Last week, Tiwa Savage made headlines following the announcement of an exclusive global recording agreement with Universal Music Group (UMG).
Under the agreement, her future music will be released internationally through UMG’s operations in more than 60 countries worldwide.
We had a super fun interview with Tiwa Savage, whose story is nothing short amazing and inspiring. From her days as a young singer/songwriter and Berkeley College of Music graduate who was hoping to take the Nigerian music industry by storm, to releasing songs that garnered massive airplay, and now, becoming one of the biggest stars out of Africa.
BellaNaija’s Mercy Akamo caught up with an obviously excited Tiwa at her super chilled and comfy home in Lagos. She spoke about what the new business arrangement means for her, the recent criticism of “international deals” and how her career is inspiring African women to grow in the music business.
Moments Leading to the Contract
The deal was almost unbelievable for her, she says, but she knew it was real when she met Sir Lucian Grainge in LA, alongside Alan Granite, Joe Karts. When they started discussing timelines, radio tours, release dates, and so on, she knew it’s happening!
Finalizing the contract “took close to a year… going back and forth with different labels,” she says.
“It was like a journey… for me to also learn about the company and also about signing an artist’s deal – the benefits of it and also some of the possible disadvantages and just weighing options and just figuring out a deal that works well for me and allows me to represent Africa and put my music out the right way.”
Tiwa has been in the game since she was a teenager doing back up vocals for George Michael. At other times, she’d done vocals for Mary J. Blige, Chaka Khan, Emma Bunton, Kelly Clarkson, among others.
Prior to that, Tiwa played the trombone for her high school orchestra in London, where she moved to at age 11, from Lagos, Nigeria.
Tiwa was a part of the final 24 in the 2006 edition of The X Factor in the UK, unfortunately, she didn’t get to the next stage, but it didn’t stop her from forging ahead.
In 2009, she signed a songwriting deal with Sony/ATV Music Publishing where she wrote for Babyface, Kat Deluna, Fantasia Barrino, Monica, and Mýa. She was also a background vocalist on Whitney Houston‘s “I Look to You” album released in 2009.
After a business administration degree, a music degree, and performance on stage with stars like Sting, 50 Cent, The Black Eyed Peas, Eminem, Robbie Williams, and Destiny’s Child, among others, Tiwa decide it was time to come back to the Motherland.
She’s worked so hard and now all that is paying off, and this new contract is “like a reinforcement that I’m ready for the global market,” she says.
What the UMG Deal Means to Her
“The fact that they’re willing to sign a female Afrobeats artist and also the fact that they’re allowing me to maintain my style, sound, and brand, but on a global level meant a lot to me. It felt like everything that’s been going on in my journey led to this point. It felt right. It felt like it was the right time. Felt good that I hadn’t been working in vain,” she adds.
Tiwa tells us her new contract is “a really great deal” and the excitement of everyone involved is “worth more than anything I can put a price to”.
Tiwa says that different labels, management companies, and agencies had approached since about a year ago, and she began to take those interests seriously.
“I was doing a lot more shows outside Nigeria/Africa and I felt like it was time to give my music on a much bigger platform,” she says.
On Burna Boy’s Criticism of “International Deals”
Days ago, Burna Boy addressed the subject of music artists and contracts with international record labels, saying that he feels “so sorry” for Nigerian artists “jumping into these international deals”.
Tiwa tells us that she thinks Burna “is absolutely right.”
“I think it’s important for artists to be 100% sure and aware of what they’re getting themselves into, especially when it comes to contracts. Burna is 1000% correct. People took it out of context, maybe. It’s a piece of great advice to any artist: make sure you see your lawyers and do your personal research,” she says.
She adds: “It took me a year to conclude this deal. It took that long for a reason. It took a year to convince them that I don’t want this and I want that and this is the reason why. They understood. I feel blessed in the position I’m in. I have an amazing deal with UMG and I agree with Burna that while we’re pushing Africa to the World, we need to be careful that we don’t lose ourselves. I think that’s what he’s trying to say.”
Tiwa agrees that you won’t always get 100% what you want from any deal, so, there may be advantages and disadvantages of international deals.
“It depends on what you’re looking for as an artist and what stage you’re at in your career. It’s important to not get lazy or comfortable as an artist when you sign a deal. You have to work your way to become a priority. You have to put your talent to work and sacrifice time. I believe every contract can work in your favor. However, make sure you don’t get into a bad deal in the first place,” she says.
After the deal was announced, people began to ask questions about her relationship with Don Jazzy‘s Mavin Records, which she joined in 2012 as a pioneer member around the same time she became the first African female Pepsi Ambassador.
Tiwa has been with Mavin Records since the beginning of her music career in Africa till date, and she’s made a lot of achievements within that period.
In December 2018, Tiwa, together with Beyoncé, JAY-Z, Pharrell, Wizkid, D’Banj, Soweto Gospel Choir, among others, headlined the Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100 in South Africa
Tiwa has a management and publishing deal with Roc Nation, signed in June 2016. She has two albums – Once Upon a Time (2013) and R.E.D (2015) – and an E.P Sugarcane (2017) to her name.
She went on to become the first woman to win the MTV Europe Music Awards for Best African Act (2018).
With her new deal with UMG, it’s clear that Tiwa has left Mavin Records but Tiwa wouldn’t want to use the word “left”.
“Contractually yes, I guess I’m not with Mavin, but I don’t think I can ever leave Mavin,” she says. “It’s an emotional feeling. I’m part of the family. I’m still close to everyone,” she adds.
Her Current Relationship with Don Jazzy
Jazzy had shared an emotional farewell message after the UMG contract was announced on May 2nd.
The award-winning producer and music mogul wrote: “It’s been an epic journey with you and we are very proud of what we have achieved together. As you start this new chapter in your life we want you to know that we are solidly behind you and can’t wait for the world to see what we have always believed you can be.”
Tiwa Savage equally shared an emotional response, narrating how the label and Don Jazzy stood by her and made sure her brand was kept alive when she took a break to give birth.
“I only want to make you proud of me. Not every superhero has an S on their chest. You are my superhero DON DORO BUCCI. 7 years, 7 the number of perfection. I LOVE YOU ALWAYS AND FOREVER. Mavin 4life,” Tiwa wrote as a response to Jazzy’s post.
Tiwa tells us that “Don Jazzy is just an amazing guy.”
“I’ve never met anyone like him who’s so selfless. A few people might think our messages to each other is just for the gram, but honestly, 1000%, it’s very very real,” she adds.
On upcoming projects, Tiwa says “there are definitely major collaborations in the works.”
Social Media Break
Tiwa took a break from social media last December, and she’s only recently just settling back in, majorly on Twitter but not even as frequent as before. She tells us why and how it all began.
“When I first took a break, I was just getting caught up in social media, checking my phone once I wake up. Then I was like, I’m just gonna take one week off and I started enjoying it. Then one week became two weeks, and two weeks became a month and that was it.”
“Within that period we finalized the deal and I was like, maybe it’s time to rebrand and start afresh. I didn’t actually start it because of this deal. I just wanted to take a break. Then I started deleting pictures because my page looks cluttered and I wanted my page to have a theme.”
When we asked Tiwa to share her advice for people who are juggling between managing a career and a family, she tells us she’s “looking for advice too.”
But she shares some points: “You have to have a strong support system. Also, my faith in God is strong and I believe God will give strength.”
She continues: “Women are a lot stronger than they get credit for. Being a mum wasn’t a struggle for me. It came easy for me. It’s just natural. Just like I wake up every morning and don’t have to think I have to brush my teeth, I just know to do it and I do it.”
“On the work side, it doesn’t feel like work to me. I could be in the studio for 10 -12 hours a day and it doesn’t feel like work because I’m doing what I’m created to do. So, if there’s something you’re passionate about, you owe it to yourself and God to pursue it and you should,” she adds.
Tiwa has a little counsel for aspiring artists in Africa: “Opportunity favors the prepared.”
Today’s artists are at an advantage, she says.
“For now, you can get your music to a lot more people, faster than before. You can start to build your own fanbase from social media before even considering management or record labels,” Tiwa adds.
Popular Actress On The Run After Borrowing Huge Money
Information KUBILIVE is picking up has it that a popular Ghanaian actress(name withheld) is currently on the run for borrowing a huge sum of money from another person a long period.
According to the source, the creditor has been chasing the said actress since 2016 but all efforts to retrieve the money have proved futile.
And the creditor who couldn’t bear it any longer decided to sue the said actress who borrowed the money to live a lavish lifestyle on social media.
This was revealed by the founder of Ghanacelebrities.com Chris Vincent who has promised to drop more revelation this weekend to shame the said actress who claims to be staying in Trassaco.
He posted: “A Ghanaian actress is on the run after borrowing huge monies from another person.
Since 2016, the creditor has been chasing her without any success so she sued her and the court has awarded judgement against the actress.
These our actresses and big things—I mean bigsm but nothing at the bank.
The house you see with the notice of the suit plastered on is where that actress lives. On social media, she will be telling us she lives at Trassaco, probably.
I have all the court documents and I will be releasing them in a GC exclusive publication this weekend—right after the married Ghanaian footballer who has allegedly had a child with a certain young Ghanaian woman story.
Tag a friend to let him or her know that we have started the weekend!”
See photos of the house and court document below.
Beyoncé Was Overshadowed On Her Own Album : Sarkodie
Ghana biggest hip hop artist, Michael Owusu Addo popularly known as Sarkodie in Showbiz has finally commented on Beyonce’s The Lion King: The Gift album which features Shatta Wale on ‘Already’ on the album.
Many celebrities have reacted since the album was released, their reviews have been positive so far. They have applauded Beyoncé for featuring several top African acts on the album.
The Album is genuinely African, it oozed original African vibes overshadowing Beyoncé’s usual RnB/pop style.
Commenting on this, Sarkodie wrote;
“Queen didn’t mind being a guest on the album!!! That’s “POWER” Not the usual “touch of afrobeats” its AFROBEATS !! Represented well”
Sarkodie did not however directly refer to Shatta Wale, the only Ghanaian artiste featured on the album. He only applauded Beyoncé for representing Afrobeats well in the album.
In other news, Sarkodie has been heavily criticized by Shatta Wale and several of SM fans calling him a hypocrite who is not genuinely happy about Shatta Wale being featured on the album.
The Lion King : The Gift Album is inspired by Live-action remake of Disney’s classic animation; The Lion King in which Beyoncé plays Nala. The album was released today 19th July 2019.
The album features several top artistes from Africa which include; Shatta Wale, Wizkid, Tiwa Savage, Yemi Alade, Tekno, Burna Boy and Mr Eazi.
GuiltyBeatz Now Charges Double After Recording With Beyonce
Ghanaian music producer GuiltyBeatz according to sources has started charging double the amount he takes per production after working with American songstress Beyonce.
The talented producer is credited to have produced three songs on Beyonce’s Lion King album which was released today.
GuiltyBeatz in an earlier interview revealed that after working with Beyonce he would now increase his charges.
On the role he played in getting Shatta Wale on the album, he revealed that he played no role and even got to know of Shatta’s inclusion when the tracklist officially came out some few days ago.
He produced Beyoncé & Shatta Wale – “Already”, Beyoncé – “Find Your Way Back (Circle of Life)” and Beyoncé, Tiwa Savage & Mr. Eazi – “Keys To The Kingdom”.
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