Johannesburg - “Who in their right mind would turn down an icon such as Tata Nelson Mandela? It’s unfortunate I never got to meet the man but I have read up a lot about what he has done for Africans and his contribution to the liberation of South Africans,” says Nigerian Afro pop megastar, hitmaker and BET nominee Yemi Alade.
Dressed in a monochrome tracksuit with glamorous shades, Alade joins the lineup of artists celebrating the life of Mandela at the Bassline Festival this month.
The artists will be part of the celebration meant to pay homage to the African continent and, in particular this year, to the legacy of Nelson Mandela, performing a special Africa’s Tribute.
“Being able to perform at such a big festival in honour of what he has done is as close as I could get to him. I am completely honoured. It is a big deal for me and I’m here with my live band ready to kill,” she said.
Alade said after weeks of rehearsals and costume changes, she brings familiar and new work to the South African stage. “I’m the kind of artist who insists on having a unique set with every performance.”
Alade’s hit single Johnny, which was leaked from the studio, blew the continent away. It changed her career, setting a new record for African artists with more than 85 million views on YouTube – the most watched video from an African artist.
“Johnny was a song I wrote from personal experiences and that’s why it connected with the continent. If I knew why it got millions of views I would use that method in every song and make more Johnnys, you know?”
Alade has just come back from a European tour of her third studio album Mama Africa after a US tour last year.
She hasn’t always found it easy in a male-dominated industry.
“My role in life first of all is to be myself; I have one life and I live this life for me.
“I try using my voice where it’s needed and more especially I try lending my voice to people who don’t have a voice or those who can’t be heard because of their status or where they are or how life has happened to them.”
Alade said, like Mandela, she wants to keep her light shining in an authentic way. “I think let’s all adopt Mandela’s character where he showed us by example to have an attitude that says, what can I do for my country, instead of what my country can do for me.”