the boy try. It was one of the tracks we did that my uncle later heard and was like... 'Meeeeeeeeeeeeen!!!!! im get goldmine for im backyard all this while wen im dey suffer imself to chase coins'. So... for about a year plus... we worked together and he helped me jump start career with my first hit single ' NO CRY'. We eventually had a fall out in 2007 and I have been on my own since with great support from Gray Tiger Entertainment :) The rest they say… is history.

Q: Who are your biggest influences?

Eva: My biggest influences should be my mum…She is a fighter and yet has the heart of a child. The babe doesn’t take challenges lying down LOL. She is a praying and a giving woman. A mother, in every sense of the word at heart. Other influences should be Mary J. Blige, you can feel the truth and magic of music in her voice and songs... she gets me every time. Whitney Houston definitely... there is something just rich and deep about her vocals and delivery. My pastor recently joined this list, Pastor Poju Oyemade of Covenant Christian Center. You don’t get as real and as deep as Pastor Poju... R.Kelly brings out the spiritualism, the Professionalism and the Commercialism of music in every song very nicely. That dude is a legend! Michael Jackson.... I still haven’t seen a musician who is as dedicated and who works at this profession with every ounce of his or her being like the late Michael Jackson. Dude was..... CWAAAAZY GREAT!!!

Q: Any new songs on the upcoming album that you are particularly proud of? (or any of your albums for that matter) and why? Any plans for coming to North America?

Eva: I am proud of all my songs. They all came to me at different points in my life. So listening to them, takes me back each time and reminds me of the resolve that has made me out to be a better person. 'Shades of Gray' as the first album was called was like a rough sketch. We were approached by some interested individuals who wish to take the album to the next level. So I am currently working on a revised version of that album...adding a little bit more flavor and a little bit more Eva :) it should be out before the end of the first quarter in 2011. There are no immediate plans to come to North America but if the opportunity does present itself... I will definitely be on the first flight out. I would love to come see and enjoy the sights and sounds of North America. :)

Q.I have heard and read a number of comments by individuals who have stated that your sound is a hybrid between old school-like Lagbaja with the beats. Some music reviewers have gone as far as comparing your soaring vocals and music videos to next door neighbor Angelique Kidjo. You bear an uncanny resemblance to Eve, the hip-hop star. What do you make of this comparison and all the attention?

Eva: LOL... yea... the comparisons. Eve is the one that I have had to listen to for sooooooooooooooo long. I honestly don’t think I look like her but hey... sight is relative. A hybrid huh??? well... Change is good I believe and I believe that it is very necessary for one to constantly re-invent themselves. But I have a huge love for old school jams. There is something 'selfless' about the music they did in those days. It was bigger than just selling records. People entered music for the love of the art. Music changed lives in those days. It’s not like now that music is a last resort and thanks to digital vocal enhancers, everybody believes they can sing. Artistes have started getting lazy... you know. So... I guess a part of me choose to remain with the spirit of the old... and so when I sit with my producers... I nid to get that magic... that 'substance' that we seem to have lost in today's music. I guess the Angelique Kidjo comparism is also due to the hair and the Africanism in my brand LOL.... what can I say??? I LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE AFRICA!!!! I rep her till I die.

Q: Do you write your own songs?

Eva: Yes... I write all my songs.... I do all the vocal work. I am very much involved in the whole process. From inception to finish. I am there when they mix and master. This is because I used to dabble in sound engineering while working with my uncle... so... I guess I am sort of a Jack of all trades.

Q: Where can your fans and music lovers check out your music?

Eva: For now... my fans and music lovers can check out my stuff at WWW.REVERBNATION.COM/EVADDIVA that's where they can get my work... fresh from me.

Q: Are there any musicians you would love to collaborate with?

Eva: You know... it’s all about who compliments your style and energy. So I will definitely love to do a collabo with Mary J. Blige, R.Kelly, Erykah Badu, Usher, T.Pain... that’s all for now!

Q: How did you arrive at the name Eva D’Diva and what image do you think your music conveys?

Eva: My friends added DIVA to my name because they believe a DIVA is a woman who is on top of her hustle.... not necessarily a 'pretty in pink' sorta gal.. But someone who has been through the fire and who is now coming out as pure gold. I think the message behind my music is one of survival and self-preservation. You will notice that most of the song has a strong 'god dependency' and that is because my family and I at some point were 'hit hard by life and left for dead'. No one was interested in helping out... so survival and self preservation wasn’t an option for us. We just had to prove them all wrong. We are stronger and the better for it now :) so when people see me.... they see a passionate fighter, someone who will not easily give up and someone who still believes in the beauty and Justice of the Universe and the existence of God... You will also see someone who is proud of her roots and tries to promote it anywhere and in any way she can.

Check back soon for the second part to our interview with Eva’D’Diva. She also is a must-follow on Twitter @EVANAIJA .

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