It all happened on a sunny afternoon when I made my way to meet up with Efya for an interview.After driving past what turned out to be her residence and making a few wrong turns in the neighborhood, I finally spotted the vocalist and singer on her balcony. She was on phone “I’ve spotted you”, she said. I swiftly hang up and pulled over; then briskly walked into the house. In many ways it was the moment of truth for me. A bit of chit-chat is always necessary to break the ice, and it wasn’t any different this time around.
For a performer who reflects a lot of energy, style, pure talent and star quality these traits are never absent even away from the spot light. Dressed in a T-Shirt and leggings, Efya spoke about herself as we sat on the sofa. “No matter how I categorise myself or what I categorise myself into, I will always find people like me. If I said I was eclectic, I know some eclectic people…so I’m that. I’m very active…I like moving. I’m articulate and specific too”, she pointed out. After a few minutes of the interview, it became obvious to me the description “eclectic” was perhaps the most accurate description for Efya’s personality. Our conversation was never boring as she would often drift off speaking in different accents; a bit of English then American slang then pidgin occasionally spicing it up with one or two words in twi. In all of this she made her points very clearly. Pressed to tell what made her unique, the vocalist assumed a solemn tone after which she revealed “I’ve got this voice and whenever I sing it makes me happy. I think I had that because I was always happy…I was not too reliant on people although I was mummy’s girl…I was able to make myself happy”.
There’s no doubt the young and flourishing vocalist, singer and performer is out to make a mark. Apart from picking up ‘Record of the Year’ award with her song ‘Best In Me’ at the Industry Awards in Ghana, she’s beguiled music enthusiasts across Africa with her performance at the Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards in Nigeria. Her concert at Nairobi was also described by many as a performance with a touch of excellence. One is only left to imagine what sacrifices may have been made to achieve all this. “It’s a lot of “STOP” it…you can’t do everything you want to do. I’m a very free person. I went to live on the mountain one day in order to feel the green grass and admire nature…I’m very earthy…but I had to learn to stop myself from doing certain things that I thought was ok because you realise everyone is watching you. So you put yourself on a certain level and you stay there and grow. I also learned to shut up and listen because some people are actually right…you allow yourself to learn these things so you can grow. Otherwise you’d be stuck thinking that you’re all that but you’re not. When I do a show, I ask my people what was wrong with the show…not what was right with the show because we probably know that…but what went wrong so we make sure it doesn’t happen again. So I think growth is a part of the whole thing”.
For the award-winning vocalist and performer, her voice training started in her childhood while she attended the Christian Children’s School House. “When I was younger we used to go to CCH to Grandma Stokes and Auntie Makita. There are a lot of young people out there who are into the art who used to go there and all of us have really learnt a lot. Makita and Grandma Stokes were the first people who gave me voice training. In between that you’d still have voice training because of church and the mass choir, and so I was always singing. Sometime ago I went to see a voice trainer in New York, and he’s the one I talk to about my voice now. I’m planning on going back to do some more sessions because I always like to learn more”, Efya said.
Apart from having a voice that is full of character, Efya’s presence on stage is never complete without some stylish and breathtaking costume. Talking fashion in relation to her stage presence, the singer disclosed “most of the time, we have stylists who decide all these things, but the thing is I’m really stylish myself. I don’t wake up in the morning and put on make-up…I know girls who do that, which is beautiful, but when I need to look good I’d love to look good and at that point you have people who help you…people like Amesigo, Bubemi, who is one of my close friends and a stylist in Nigeria…Bolaji who’s an amazing stylist in Nigeria, and Jane Michelle also in Nigeria. In Ghana I work with House of Kama…I’ve also worked with Sasha who’s also amazing and many of the young people around…it’s fun because sometimes you just want to look “hot”. Describing what’s hot, Efya says “nowadays you can wear a long dress and make it look hot…it’s about how you walk in it and how you even talk in it, and these are things you learn with time, but I’m grateful to have people to help me with it”. Although some performers have no barriers when it comes to fashion, the award-winning performer says “I wouldn’t go bare…not too bare. I put out a little side of my body most of the time, but that’s it”. When going on a casual outing the vocalist prefers to wear leggings or jeans and t-shirt. “I love wearing leggings or jeans and t-shirts…black or white t-shirts, a bag pack, sun glasses and a cap…I’d always have a bag pack…I love bags, but I love bag packs most of the time because I’ need to carry my laptop”.
Probing further, Efya intimated that her favourite colour was black. When asked what influenced her choice of colour she said “because it’s always there…black is ultimate. There’s so much you can see in black, but it’s pitch black and there’s nothing there, but you see something… so what do you see if it’s nothing? Then it makes you wonder, and you can make up stuff. I think black makes you think. I love black”.
Of all the other talents Efya may have, it’s clear she’s exercised her vocal cords more than anything else. Asked to imagine what else she could have done if she hadn’t become a singer, Efya was quick to respond “I would have been a film director…would have gone to NAFTI finished a directing course then work in my parents company making movies.
I’m still going to do that”. Coming from a family of filmmakers, the singer admits she has a thing for movies and that she’s more into serials. “I’m all about my ‘Dexter’ right now. I love it because it’s mysterious. Sometimes you still have your comedy but this is a serious story. You have something that’s interesting”.
Discussing how challenging it is for young and up-coming African artists to cope with foreign influences while maintaining their true identity, the award-winning singer echoed “this is a new generation of music; there are no rules any more. So anybody can do anything as long as you do it well. Nobody wants to hear so much noise anymore. If you’re going to make afro beat, make it well…if you’re going to make afro beat and mix it with techno make it really good. It’s about good music now…nobody is joking with their music anymore…because people are making money and changing the world”. Efya added that if there was anyone thing she wanted to change in the world it to bring about peace. It’s her opinion that it’s only through peace that individuals could be fulfilled.
As we concluded the interview, Efya revealed that much of her success was due to her parents. “My parents have made me who I am…they put everything inside me…the films and the music. In the end, it’s about making the two people who matter the most in my life happy. I’m grateful to them”.