Sola Allyson is one of the leading Gospel music stars currently rocking the music scene. She is good. She is talented. And she is blessed with a sweet and sonorous voice.
But many will readily tell you that Sola Allyson is a highly principled and disciplined lady who does not suffer fools gladly.
In this chat below she reveals how having grown up on the streets prepared her for the later challenges she faced in life. It’s very revealing.
How did you receive the news of the lockdown and what was your reaction?
Well, my first reaction was, ah, God help us. They said the virus had gotten here and of course we started praying. We thought the lockdown would not be long. We already had shows scheduled for Easter, we were expecting money to come in. Of course, people who already knew the lockdown would persist held on to their money. We kept on praying and trying to sensitize people about the virus. At a point, it became depressing and gloomy with people dying in thousands all over the world. Everyone became scared. Even to jog around in the estate was an issue because you were scared to talk to people or even greet your neighbour. But now, we’re getting used to managing Covid-19, just like malaria came at a point, killed people then it was managed.
What are the lessons you’ve learnt so far during the lockdown?
The lessons I have learnt are quite a lot. One of them is that I have realised we can do without large gatherings. Now I know I can worship God, pray to him without being inside a large gathering or corporate worship. And I know Muslims too have learnt you can do Sulat without going to the mosque, without many people gathering together, that you can reach God on your own. That’s the lesson for me basically. Outside of that, the lockdown wasn’t such a big deal for me because before lockdown came, I have always been an indoor person. If it’s not very important, I don’t go out. I love to be in my house, enjoying my privacy. The only part that I miss is that I love to go out and perform and meet people and I’ve not been able to do that. Yes, things have changed totally but we’re learning to live with it.
Everyone is talking about the new normal, what is the new normal for Shola Allyson?
Ah, I don’t know o, gatherings should start happening so that our work can go on. You know, because of the kind of work that we do, especially for someone like me whom God has taken to a certain level, they will not want to call me for a small show, they will only like to call me for big shows. Yes, we have done a few shows where I performed from home, just me and my keyboardist, some we had to go the studio, but still, it cannot be like the real thing where you have a large gathering cheering and appreciating what you’re doing. So, for me, I don’t know what the new normal is yet. We understand that this thing will still be with us for a while and the government is doing all it can to combat the situation.
If someone had told you in January that you wouldn’t be able to have your normal shows for about three to four months, would you have believed it?
I would not have believed it. But that’s the way things happen in life. Often times, mishaps don’t inform us that they’re coming, its only God’s grace that’s keeping all of us. May God just sustain us when things like this happen.
I have noticed that when you step on stage to perform, it’s a different Shola Allyson that we see, how do you explain that transformation?
I don’t know, but I believe this is my gift, my calling. It’s what I have been called to do. Me, I approach all these things as simple as possible. I don’t see myself as somebody that is special, I don’t see myself as somebody that is better than anybody else. I know myself that a transformation happens when I’m on stage but I can’t quite explain it. Like I told you the other time you interviewed me, singing is my calling and I try to do it as simple as I possibly can. Normally, by nature, I’m someone who doesn’t like to talk too much, I like to be on my own. But when it comes to performing, I become a different person. I smile at people, I acknowledge their appreciation of what I’m doing and I’m generally warm. The reason why it happens like that, the reason why people love what I’m doing is because I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing.
How did you get to that point where you knew how to relate with God and hear messages from him for your inspiration?
The fact that we can hear the spirit of God talk to us is just grace. So, I cannot say this is exactly how I do it. It’s a process, everything in life is a process. Growing in every aspect of life is a process. I was at a particular point before I got here because I always strive to get better, to hear more and for my spiritual antenna to be sharper for me to know whether it’s the spirit of God that I’m hearing or voices in my head. There is a way I hear it, and there’s a place from which I hear it, then I know it is God. I don’t count myself special and say me, I always hear from God, no, it doesn’t work like that. For instance, I released my album, Imuse, in 2018 for free. I had prepared to release the album, concluded with marketers and we were just waiting for Ramadan to end before releasing the album. Then, suddenly, I got the impression on my spirit not to sell it. At first, I refused. I was like, what kind of a thing is that? How can the holy spirit tell me not to sell my work? This is what I make money with, but the thing is, I heard from that place where I hear only the voice of God.
How do you feel when you meet people telling you how much you have inspired them through your different hit songs?
It makes me feel grateful when people talk about my songs and how much a particular song has inspired them. Sometimes, some people even ask me to sing some of my very old songs, the ones that I can’t even remember the lines because it’s been a long while and they say that’s the one they like the most. I feel very grateful that God has put me in the plan to give the world joy and hope. My songs give them joy and hope, that’s why they can’t forget many of the songs I’ve done. For instance, yesterday I was with Baba Ebenezer Obey. God just laid it in my heart to go and honour him, I didn’t know why. I had wanted to go before now but lockdown didn’t allow it happen. So, finally, we went yesterday. Then, baba said, me too, I must sing one of my songs for him, that he always feels blessed hearing my songs. I didn’t even know what to say, I didn’t know what song to sing to him. That same Evangelist Ebenezer Obey that has been relevant when my mummy was a girl, that has been relevant even before I was born. So, the fact that he told me he feels blessed when he hears my song makes me feel grateful. It puts me in a grateful state that I could even be considered by God to be used to give the world joy is a big thing to me every time.
How do you handle the issue of haters?
Ah (laughs) that one is a normal something. Those ones are always there. No matter what you do, not everybody will like you. Many will like you, many will hate you. That you’re popular and making hits after hits is a problem to many. They’re not happy that you’re successful. That is why I laugh when people advise me that I shouldn’t be proud o, that I should be humble. They don’t know where I’m coming from. Long before I became a star, I had been through a lot in life. I knew what life was already. I had gone through so many bents in life. I know what the street people can do, I know what the haters can do. So, nothing they do or say surprises me anymore. If they come to me and talk trash, if I have the energy, I respond, if I don’t, then I just ignore them. If I’m in the right mood, if you give it to me hard, then I’ll give it to you double. If I’m in my gentle girl mood, then I might just take it easy with you. I am human too and I have my own mood swings and emotions. This is why many celebrities suffer depression, they just cover it all up so their fans won’t know. But for me, I’ve walked my journeys, seen a whole lot, so there’s nothing anybody can give to me that will shock me. So, if you like me, fine, if you don’t, no problem. I’m not living my life to please anybody. That is the reason why I have not put a title or anything like Lady Evangelist or pastor to my name because that’s what will make it difficult for me to reply you when you abuse me. So, I prefer you call me by my name, Shola, so that when you insult me, I will respond. When there’s an argument, I can react to it. I am a human being as well. When Jesus Christ was here, there was no title to his name. I remember reading an interview of a big aunty in Nollywood who had had a couple of failed marriages. The interviewer kept emphasizing on the issue of her failed marriage in a not so nice manner to a point that you could tell she must’ve tried hard not to break down right in front of the journalist. Now, if that lady got back into her car and behaved coldly to a fan or somebody, they will say she is being snobbish or arrogant. People just take it for granted that because we are public figures, everybody should just come forward with their knives and begin to slaughter us for no just cause. For me, I don’t leave myself open to such attacks. If you come at me and I’m pained, I will react. Sure, I know there are haters and I’m not ignorant of the wiles of the enemy. I’m very conscious of that. I know that God did not send me to everybody. I have friends who are not fans of my music. We don’t even talk about my music at all because they don’t understand the journey I have walked. We talk about a lot of things but not necessarily about my music.