Review: What exactly makes Omawumi different?

by Demola Rewaju

The only challenge I have now though is a worthy name to describe the true first lady of Nigerian music… maybe we’ll just stick with the ‘Mama K’ she’s chosen for herself.

2face has several kids (how many is it now?) from different mothers but is still at the top of his game as far as the media is concerned. If he was a woman, his career would be in shambles by now. Nigeria is a patriachal society where male singers tend to enjoy more success than their female counterparts. I had almost come to believe no female artiste in this generation can achieve rave reviews and mass following like Christy Essien (Igbokwe), Onyeka Onwenu, Evi Edna Ogholi had done when I was growing up (in the 80s if you’re curious). Christy was dubbed ‘the Lady of Songs’, Onyeka was ‘the Elegant Stallion’ and Evi Edna Ogholi was… well, Evi Edna.

Weird MC, Kenny Saint Ogungbe aka Kenny Saint Saint aka Kenny Saint Brown aka Kenny Saint…*fill in the gap*, Kween, Sasha, Kel and many other ladies tried to follow in those steps by singing contemporary music but just couldn’t. It got so bad that female categories in some genres had to be deleted in major music awards. Whether it was marriage and divorce issues, sexual preferences, childbirth or just the usual ‘she must be a slut’ accusation, female singers went on the decline till the likes of Asa, Tiwa Savage and Omawumi came to dominate the stage.

There are of course others like Eva, Chidinma, Jodie, etc alll coming up real quick but in all, Omawumi stands out. Song after song, she is proving to be a big hit with many music lovers and here’s why.

First, whereas Tiwa Savage reminds us of Beyonce and Asa of Tracy Chapman or some funky white pop/soul/country singing chic, Omawumi evokes memories of typical African female singers like Yvonne Chaka-Chaka, Angelique Kidjo, Brenda Fassie, Miriam Makeba and those from Nigeria mentioned above. She doesn’t discourage this opinion with her oldies inspired ‘If You Ask Me’ video and her sample song ‘Bottom Belle’ with Flavour. Her strong voice is matchless as she seems to sing with the pent-up passion of oppressed women from the days of old. If you remember Chinyere’s performance of Omawumi’s ‘Serious Love Nwantintin’ at Project Fame, you’ll know that it is quite difficult to match Omawumi’s voice pitch and sustain it. The way her voice changes from note to note sometimes makes me think she’s singing a duet with someone else: here she shouts, there she whispers, here a chant, there a voice reverb…she has an award to prove the strength of her vocal cords.

The only other person Nigeria whose voice quality matches Omawumi’s is Yinka Davies but she seems confined to trado-classical pieces where Omawumi is unafraid to blend genres, even singing the hook on one of Dagrin’s songs.

Again, Omawumi is a born rebel. She doesn’t look like one to be content with the ‘traditional’ role of women. I hear she parties hard and smokes tobacco. This is not someone you’ll scare with late marriage, lesbianism accusations or any of the other b******t men scare women with: she just doesn’t seem to care. Of course I don’t think Goldie is scared to dazzle but there’s just a difference…

Omawumi has talent! She proved that much during the 2007 West African Idols competition with Timi Dakolo. She doesn’t need to sleep her way to the top… but I bet you can guess who did, who does, and who will need to.

When it comes to smarts, she’s no pushover. With a law degree from AAU, Ekpoma and as a Warri born and bred babe, she is the perfect combination of street but strict. How she manages to stay on top of her game while raising a child is a mystery to many but you won’t hear anyone complaining. As the geographical location of mainstream music trends away from the Niger-Delta, Omawumi’s mass appeal is a certain winner on any given day.

She’s outshining already and I’m certain she’ll outlast many on stage today. The only challenge I have now though is a worthy name to describe the true first lady of Nigerian music… maybe we’ll just stick with the ‘Mama K’ she’s chosen for herself.

 

Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

 

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Comments (6)

  1. That said, I love D'Banj nowadays. Audacity pays. And I see Tiwa Savage rocking on with audacity. #goaheadgirl

  2. Omawunmi is talented (voice-wise) and has a captivating stage-energy. She looks beautiful, CONNECTS with all types of people, she could be a comedienne if she wanted. basically she's really good.

    I'm a Tiwa Savage critic (and a critic of Beyonce too, of course), but I really like Tiwa as the Pepsi girl. It suits her. She's commercial but her music and all are not good. Same with Beyonce, fine girl, well-managed, but completely forgettable music. Completely. I can't wait to forget.

  3. Although I do not agree with comparing Tiwa Savage to Beyonce(Maybe brandy, or even monica)because their styles differ, The writer of this article does Omawunmi great justice, and analyses her beyond the superficial level.

    I also noticed Waje was left out of the article. Deliberate? Omission?

    All the same, great article, wonderful artist.

  4. You sound biased.You mentioned almost all the female vocalist without mentioning WAJE.I have seen write up about a particular artiste which sound untrue to the hear.Omawunmi and Waje are differnt that i agreed but pls be careful how you compare it's hurts.

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