By Tony Ogaga
Dark complexioned beauty and opera singer, Abiodun Koya has come a long way. From performing at The Democratic Convention to performing at The White House, the vocal powerhouse who relocated from Nigeria in 2001 in search of the golden fleece of education in the US has seen it all and done it all. The graduate of Business Administration and Voice in this chat with the Entertainer opens up on her career, why she recently dropped a pop single entitled Flourish Me and her ideal man.
How did you come into music and at what age did you discover you were cut out to be a singer?
I was lucky to be born into a music loving family. My entire family are classical music lovers. My earliest memories go back to when I was three. By age six I had started writing songs and when I was eight-years old I knew I wanted to become a singer. My only addiction has been music. I could go for days without food as long as I am occupied writing or hearing or co-producing music. Growing up was fun. I had an amazing childhood. Being the last child I was showered with so much love. I was also a radio-head because I knew almost all the songs and commercials on radio.
Who were your influencers and how do you get inspiration?
I was brought up with classical music and my influencers were mostly classical composers. Andrea Bocelli, David Foster, Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Luciano Pavarotti, Sarah Brightman, Leontyne Price and Kathleen Battle are my influences. I was also influenced by pop artistes like Celine Dion and Whitney Houston. I work with angels for inspiration. Sometimes they give me just a melody and I have to write the lyrics but most times they give me the songs readymade both music and lyrics already prepared. I think that is awesome.
Sometimes I write from other people’s experiences or mine.
You performed at the White House and the Democratic Convention, how did it feel?
When I remember those moments I am overwhelmed with gratitude and amazement. I couldn’t sleep for nights! I would toss and turn in bed and rehearse my songs in my head. And being a perfectionist did help matters. I remember going grocery shopping, pushing the cart and rehearsing the songs I was to sing. The atmosphere was very presidential; I had my heart in my mouth and was delicately nervous until when I mounted the stage but I managed to give a glass shattering performance!
Did you ever get to meet President Obama and what did he tell you?
I didn’t get to meet him but he was all smiles throughout my performance. For me, that was gold; priceless!
We understand you have a new single, Flourish Me. Why the move from opera to pop music?
I want to do something different and incorporate African rhythm and elements into my music. After 12 years of training and performing classical music aka white man’s music, I want to fulfill the call to my heritage.
As you move into pop music, what are your fears and expectations?
Honestly I have no fears but great expectations. I am not the kind of person that is afraid to make mistakes.
Tell us about life in the US?
It was awesome! I have great coaches, mentors and friends. I do what I know how to do best and I strive to conquer new territory. I am truly grateful for the amazing opportunities the US has afforded me.
What is Flourish Me all about and what inspired it?
Flourish Me is about being in a relationship where you grow and blossom. It also encourages being in a positive relationship where you can be nurtured, be right minded and put on a pedestal Most people today are in abusive relationships which is totally un-necessary and unhealthy. When you are in a great and lovely relationship, you prosper, you are confident, you glow and you are at peace. Flourish Me is a true story!
Which Nigerian artiste do you want to do collabos with?
I am very selective but I have about two or three Nigerian artistes for now. When the time comes you will see them.
How would you rate the Nigerian music scene?
I see the hard work of Nigerian artistes but I would like to see more depth lyrically. I would like to also see Nigerian artistes go for professional music and voice training.
Could you describe your ideal man?
Gosh! My ideal man is kind, giving, down to earth, seriously intelligent, humorous, a deep thinker, supportive, ambitious, honest, wise, very patient, God fearing and loyal. I simply cannot stand men who are liars, selfish, double faced, egocentric, heartless and vain. I am talking about men who like to talk about themselves, show off and are all talk and no action. Such men lose their respect instantly from me. I admire a man that can take a stand that is not popular and be unmoved by peer or societal pressures. I am talking about a man with foresight that is secure, organised, affectionate, brave and courageous even in the face of adversity.
Are you in a relationship? If yes tell us about it?
I don’t like to talk about my personal life but I am in a relationship and he is not a Nigerian but American. He is my biggest fan and encourages me. He likes to be in the background and I love to cook Nigerian dishes for him. One of the things I love most about our relationship is that we understand each other and we are very good at communicating with each other.