More
    HomeCelebsBob Hearts Abishola's Folake Olowofoyeku to launch new Nigerian music genre

    Bob Hearts Abishola's Folake Olowofoyeku to launch new Nigerian music genre

    Published on

    In a new interview with Pulse Nigeria, the actress says that music was her first love and she will debut new songs in May.

    Before Folake Olowofoyeku started playing Abishola in the CBS sitcom Bob Hearts Abishola, music was her first love.

    After several attempts to get into the University of Lagos, at age 18 she left the country altogether and settled in New York, a city that will bring her multiple creative opportunities. Her first university major was Economics, but it wasn’t for her, so she switched to Theatre.

    For her strict father, Babatunji Olowofoyeku, a career as a performer was unacceptable. He had studied Economics and then Law, and became a Senior Advocate of Nigeria prominent enough to get his own Wikipedia page. He learned to play the piano for fun. But for his daughter to do it professionally would have been over his dead body.

    Away from her family, she felt she could be someone else, someone without expectations back home choking her down.

    Like her father, she had taken piano lessons already in Nigeria. With money she could scrape from her allowance, she bought a guitar and taught herself to play bass. Once she played for David Bowie. And many years later when the role of Abishola came, she stepped into Hollywood-level fame.

    These days, Olowofoyeku spends her time rubbing shoulders with Beyoncé at the Grammys or playing her guitar on The Kelly Clarkson Show.

    I call America my creative liberation,” she told Pulse Nigeria in February. “I was welcomed in a way I’ve never been welcomed artistically instantly.”

    But this life has not come without any emotional toll.

    Folake Olowofoyeku as Abishola and Folake at the Fashion Trust U.S. Cocktail Event [Instagram/thefolake]

    “It’s not ideal for one to leave their home and family in pursuit of better in another man’s land,” she said. “It’s been intense.” All those years she got support from only a handful of family members. Her mother was a big cheerleader who supported her career, from when she did basketball, to modelling, everything in between, and finally acting. “She came to a lot of my shows and she would come back to my dad, reenacted for my father before they both passed away,” she said.

    ALSO READ: How Layi Wasabi became one of the funniest men on Instagram

    For her father, whom she both admired and worshipped, only one profession would have assuaged his appetite, Law.

    The only thing that was respected was Law in my father’s eyes. And all his children, all 18 of us, were expected to follow suit. I have family members who became architects, family members who became doctors, but he still expected them to go to law school,” she said.

    It was this love for the Daddy, wanting to play by the Daddy’s rules that led her to acting.

    The trauma that comes with your family, the most loved people in your life telling you that you cannot accomplish something has been heavy on my heart for a long time,” she said. “And that is actually what led me to acting. I was like, OK, maybe if I go into acting, my family would be more accepting.”

    In all those years she never gave up on music, but being at the Grammys, rubbing shoulders with music royalty, made it seem both reachable and of the gravest urgency. “That’s the pinnacle of being a musician, going to the Grammys,” she said.

    She has already dropped some songs, Ehen Ehen Okay Okay and Melanin No Ni. But as Bob Hearts Abishola wraps up its fifth and final season, she is ready to take her music more seriously. “I knew from a young age that I wanted to do music. I think I’m a better musician than I am an actress,” she said. “I’m gonna be releasing new music starting in May once the show wraps. My focus would entirely be on music.”

    With her music, she wants to spread the good news of love. Coming from Nigeria, a country deeply in its era of discontent, the concept of love can sometimes come with a wicked edge. In America, through therapy, she learned to release by doing the work of mindfulness.

    I remember one of the times when I was in therapy and my therapist told me about how I should construct a sentence to somebody because of how I was feeling and I was like, ‘No one fucking talks to anybody like that.’ And she was like, ‘What? They do?’And I was laughing at her,” she said.

    Look, I’m a proper Naija person. That barrier still exists in my relationship and learning how to communicate and all that shit.”

    But how does she remain Nigerian, while incorporating the Western methods of nourishing the spirit and soul?

    I don’t think losing one’s culture is a thing to be worried about when exploring a healthier way of being, when exploring mindfulness. Because what happens when you’re exploring those things? You go inward. It’s not an external thing,” she said.

    Her go-to word these days is vitality. “Vitality is an important term for me these days. I’m looking for vitality in everything I do. I want to feed my vitality,” she said. “There’s so much more for me to offer. So much more for me to give. There’s so much more love for me to spread. And that’s my sole purpose as far as Naija is concerned, just the love that I wanted, I wanna give back.”

    When Olowofoyeku thinks about love, having done the work of readjusting how she shows it and how she wants to receive it, what comes to mind? “Peace,” she said. “But also it can be painful, the growth when you’re really trying to practice love in a healthy way. The journey towards it can be emotional. That’s what I mean by pain. It’s emotional. It’s potent. But on the other side of doing the work is peace and well-being.”

    ALSO READ: Kunle Afolayan explains why he needed to make an ‘Aníkúlápó’ series

    Even though she wants Nigerians to begin the work of spreading love and building themselves anew, the unique cultural tenors of the country have not eluded her from all her years in America.

    I think we have to acknowledge the fact that a lot of energy went into mental warfare against our people. And when that was done, the strategy was that it was going to be done to us for generations. So I’ll leave that there,” she said.

    Folake and Oprah at the Grammys [Folake]
    Folake and Oprah at the Grammys [Folake]

    I think what would be extremely helpful to us is focusing more on a change in our mindset. So then the question is, well, what can be done? We have to take it upon ourselves to educate ourselves on love. Love is the biggest thing. With all the religion we have in Naija, we should be practicing love. All religion is based on love. If we all come from a place of love, we will all be OK. But, I know how long it took me to find the concept of love. You have to have room to think about love.”

    When her music drops in May, how would she describe it?

    We’re calling it Afrojoy,” she said. “I’m pioneering that genre with the electric guitar and Afrobeats, and Afrorock. Let’s call it Afrojoy.

    Latest articles

    Toyin Abraham extends friendship to Funke Akindele after years of rivalry

    Abraham believes it's time to bury the hatchet and forge a healthy relationship with...

    Actress Stephanie Okereke-Linus, husband celebrate 13th wedding anniversary

    The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the couple got married in April,...

    Phyna wants Nigerians to join her to fight BBN sponsors

    Phyna continues her fight to redeem the prizes she won on the BBNaija show...

    A review of Ruger & BNXN's joint EP 'RnB'

    While 'RnB' makes for an enjoyable listen, it's an anticlimactic end to the event...

    More like this

    Toyin Abraham extends friendship to Funke Akindele after years of rivalry

    Abraham believes it's time to bury the hatchet and forge a healthy relationship with...

    Actress Stephanie Okereke-Linus, husband celebrate 13th wedding anniversary

    The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the couple got married in April,...

    Phyna wants Nigerians to join her to fight BBN sponsors

    Phyna continues her fight to redeem the prizes she won on the BBNaija show...