For one who started off being the class music box, Niniola has risen through the ranks, as well as established herself as a name to watch out for in the Nigerian music industry.
Speaking on what inspired her foray into music, Niniola says she was first 'a bathroom singer,' and then a 'classroom voice.'
‘You see, music started for me since childhood. I was a bathroom singer growing up. I moved on from there and became the classroom voice all through secondary school and I would sing and entertain my friends whenever we had free time in school.
‘My mum kicked against my doing music initially, but these days she’s been proud of me and supportive. I can only thank God for everything.'
She however credits Project Fame from where she emerged in 2013 as the third-runner up, for 'shaping her.'
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'It’s not been easy, frankly, but Project Fame was a great stepping stone. It helped shape me up. The hurdles prior to that time are experiences I’ll always cherish. The hurdles were defining, they changed me, made me stronger… but you see it was always going to be music for me so there was no going back. Growing up I didn’t go out much. I basically just maximized my staying indoors by playing all the records in the house and honing my singing.’
After leaving Project Fame, the school administrator turned singer did not rest on her laurels. Instead, she dished out a few singles including, Ibadi, Soke, Gbowode and Akara Oyibo, despite what she termed 'a bumpy ride.'
‘I have been busy, busy with a whole lot. I have been recording, playing at gigs and recording even more stuff. Most of these aren’t released as we speak. I do music full-time. I haven’t had any collaborations yet because I want the people to get a full dose of me first. I have a few more surprises for them and I’ll want those out first before partnering with anyone on a record. Beyond this, when the time is right for a collaboration you’ll hear.'
She is original and Afrocentric which is why many will find it hard to say she isn’t fast creating a niche for her brand with the music. So far, her style has our attention and she has even more potentials to seal the deal with a resounding album. We hope.
'My album drops early next year and it is going to be about me, my reflections, my style and expressions, my immediate environment and what inspires my music and all of that,' Niniola tells Legit.ng. 'I’m recording materials for the album already and it’ll be a great one in the end.’
She sounds like one who is here, has seen, and is set to conquer and once again, it is all thanks to Project Fame.
‘With Project Fame, I was more like battle-ready, I was prepared for whatever the industry was bringing, I was fortified for the next phase of my music. And God’s been faithful. I took the money I made off Project Fame and looked out for a producer, a management team as well as catered to related expenses for my career to launch fully.'
She also gives a lot of kudos to her producer, Sarz.
'I didn’t just settle for Sarz, there were a lot of options. But he was the one guy whose production style resonated with me. He understands this music thing. Sarz is a monster. When it comes to my genre of music he knows his stuff. Plus Sarz is a guy who listens. My music style is ‘Afro House’ given I’m very Afrocentric. Also I could do R&B if I want, and with him I’m certain to get a proper representation of my art and sound. It’s been great.’
Niniola comes across as one currently occupied with her music and music alone so Legit.ng was forced to ask if there was no special person or activity that helps her unwind during her off times.
‘My man, the special person knows himself. I could really be a loner. I could be introverted and engrossed in working on my craft, but he is understanding and [he] likes that I do my thing. He is supportive as well, and I love that there’s a real understanding between us. I usually don’t like to talk about my private life, but I’m doing good in that aspect. He knows himself. We are cool.’
Despite her apparent love for music, Niniola says an alternate career would have been teaching, She is also involved in charity work.
‘I currently have a charity organization and the objective is to finance the tuition and other related expenses for these kids who haven’t the means to get some education from their families. I love kids. I love handling and taking care of kids. If I wasn’t doing music, I probably would have ended up running a school and helping shape the minds of these next generation leaders.'
Niniola does not leave us without a message for her supporters and advice to upcoming singers like her.
She says: ‘I like to see myself as an example and will advise others to take their arts seriously. Don’t try to cut corners. Don’t seek unnecessary favours. Just take time and perfect your craft, then try putting your music out there for the people to consume. God has a way of handling everything. I’m especially greatful for the gatekeepers. They are like custodians, all these bodies that support upcoming arts – Magazines, OAPs, Bloggers, corporate bodies, etc.
I think upcoming artistes should put God first. And then work as hard as their dreams are big instead of assuming other means to success.’