When Law and Music Collide
Diwari Peterside was born in London and is a lawyer having earned her LLB at Middlesex University, London and a Masters in Entertainment Law at the University of Westminster (2009). However, music has always been her core passion. Diwari’s musical talent was discovered while she was at nursery school and it was gradually nurtured through high school to university. While schooling in London, she was a soloist in her church choir for eight years and even had the rare privilege of performing at the Royal Albert Hall. After her education, she returned to Nigeria in 2010 to attend the Law School. While there, she received her parent’s blessings to pursue music. In 2011, while working at an oil firm, Peterside heard about the second season of the Nigerian Idol Music talent show. She auditioned and quit her job when she emerged as a finalist in the competition that soon served as a springboard for her music career.
Known by her stage name, DIWARI, she is a contemporary soul recording and live music artiste and has released two singles; Tombo and Ogun Mi, her official debut, which enjoyed much airplay with a music video later shot in Ireland. She has also recorded several cover songs and is well known for her powerful vocals and energetic stage presence. Alongside performing with her live band, she is presently working on her debut album. DIWARI is also a budding actor, having made appearances on TV shows such as Hotel Majestic, Dowry and the Ndani TV comedy series, Officer Titus. Adebimpe Adebambo caught up with her to find out more about her future projects.
Why did you also choose to pursue a career in music?So who is DIWARI and why did you choose to use your birth name on stage?
I’m all about embracing my heritage. The African culture is beautiful and I believe my name, which is Ibani for “A Peaceful Home”, from Rivers State, is special.
Does music run in your family and what was it like growing up?
We are music lovers in my family so I grew up around a lot of it. My father had huge vinyl and CD collections from Mozart to Eric Clapton to Teddy Pendergrass. As I grew older, I discovered a host of other new age artistes like Whitney Houston, Toni Braxton and TLC. As a young adult, I also dabbled with gospel music. The end result is a very eclectic musical taste.
Why did you also choose to pursue a career in music?
I didn’t grow up thinking I wanted to be a professional singer; I discovered I could sing at 10 years old. I knew I loved it but didn’t consider it an option, as I had to “go to school” and follow a “real career” path. I expressed myself by getting involved in church choirs and music bands but it was always as a hobby. After I completed Law School, I decided I didn’t want to live my life without trying to be all I could be, so I made a decision to switch careers. It seemed sudden to many, but to those who knew me, it had been a long time coming.
You have described your music as contemporary soul, what is it about this genre that inspires you?
The truth is I describe it that way simply because I’m apparently required to choose a genre. The world likes to box you in. You’re either this or that. Labels. Music as a whole inspires me. I love the Spice Girls, Anthony Hamilton, Nas and Fela. Expression is what inspires me… the melodies, harmony arrangements, vocals, the lyrics that make you think, smile or nod, the instrumentation; then the emotions they evoke, the syncopation that makes you move, or the haunting strings that make you cry.
Which musicians inspire you?
See above! (laughs).
The names are endless because songs also move me, not artistry alone. I love the old school Etta James and Frank Sinatra. I don’t play with Black gospel like Marvin Sapp and R’n’B guys Boyz 2Men and so on. I like new school Adele, Sia and the timeless Michael Jackson. I also enjoy highlife; Victor Uwaifo’s Guitar Boy is my jam.
You hold a Masters in Entertainment Law, which is so necessary today in Nigeria. Do you see yourself leaving music for active practice in the near future?
You can see how a love keeps following one! At the time I did my Masters, I felt it was the closest I would get to doing anything music related. I don’t take it for granted and definitely will not waste it. However, even when in legal practice, I could never leave music completely. Anyone who has a passion will understand it never fully goes away no matter how you try to subdue it. So yes, I would still have my own home recording studio and live band, as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) or a Supreme Court judge by God’s grace.
How do you prepare for your stage performances?
Now that I’m a live music artiste, it means I spend a lot more time with my band. I’m obsessed with rehearsing, unfortunately logistics and other issues sometimes prevent me from putting in the hours I would like. My band members get tired at times but I would want to keep going until I’m satisfied with the results, even after my voice has gone croaky with fatigue. That’s the perfectionist in me. It’s just never is good enough. I’m told all creatives suffer from this illness.
The night before a performance I slow down, talk little and drink warm water and honey. I pray to God for help as always, and I tell myself, ‘DIWARI you got this!’, even when there are occasions I feel I ‘don’t gorrit’.
The London music scene is familiar to you, how different is it from the Lagos one?
Hmm. Both cities are hubs for entertainment, fashion and glamour. From an artiste’s point of view, I guess the difference is, as a local, you could build your brand with better control in Lagos and cater to your niche audience if need be. London is a melting pot of several nationalities, so it’s a larger market in which to break.
Where will you want to see the Nigerian music industry by 2020 and what improvements do you wish for?
That’s in 4 years. I stared at that date for a while; it looked so futuristic. As though it was a Jetsons-age period in time set for my grandchildren. But it’s only 4 years and that’s not a long way off. I do hope we would have regularized the royalties payment system and that we would have stopped giving out our music for free. Music production costs a lot of money and it’s true value can’t be appreciated if attained free of charge. Also indie artists like myself need to be able to recoup expenses and earn a living. Hmm. I talked only about money here…
DIWARI is also a budding actress. How did you develop an interest in acting and how fully are you going to explore that route?
I acted a bit in school and church plays as a child. It was again not something I thought I would be doing in the future. After shooting my debut video for Ogun Mi, the director told me I had an untapped skill. Moving forward, I decided to explore it, and got my first acting job with a small role on MNET’s Hotel Majestic. Acting is a lot of work but no one sees that. I’ve enjoyed it so far, but I would like to do more varied roles to expand my repertoire.
What do you have to tell aspiring artistes out there?
We are all aspiring for something. Nothing comes easy and nothing is handed to anybody so hard and smart work is essential. I think remaining grounded, focused and prayerful are most important. Appreciate the people in your corner. And don’t be afraid of failing, its part of the journey.
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