In Conversation with Maka

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Alternative Nigerian singer and songwriter Maka’s early influences include regular choir sessions at her local church. Despite a background in law, she is well known today for her unique brand of music – a fusion of several genres like soul, hip-hop and jazz. In this interview, she shares her experiences.

You enrolled in the church choir at 6, when did you know music was perhaps your calling?

According to my mother, I already started singing at the age of 3. Music has always been around me, but it wasn’t until I was about 15 that I was invited to sing at a concert. I performed an original song and received a standing ovation. This made me feel I had a shot at taking my love for music to the next phase.

How have you negotiated your career as a female musician in Nigeria?

I do not necessarily see myself as a female musician in the industry. I am a musician and all I do is put in the required work to get my desired result. I carry myself with respect, treat others with respect and also expect same.

What’s your take on the alternative scene in Nigeria, and how has this movement influenced your narrative?

The alternative scene has a mind of its own in my opinion. Everyone knows what they want; the creative control independent and/or alternative artistes have whether sonic or visual, can’t be compared to what exists in the pop/mainstream industry. There is this freedom to express oneself and whoever loves it, loves it. It’s that simple.

Can you tell us a bit about your recent single, Daddy’s Letter

My dad passed away when I just 6 years old so we didn’t get to say goodbye to each other. I wrote the song as sort of a goodbye from him to me, to get a little bit of closure. I tried to look into his mind and tried to explain to the 6-year-old me why he wasn’t going to be around anymore. I also hoped the song could speak to everyone who had lost a loved one. Looking back, I am happy I released this song because I have received great feedback.

You are set to headline FEMME Lagos, a women-only live musical showcase; what future does a collaboration like this propose?

Yes. It basically fosters better relationships with women in the industry. I know I said earlier that I didn’t see gender in this game. However, I can’t ignore the fact that I am in a male-dominated industry and that more women need to be seen making major moves together as it inspires other women in general that any and everything is possible once we decide to put in the required work.

A culture enthusiast, Christina Ifubaraboye holds a degree in mass communications from the University of Hertfordshire. Christina's interests lie in cinema, social justice, the media and the role it maintains in the digital age, while her focus is on challenging commonly misconstrued narratives in society.

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