The story of a woman
who drums around the world.
November 18th, 2005
She is seen as one of
the best things that ever
to Africa. This young lady, who at one time was criticized for abandoning
her studies at the University to pursue a career in music, has not only
proved her detractors wrong but has helped to put Nigeria on the
international showbiz map. Her profile as a performer is quite intimidating;
she has performed in different parts of the world and with different and
top-rated artiste including, Steve Wonder and Wyclef.
Ara, the first female
drummer of repute, has taken the talking drum to a whole new level. Her love
for drumming dates back to her primary school days when she was the head
drummer of her school. While in secondary school, she also took up that role
and did a good job of it. But even then, the petite drummer had nothing to
do with the talking drum, which has brought her so much fame and respect.
But after her secondary days, she tried her hands on Afro beat, then working
with Femi Lasode.
After a few years with
Lasode, Ara had to move on and her quest landed her at Atunda Entertainment,
her current managers.
It was at Atunda
entertainment that the founder, Akinbowa, told her to try her hands on the
talking drum. For her, at first, it was asking for the impossible, as the
talking drum is traditionally a manís thing. But with him, there were no
impossibilities and, in no time, Ara was doing what she thought was
impossible. And, before she knew it, she became a master Ė or is it a
mistress - of the drum.
Recently, the star was
given a key to the Miami County by the Mayor and people of Miami. Though it
was the first time that an artiste would be bestowed with such an honour,
Ara is modest about it. She says it was a great honour and rare privilege
for her and prays to God everyday to help her to be humble so that the fame
would not get into her head.
According to her, God
gave her the gift and she would like to use it in the best way possible
particularly to promote the African culture. That she would do without
necessarily allowing it to get into her head. Whatever she does right now,
she says, is for the future and also for when she must have ended her
sojourn here on earth.
Ara says she would like
to leave a good legacy behind. "As a person, nothing gets into my head,
because I think of the future and what lies ahead; I think of the legacy I
will leave behind; I think of the things that I will help to put in place
for the people to come. I know I was given this talent and opportunity to
add value to this life. And I would not use it to oppress or intimidate."
Another thing that
makes the star level-headed is the fact that a lot of children look up to
her and she would not want to set the wrong example for these kids who see
her as a role model.
For someone who has
achieved so much, one cannot help but wonder what her secret is. And she
simply tells you, the secret behind her success is God. According to her,
she was destined by Him to be what she is. God, she says, prepared her and
put her in place for what
she is doing. The other thing is the fact that she has a great record label
and promoter in Atunda Entertainment
whom she says, gave her a platform to display her talent. Unlike other
record label, Atunda Entertainment she says, takes an artiste who they think
is talented from scratch. They do not need a demo tape unlike others. All
they need to work with an artiste is talent, the right attitude and
patience. Once an artist has these qualities, the sky is the limit. Another
thing that has contributed to her success is a lot of determination and
dedication. Another thing that has helped her is the fact that she believes
in what she does. "Believing in what I do and again believing in myself and
of course focus. Once anybody losses focus on what he is doing, he can as
well forget it. And, there is the factor of hard work. Hard work, lots of
hard work", Ara says.
When Ara is on stage,
she throws all caution to the wind and does her thing. However deep down all
that boldness is a very reserved and shy person who would rather keep to
herself than socializing. But she does not see herself as an introvert
rather she says she is a mixture of an introvert and extrovert. "When I get
on stage I let loose, I do the same when Iím off stage once in a while when
Iím in my territory or when Iím around people who really know me." Keeping
to herself, Ara says, stemmed from the fact that she had to keep away from
people a lot during her grooming. In those days, she had to keep to herself
in order to discover herself.
When Ara is not
entertaining, she is at rehearsals or just writing songs. The entertainer
might not have any album in the market currently but says her first album
which is due in December was recorded over two years ago in Ghana but was
not released for some reasons. Her record label decided to release that
particular album because they want people to see how she started. They donít
believe in throwing away the past. That, she says, is not their style.
Ara is referred to as
the enigma of the African race. But how did that name come about? According
to her, the name started in Atlanta, America during one of her performances.
The people there, in a way, worship her. They believe that the spirit of
their ancestors lives in her. These people, she says, long for their culture
and want to find out more about their root. And all of a sudden, they people
find someone, a woman, who has broken the jinx. According to her, she has
been able to mix the two cultures together, the one which they are used to,
and the one which they long for. The American people, men, woman and even
children are so moved by her performance that they started calling her that.
"My name, Ara, was
given to me by my late grandfather. the name had actually been chosen and
sent from Ondo state because there was a reason for that and, till date,
that name has been me."
For those who have been
privileged to watch her perform, one of the things that have astounded them
is her vigour. One cannot help but ask how she does it. This brings a smile
to her and she plainly tells you that itís lot of practice.
Incidentally, Ara has
done a lot of performances abroad but very little at home because there are
certain things that she would not want to get involved in.
But all that she says
would change in the new year as she hopes to do more shows back home here in