Steaming hot on the social scene right now is a young and ready-to-conquer female saxophonist, Funmi Sax, who is currently the most sought-after female saxophonist in Nigeria, playing at major A list events right now. She was the one who played at Ibidun Ighodalos burial. Playing sax is one of the professions dominated by men. Now, we have seen the emergence of women as they are raring to groom themselves in handling this instrument. The 32-year-old lady, who has warmed her way into the hearts of many people especially women, has been having it back-to-back where she performed in severally major events before the pandemic came to town. Funmi Ajayi popularly known as Funmi Sax with her crew delivers excellent performance with which she normally enthrals people into spirit when she storms the stage. She is regular face at many A-list parties and she is doing well. She spoke with Society Editor, TAYO FAJORIN OYEDIJI, on how she started playing the instrument at age 16 and how she has been making ends meet.
How do you feel when you play at any women-oriented event?
Any show put together by women is always very impactful as women support one another a lot. A lot of women have embraced me and I am proud to be one. At least, I am always given an opportunity to perform as a lady amid great women and I am aspiring that one day, I am going to be a woman, a great one,, indeed, who will be able to influence my environment and my generation with what I do. So, I will say that women have greatly supported my career which further puts me on the fore front.
How long have you been playing sax?
This is my 16th year. It started in a church, it was just like after my secondary school thing, admission was not coming forth and church was there to say we should come and learn playing of one instrument or the other. So, I started with saxophone even though I didn’t know it would take me to where I am today, it has been a good thing, I have never regretted playing saxophone.
Why did you choose to be a saxophonist?
It’s because I love sax, it looks as if it’s not going to be possible in the beginning, but God made it possible and maybe that is what God wants me to do. I love to sing, but through instruments.
How long did it take you to learn it?
As at when I was learning, there were only a few people playing sax, you would hardly see a lady doing it. The players were men and there were a lot of restrictions on going closer to men so that they won’t take undue advantage of you, so it took me a while before I could find the right person to put me through. Normally, if you want to learn playing saxophone, it will take you like 3 months.
How often do you get shows?
I do events, I do shows, but you know it is gradual. God has been faithful with my in getting jobs, you know sometimes referrals are from events and that is why I support women a lot because I know from there, I will get other greater events. So, from there, it would keep going and going and by the time you know it, I would be all over the world.Playing saxophone has brought me fortune. This is what I do for a living. This is my life and everything I have got are proceeds of playing sax. Definitely, God is my backbone. It is not easy, but I have had most of my patronage from referrals and women when they see my best being delivered at many events and from there that was how many people got to know me and call me for show.
How do you feel playing sax a male-dominated profession?
Yea! I feel very humble because it is not by right, it is a privilege, all thanks to God because He is the giver of talent, some people think they have the capacity to do it, but when they carry it, they realise they could not do it.
it is not by strength, but by doing what God wants, you to do. when I started it was not easy, but I am sure the sky is just the beginning and I am going places. I will just be a pride to my society.
Did your parents support you playing the sax?
Well, that is one thing I am always happy and proud about. it was as if they knew this is what God wants me to do, they never really restricted me, but at a time if I was to read for exams, they had to stop me from touching sax to read my books. So, it is not really a restriction, it was just like they were urging me to balance up my life and they have been very supportive even up till now. I am proud of them.
Have you ever experienced any difficulty in playing sax?
Well to me, playing saxophone is the easiest thing I have ever done in my life, because some people used to complain of cheek, or neck problems associated with playing sax, but I have never experienced such. That is why I said everything works out through the grace of God. when the grace is upon you, things that looks difficult will become easy and that is what I have been working on.It is not easy to play sax for some people, but I found it easy, I think it is passion. I always have joy when I am doing it, I am not only doing it because of money,I am doing it because of the love I have for it.It is not stressful.i started professionally 14 years ago. God is my inspiration and Holy Spirit.
What inspires you?
Yes, there is this guy I always listen to when I was growing up, that was Kenny G, each time I hear the sound of saxophone, there is always a sensational movement around me, like a spirit touch, even though I had not even seen the saxophone then. The day I finally saw the sax I fell in love because I have heard of Kenny G and how he used to play and touch the souls. Like I always call it, saxophone is a spirit lifter, even though you are down, something will just come upon you and you won’t know where you will find yourself. it is not something that ordinary person could just pick and play, you must be prepared for it because there is a spirit behind every instrument. You must be prepared for it. In my case, God made it so easy, every time I see the sax I am happy, even when I am sad, and I see a sax, I am happy because it is what I like to do.
How do you get inspiration of songs to perform?
An axiom says, Practice makes perfection. Sometimes, I don’t rehearse my songs, sometimes when I get on the stage, I feel this boldness and a presence around me and I just do extraordinary things, things I did not rehearse or do earlier. Naturally, I am a shy person, but anytime I get on stage, it looks as if I have taken over the entire event and programme. It is just something I have grown with and I have been able to study my environment to know what to do.
– TAYO FAJORIN YEDIJI