… Also Out With So Wo Le Dance
Ara Thunder, the leading star at Atunda Entertainment, is dropping a new single that is set to revolutionise the music industry. The song titled: So Wo le, is a mixture of many cultures, and blends African talking drum with percussion and dance.
For the very first time, Ara Thunder, who is popular for her razzmatazz stage performances, reveals another side of her, that will certainly daze her fans!
Ara Thunder is Ibo! Wow, who could guess, what, with her flawless Yoruba songs!
In this interview, the first ever female igbo talking drummer from the Eastern part of Nigeria, reveals more. Enjoy…
Why are you coming out with a single at this time?
Well, we believe it’s the Christmas Season, i want to bring in a brand new, fresh music into the Nigerian music and the entire world music market. As you know, amapiano is a creation of South Africa and I believe in the amalgamation of cultures. I hope you know that I am the first and only female igbo talking drummer of repute or any standard at all from the eastern part of Nigeria. I am an ibo girl and most people do not believe that I am ibo. I do that basically to promote unity in Nigeria. Because what tribalism and sentiments is doing to us is retrogressive, backward and destroying our growth and develop.
I choose to speak through the Western talking drums. We have drums in the Eastern part of Nigeria but I just love the flavour of the talking drums from the Western part of Nigeria. And in conjunction with my musical platform Atunda Entertainment, we developed it, to let everybody know that we can offer the best, showcase the best of what makes us happy, not tribal sentiments like saying that I am igbo and I want to play only Igbo instruments or I am Hausa and I want to play only Hausa instruments. We as Africans, we play the piano that was not created by us, we play the guitar that was not created by us. We play the sax, a creation of the West. Why have we not had a lot more igbos playing drums from the West, from the North.
So basically, I’m coming out this Christmas season to bring something fresh, mixing African percussions which I’m an expert at, the talking drum with amapiano that is weaved around percussions.
What is your song’s connection with South Africa?
The South African connection is what I call the East-West amalgamation through creative arts. That is West and East Africa amalgamation so people will hear the feel of the talking drum, the feel of amapiano, that is what the South African connection is about.
But we’ve listened to your songs you mostly sing in Yoruba language.
I grew up in Lagos, so I speak Yoruba fluently. But I also speak Igbo fluently and my music is not only in Yoruba, because the talking drum does not only speak Yoruba, the talking drum speaks English, the talking drum speaks Ibo, Hausa. The talking drum speaks any language.
How is the release of your single going to influence the younger generation?
It will influence a lot of the younger generation at this time because they will see and know that they can use their talent to connect and be detribalised, it will teach them to know that they are more important when we connect our culture to other cultures in the world. That is why you see a lot of collabos going on around the world presently.
The more you can have a potpourri, the mixture of a good mix of world music in your music, it will give the younger generation a newer direction that they need to follow.
In recent times Ara Thunder, you have majorly been performing to an elite audience so one is forced to ask, is your new single release for a particular audience or class of people, or for the elites?
Well, I won the award at the drum festival three consecutive times based on audience from age 10 to age 70 or so, the audience was made up of Governors, Ambassadors, and other top society people. And I won the award as the best drummer during the festival, three consecutive years! And I also performed for the President of France, Emmanuel Macron where there were a lot of young people in the audience, a matured audience at the same time. A lot of afrobeat music audience also. It was a standing ovation all the way. Of course you know I have performed in Cote d voire, I’ve performed in different parts of the world at different levels. My music cuts across, it reaches out to the matured minds, young minds, for the rich, for the poor. With the talking drum, one cannot focus on only the upper class or the wealthy alone. That’s because the talking drum is a drum for dance, that is the basis for Alu Jo (a dance routine in Yorubaland). And it is the talking drum that leads that dance. So I don’t think I am known strictly for the upperclass. Yes, I have performed for Shell, for Chevron, ExxonMobil, Coca-Cola, Pepsi cola, a lot of banks and other corporate organisations. Nonetheless, my music cuts across.
You enjoy interacting with your audience, why is that?
I don’t spend enough time with my audience. So I remain a mystery to them. That is why when I’m performing, I want them to feel a bit of me to know that I am human. That’s because I look at them and I get a feeling that they look at me in awe, as if asking themselves if I’m real, especially when I’m beating the talking drum with my head. So during my performances, I go closer to them so they can see me clearly. I give my audience that assurance that they are not looking at a spirit (laughs) that I am real.
How do feel being the first female talking drummer?
Well, point of correction, I am not the first female talking drummer. There are so many female talking drummers in the west in Osogbo, in Ogbomoso, so many female talking drummers. The first one to hit the limelight is Ara Wonder. But I am Thunder. You know Ara has 5 different meanings in Yoruba. We have Ara which is thunder, then we have Ara which is wonder, we have Ara which is body, then Ara a bucket and lastly Ara meaning my group, my constituency, my fellows. So there are 5 different meanings with Ara in Yoruba language. So I am not the first female talking drummer, but I am the first ever female igbo talking drummer from the Eastern part of Nigeria.
What are your plans for this new single?
I do shows regularly in different resorts throughout Nigeria, there will be a lot of shows in the Carribean. I’m looking forward to collabos in different parts of the world. What they call amapiano today, is what I have been doing over the years. I do it with razzmatazz. And if you watch my shows, the beginning is always a razzmatazz. It’s laced with heavy talking drums synced with percussions and dance. It’s called razzmatazz. That is what we usually use to capture the audience before I even start singing, I start off with razzmatazz. And this has been my act for years before amapiano came out.
Your songs are mostly in Yoruba, and it flows so well, can you sing in Igbo language too?
I am a mixture of both worlds. In the middle of my performances, I don’t even know when I speak ibo. I sing in Yoruba and Igbo. Amapiano for me is mainly in English and Yoruba, but when I perform live, I do a lot of igbo kwenu and put a lot of igbo into it.
Tell us about your costume
My costume is synonymous with thunder and lightning. I conjure fire on stage that’s why I combine silver and red. That’s what I stand for.
Do you have a dance for this song that you are releasing?
Yes I do. The dance comes with the release of the song, along with the video of the dance.
And lastly, what’s the title of the song?
It is: Se O Wo Le
What does that mean?
It means, is it inside? Is it good? Is it in your head? Is it sweet? Or what we say in Yoruba, se o gba iyi, se o good.
Thank you for the interview.