By Remi Oluwoye and Ifunanya Duru
For Oluwafunmilayo Ibukunoluwa Ajayi, popularly known as Funmi Sax, blowing the saxophone is more than a passion, it’s life. In fact, Funmi comes across as one of the few female saxophonists Nigeria has produced.
Inspired by legendary Kenny G, Funmi has to her credit an album entitled, Grace. In this interview, she reveals why she chose to play saxophone among several other instruments. She also talks about her relationship. Enjoy it.
Tell us briefly about yourself
I am Oluwafunmilayo Ibukunoluwa Ajayi but my stage name is Funmi Sax. I went to Emmanuel Primary School, Lagos. After that, I attended Ojota Secondary School but finished in Ojodu Grammar School. I have OND from Lagos State Polytechnic. I also attended MUSON School of Music for two years. I am a level seven-graded and certified saxophonist. Now, I’m doing my BSC in Music at University of Lagos.
What prompted you to play saxophone and not other instrument?
What prompted me was Kenny G’s music. I really love Kenny G’s music. He plays saxophone and whenever he plays the instrument, it touches my heart. Saxophone is a soul instrument and I am kind of an emotional person. Saxophone can make someone to be emotional. When you listen to the right tone and the right sound, it makes you emotional. That is what made me fall in love with saxophone.
When actually did you start playing saxophone?
I started learning how to play saxophone 15 years ago but I started going for shows 12 years ago.
As a woman, how do you get the energy to play the wind instrument?
My energy is in-built (laughs) because it’s the Holy Spirit that gives me. It is not easy; some people say I play the instrument like it is a toy. I have the grace to do what I am doing because God made it easy for me.
If you were not playing saxophone what other instrument would you be playing?
I will be playing drums because that’s what I started with. I still play the drums occasionally but for the fun of it, not professionally.
What was your parents’ reaction to your chosen career?
I am happy because my parents never disagreed with my chosen career. It was like a prophet had already told them that this girl was going to do something different because I am the only one doing music in my family of six.
When not playing saxophone, what do you do?
I just relax (laughs). I relax mostly on Mondays because my weekends are always occupied with shows and events. Everyone needs sleep, but when not sleeping, I watch movies or take ice cream. I attend parties most times not to perform but to have fun.
Aside music, what else do you do?
I have a small-scale business; I sell musical instruments like saxophone etc.
What inspires you in life?
What inspires me is when people give testimonies of what God has done for them through my music. It makes me feel that I’m not just blowing noise and that God is with me when I play.
Are you currently in any relationship?
Is your partner comfortable with your musical career?
He is very comfortable with my musical career and he’s also supportive. I don’t regret having him as my partner.
Is your partner also in the music industry?
He is not in the music industry but he is in love with music.
Can you do a comparison between secular and gospel music?
They are both music. One is spirit filled and the other is by flesh. When you hear gospel music, you can weigh the spirit behind it, but secular music is different from gospel music.
What special event do you have coming up?
Yes, my annual concert is coming up in December but I will unveil it publicly next month. I am inviting everyone including The Sun newspaper to come and enjoy God’s presence.
Do you plan having collaboration with any artiste at the event?
Yes, I am looking forward to collaborating with Frank Edwards and Nathaniel Bassey. I am planning to have collaboration with some other gospel artistes during my concert in December.
Where do you see your musical career in the next five years?
In the next five years, my musical career will get better. Where I am now is not where I was five years ago, it has gotten better. Five years ago, I was not having international invitations but now I have international invitations to minster. So, definitely in the next five years, I will not be where I am now and by God’s grace I will be getting global invitations.
What advice do you have for those looking up to you?
My advice for those who look up to me is that they should be consistent because I can play other instruments and also sing but I was consistent on saxophone. If I was only singing, I might not be where I am today, so stick to what God wants you to do and focus on it. You can even be greater than Funmi Sax. Hold unto God and He will direct you.