Acclaimed Waka Queen, Salawa Ibiwunmi Abeni has been on the music scene since 1978 when as a teenager, she released her first album.
The evergreen nightingale clocked 60 years old on May 5, 2021, and she says it is going to be a big celebration. In this interview with thelaurel.com.ng, she spoke about her new milestone and the musical project she is cooking behind the scene to mark the birthday.
At 60, how has life’s journey been for you?
I am grateful to God almighty for sparing my life thus far. Life has been full of lessons. I’m doing a recording titled “My Journey to 60.” It will talk about my journey into music and all I have encountered since then. I’ve learnt a lot of lessons. My new recording will summarize it all.
You weren’t able to celebrate your 59th birthday-
Because at the time, we all were quarantined in our house. The only things did back then was to jog, using my facemask, return home and sanitise my hands. But surviving the year called for special thanksgiving. That is why this year would be a big celebration. COVID-19 humbled everyone.
Your son, Big Chef, is a musician. Did you influence him?
Big Chef, his dad and I are musicians. Immediately after secondary school, he wanted to go fully into music, but I advised him to get his degree first. I believe it would give him more opportunities and confidence. When he completed his (degree) projects, he said he has fulfilled my wish, and I assisted him and his dad assisted him too, music-wise.
What’s your favourite holiday destination?
Funny enough, I don’t go on holidays, I only go abroad to work. I observe most of my holidays in Lagos. But some time ago, I travelled to Dubai because of my health. I love all the countries I have travelled to. Even though I cannot speak French, I love France.
If you have another life to live, would you still want to be a musician?
Yes, of course. But I’ll like to be more educated because I didn’t have the opportunity of going to school. My parents didn’t have money to send me to school.
Any memorable experience?
My father hailed from Ogun State, while my mother was from the Odufoworo family in Epe, Lagos State. I started my career in 1974. I lived with my guardian, Mr and Mrs Otun. I have always wanted to be a musician. I was 13 going to 14 and I always listened to the music of King Sunny Ade, Ebenezer Obey and Sikiru Ayinde Barrister on the radio. In those days, I usually peeped into a neighbour’s house to listen to the music of these artistes on the radio. That was what motivated me to become a singer. I had my first album in 1978, singing about the late Gen. Murtala Mohammed. My dad died at the age of 78, on April 14, 1990. My mum died six years ago at the age of 98.