Set to play WOMAD this year, multi-award winning Afro-pop songstress Wiyaala has come a long way since her humble background growing up in the small Ghanaian village of Funsi.
The last few years have seen Wiyaala rise from rags to riches. Now on the cusp of becoming a worldwide star, the singer hopes to inspire others by spreading her message of love and peace, whilst also raising awareness of the injustices still taking place to this day in third-world countries all over the world.
Her new self-titled album Wiyaala has already received nationwide success in Ghana. She now hopes to establish a global audience.
The record is a selection of vibrant Afro-pop anthems sung largely in Sissala, but with a poppy catchiness inspired by Western Culture. Check out the tracks on Soundcloud here.
As the singer explains: ‘My album is the product of my environment as a young girl growing up in a West African Village at a time when the influences of Western TV and video first impacted on the African villager …You are hearing my African heritage fusing with the sounds and techniques of western production.’
Wiyaala rose to recognition after coming first place in a 2012 Vodafone Icons reality show as part of the group Black n Peach, a year earlier emerging as the second runner-up in Ghana’s Stars of the Future talent show. She has become famous despite little radio airplay, rejecting the music industry’s ruthless commercialist side and becoming famous as a result of her live performances and what she stands for. Grace Jones, Tina Turner and Angelique Kidjo are artists that she is sometimes compared to.
Often referred to as the ‘Young Lioness of Africa’, she has become renowned for her activism, working to abolish child marriage and abuse in her home continent as well as campaigning for women’s right to education – freedoms that we take for granted here in the Western world.
Her fierce ideals are a result of her impoverished upbringing and being a first-hand witness to social injustice. ‘At school, I have seen young teenage girls pulled out of the classroom to be married off. The next time you see them they are pregnant and selling pepper in the market… When I was small, we were often hungry. Sometimes we would catch a mouse, roast it and share it amongst 3 or 4 children.’
She is currently working on projects with The Ministry of Gender and Child Protection and UNICEF in Ghana.
Click above for the whole uncut interview and see the session below.