The Story Of Her 23 Yrs On Stage
She is one of the biggest Islamic singers in Nigeria. Popularly called Iya-N-Ghana, because she was born in that country, Queen Seyidat has grown big over the years because of her unique Islamic music style.
In fact, she is planning big towards her 25th anniversary celebration on stage. “I will be celebrating my 25 years on stage in 2019. I am going to make it big. I want to do it in such a way that it will be bigger than my 20 years on stage celebration. At that time, I gave out awards to the first person who sang Islamic music. It was award and money.”
“I want to do a similar thing when I celebrate my 25 years. I will also do freedom for some of those I have trained. I will give some other people awards too”.
How does she see the last 23 years? “It was a tough one. But I am happy I was able to conquer all the challenges. The journey of 23 years on stage is not an easy one.”
“I have been through a lot, different experiences. I suffered a lot before Fame came. And then, I made the name. But when Fame came. Money didn’t come immediately. I knew that fame had come when my fans began to call me repeatedly. They will call for help, for money. They will tell you, Hello Alhaja, mo ni problem. Please give me money. So you found yourself having to give out money to help others. Once you make the name there are so many things you can’t do again. You can’t eat any how. You can’t go everywhere. You can’t be free again. You had to draw the line. So the journey of 23 year has been sweet”.
How did she become a singer? “I started singing from my days at the Arabic School, (Ile Kewu). The Alfa that taught me Kewu (Quran) also sings. Olorin ni won. Oni Waasi ni won. He is Shehu Dauda (Alfa Nla) when I was learning the Quran then, whenever we have a programme here, the place is not far from this shop we are in. I did my Wolimo outside here. Whenever we have a programme, my Alfa used to give each person a topic to go and prapare to sing on it and come back. He now realised that each time he did that it is the song I compose that is always unique. That was why my Alfa said it seems I have a talent for music.”
“Interestingly, they had told my parents before I was born that they will have a child that will be telling the whole world about spiritual things. I was growing up little by little and my parents one day told me about the prediction. I even thought it was going to be Fuji. I used to practice Fuji a little bit then. But God so good, God led me on to my path. That is how I started music. I started music at Ile Kewu (Arabic School).” How did she proceed from that point?
Did she start with a big musician and later set up her own? “Noo. I started from Arabic School. I took it to the next level. When the wife of one of our Alfas had a baby, she asked me to come and play for her, that she has always seen me at the Arabic School, so I should come and play for her. That was the first time I will sing on stage. It was in 1994. That was 21 years ago. I really sang that day. I thank God for that.”
“I did my Wolimo in 1994. There is this Alfa of mine who was my senior at Ile Kewu. He used to sing. He now said I should start following him around to sing. His father is a Woli (Prophet).”
“He came when I was doing Wolimot. He now said I should not follow anybody that my destiny is not one that will be tied to another persons destiny. He said I am destined to be on my own and other people should follow me and not the other way round. But nevertheless I followed some Alfas at Oshodi, Agege, Iyana Ipaja for a while. I followed them because I wasn’t well known then. I had started my career before I joined them”.
How did she get the name Iya-N-Ghana? “My real name is Alhaja Queen Dr. Seyidat Basirat Ogunremi. I got my Queen title in music. I got doctor of music. Seyidat means Asiwaju. Basirat is my real name. My mother has 3 children. We were all named after where we were born. One was born in the North. We call her Iya Mola, I was born in Ghana, so they call me Iya-N-Ghana.”
“I didn’t spend more than 3 years there before I came back. Thats why I am called Iya-N-Ghana”. Apart from singing, what else does she do?
“When I left secondary school, I joined one of my sisters who used to sell clothes at Oshodi. She said instead of my sitting at home I should come to her, to assist her. That was how I learnt how to sell clothes.”
“I had a shop of my own then. But when it was time to settle down, my husband said he can’t allow me do two worldly jobs at the same time. He said I can’t be singing and selling clothes.”
“He said I should face music. I once had an office where I sell records. I decided to open another office/shop. So, when I travel out to perform I will buy clothes, shoes and bags to sell here in my shop. But this music thing is my main love. I once told somebody that if. I was not into music, I would have been doing wasi. Music is my line”.
How does she see the growth of Islamic music? We all have different callings. My music is different Orin e mi ni (Zikiri) God sent me to this world with it. Whatever I do I always strive to do it well. My Alfa keeps watch over me. I can’t dissappoint him. I must not misbehave.”
“My kind of music makes me happy. I keep good friends. I avoid controversies. I avoid keeping bad company”. What is her relationship with the other Islamic singers?. “Its cordial. I don’t have any enemy. They are all my friends. I don’t fight with anybody. I greet everybody and they greet me in return. I hardly go to parties because I don’t like parties. I also don’t go to where I am not invited. I respect myself, so that others can respect me. Whenever my colleagues invite me to an event I always go. I take business before pleasure”.
What is the name of her kind of music? “Azikiri (remembering Allah). It can be called Islamic Waka”.
Where was she born? Where did she grow up? “I was born in Ghana. When I was 3 years, I was brought back to Nigeria. I grew up in Agege. I went to school there. I went to Arabic School in Agege. I married on this job. I met my husband on this job. My husband is well known. Whenever I sing I mention his name God has blessed me with 4 children – 2 boys and 2 girls. My husband is Alhaji Abdulaheem Idowu Olomitutu. I met him where I went to play. When the host of the party invited me to come and play that year, way back, I used to charge N120,000. My husband said to them that it was too much. He said what is she singing that she is taking N120,000.”
“He said he can get a better artiste for less. They said no. They want me because they like my music. We had met before then. He didn’t know I was the same lady he toasted before that I snubbed him saying I am a small girl. So, this time around he came to see who this girl is. He came, met me, he danced to my music. He kept on spraying me, trying to impress me with money. I was saying to myself, whats wrong with this guy spraying me money? So, he thinks he can toast me with money? He is not serious. That was year 2004. When we finished, the area boys began to disturb us. He now said he will assist me and take me home whilst my car should drive behind us. That was how he knew my house with style, pretending to be helping me. When we got home, I thanked him, came down and he drove off. Can you believe he came back the next day to greet me. He came back again the 3rd, 4th, 5th day. After a while, I started to like him. What I saw in him that made me marry him is the fact that he supports my job. He gives me full support.”
“Before he married me, he asked we, what he can do to me that I won’t like, and I told him, it is if he says don’t sing again. I told him this singing I am doing is from God. He has cooperated with me. He has the fear of God.”
“He is a businessman. He supplies drinks at parties. He is into events. He is into properties too. He builds houses and he sells”.
Where is her state of origin”. “I am from Ilorin, Omo Afonja. I am omo Ilorin sam, sam.” Why is her music different from others? “Its God, because its God that makes your tongue sweet. Once God loves you, anything you do becomes sweet and acceptable to people. I do Azikiri and music. That is the one you sing in Arabic. I do both together. I also sing in Yoruba. Before I came on the scene, there were people who only sang in Azikiri, from beginning to the end. Then, there were those who just sing normal music from beginning to the end. But when I came I started doing the two.
People often tell me that my music is so unique that when they hear it they learn something from it. There is a lot to learn from my music. My songs teach morals. I also do a lot of Azikiri or Prayer.
People who are good in Kewu will enjoy my music. I don’t sing rubbish. I don’t abuse people in my music. No abuses. I do good Kewu. My music is sweet”.
Why does she have the photograph of KSA and Alhaji Kollington Ayinla on the wall of her office. “I like the 2 musicians. I respect them. I like their music too. I have been listening to them since I was small. Since I grew up I have come to see both of them as artistes who encourage young ones. They respect me a lot. They don’t joke with me. They are role models. They have the fear of God. I have learnt a lot from their musical careers. They have done a lot. When my mother-in-law died, Alhaji Kollington played so well. He played like a young artiste. Both of them are serious minded. The two of them went into music not because of money. It was for the passion. They are my mentors.”