Tiwa Savage achieved another milestone in her successful music career as she became the first female Nigeria singer to be featured on foremost American entertainment channel, E! for its new series titled the E! VIP series, a mini documentary on some of Africa’s successful entertainers.
Tiwa Savage took her fans through her journey into music, her relationship with former manager/estranged hubby, Tee Billz, the legacy she wants to leave behind, the joy and impact of motherhood and working towards a worldwide acceptance as a music artiste.
On her parents’ stand
“Since I was a kid, I knew I wanted to be an entertainer but African parents they were like No. Choose one. Doctor, Lawyer, Engineer or one of those ones. Music is not an option. So I had to go to school to study business and accounts.”
Tiwa’s dad who was also featured in the documentary confirmed her passion for music at a young age and said he gave her a condition that if indeed music was her calling, she would have to get a first degree in a professional course.
He said, “She has always wanted to do music and go into music. Growing up, she used to organise musical shows for all the children in the estate and she will lead the group. So my condition was that if you want to go into music, you must have your first degree, finish your secondary education, go to university and after that you can go into music.”
On knowing she has a calling
“So when I graduated, I said to my dad ‘Here is your degree, I have given you want you want and I’m going to do music’. They were like ‘No, you can’t move to America, you need money’ So I got a job as a trainee accountant and I got tired of counting other people’s money.I wanted to start counting my own money because I thought Hey there is a whole lot of money around here. What’s going on? That was a transition. It got to a point that every morning I’ll wake up and I’ll be depressed going to work. I wanted to sing and at that point I was prepared to lose everything. That’s when I knew there was a big calling on my life to do this.”
On her former manager/husband, Tee Billz
“I moved to America. I went to study music at the Berkley college of music. Then I moved to L.A. Now when you move to L.A. There are a lot of beautiful people there. Their skin is glowing, their teeth is perfect, their hair is amazing and I’m like looking around and for someone who doesn’t wax, I have like a uni-brow.”
“I needed to do something and I met my manager who is now my husband. He saw me and was like ‘you could be really pretty if you put an effort into it’ and I was like ‘wait what do you mean’ and he was like ‘you need to lose a little weight, wax your legs; that might be attractive. So he just literally put me through this whole program and told me that ‘the music is great, the talent is there but 80% of it is branding’. ‘So if you want to do the tom-boy thing, you have to take it to the extreme if you want to be hot and sexy you have to take it to the extreme. So I started learning how to wear heels and he basically just groomed me into the image of Tiwa Savage that we see now.”
“When I first met him I felt he was very arrogant. He was very tall, dark, handsome and very confident. He oozes that and he always expects that from me as well. So when I first met him, I didn’t fall in love. It wasn’t love at first sight. Although when he first met me, he said to me ‘so it’s either two things; I am either going to manage you or marry you. So I was just like ‘What! You
are so full of yourself, I would never date you, let alone marry you’. So obviously, we decided he was going to manage me because I turned down the other option.”
“We worked so closely together and I discovered this soft emotional guy. One who gave up everything for my career. He had a great business in L.A but he moved to Nigeria because he really believed in me more than I believed in myself. So gradually I just started seeing in him, this person. So it was inevitable. I tried to fight it. It can’t happen and I couldn’t help it.”
On their wedding day argument
“So we just had this little tiff outside and we are like arguing and everyone is like ‘welcome the beautiful bride and the groom and we are dancing in and he’s just like grumbling and it’s on camera. So everyone watching are like ‘Wait where you guys just arguing so it’s real but there are cute moments and real moments”
On her son, Jamil
“Every time I think of that little man, it’s a mixture of emotions. I’m happy, blessed but sometimes I’m also a little scared. He’s so precious. You and I know how cruel this world can be but sometimes I feel like he should just stay in this age where i can always protect him. Every time when I wake up and I see him, all of that just goes through my mind makes me work so much harder. I work so much more because I want leave a legacy for him. I want him to be proud of his mum. I want him to one day look at this interview with his wife and be like ‘that’s my mama’. You know.”
How motherhood and pregnancy scars has had an impact on her brand.
“My brand is built on the young, sexy, fresh, sassy, female singer and now I got a few rules here and there. Stretch marks (laughs) but I have to embrace those scars because that’s what reminds me of the miracle that I had. So I like to talk about it a lot especially to African women because we hide behind it and we don’t talk about the real issues that comes with it. The pressure to lose weight. It’s fine if you never looked how you did before. You had a baby, if you had to choose between getting your old body back and choosing that baby, I’m sure everybody would choose that baby. So I will embrace my new body because I have a son.”
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