Nigerian artiste Seyi Shay makes local connections
She rose to fame as part of a girl group known as From Above, but Nigerian- based English singer-songwriter Deborah Oluwaseyi Joshua, more popularly known as Seyi Shay, has been in the music industry for more than a decade.
The entertainer was on a recent visit to Jamaica, where she told The Gleaner that these days, she's focused on building her solo career and establishing her own legacy.
From Above, rose to fame in 2008 and was managed by the infamous Matthew Knowles, father of mega superstar Beyonce. Seyi Shay said working with Knowles taught her a lot about the music business and gave her the start she needed to make a name for herself.
"He basically put us through an extensive training process. We were going through vocal training, choreography training, media training, and all kinds of things. We did a few shows in Houston and things were working. We moved to New York and got signed to Sony Records and that was huge," she said, explaining that the experience gave her some of her best moments in music to date.
"I think the biggest thing that could have happened for From Above was the tour that we did with BeyoncÈ. We went on tour with her in 2009-2010. We were supporting her on tour, opening up her shows, and that was the biggest deal for me and for From Above."
The group broke up shortly after that, and Seyi Shay has since been focused on a solo career.
In 2014, she released her first single as a solo act, titled Murda, featuring Patoranking and Shaydee, and in December 2015, she released her debut album titled Seyi or Shay.
"I am living in a really great time for music, especially African music, and I think all the people that have helped me get to where I am today are to thank for a lot of the stuff that I've done."
Speaking of African music, Seyi Shay told The Gleaner that aside from doing promotional work, her visit to Jamaica was part of plans to restore relationships between the music industry in the Caribbean and Africa.
Seyi Shay spent just over a week in Jamaica, but in that time, she met with the likes of OMI, Beenie Man, and Sean Paul, all of whom she has begun to work with on a few projects.
"It's been a great trip. Myself and OMI have hooked up and spoken about future plans. I've worked with King Jammy, and we did a really fantastic song that we're expecting to release really soon. Beenie Man and I are working on a song, and Sean Paul and I will be hooking up also."
Seyi Shay said that while the music world can become overwhelming at times, she has remained humble and headstrong because of her Nigerian heritage and her faith.
"My biggest inspiration is God. I don't know where I'd be without God. My songs are inspired by life and love and I don't pigeon-hole anything. I sing about everything."
Still craving the need to accomplish more as far as her career goes, the Pepsi brand ambassador said she would continue to put in the work.
"I'm happy with what I've accomplished, but I'm not satisfied because I think there is still so much more to do."
Seyi Shay is currently signed to Island Records and is in the middle of an African tour, which will see her performing in countries such as Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Ghana.