World acclaimed first female talking –drummer Aralola Olumuyiwa otherwise known as Ara is a Legend, having taken her brand of music to International Countries. The foremost lovely and Sexy act in this interview talk more about her career, challenges, among others.
You’re a talking drummer, what influenced you into acting?
I did lots of acting in Primary School. In fact that my father insisted that I studied Law, I wanted to study Theatre Arts. Acting come naturally for me and then it’s easy for us musicians to act, because we act in our musical video.
Why have you not become an ambassador to any brand?
I don’t know, maybe you should ask the brand agent. Though few of agents, has come to me for discussion promising to come back but I’m yet to see them. I’ve not entered into any agreement with any brand, so I’m still available.
Tell us more about yourself?
My name is Aralola Olamuyiwa popularly known as Ara. My stage name Ara was coined from my real name Aralola.
As a world’s renowned female- talking drummer, could you tell us how you discovered yourself?
My love for talking-drum started in the 80’s from my Primary School’s days. I grew up in Warri and my father was Senior Banker in UBA, Efurun. Then, I used to be the head drummer for our cultural group. Back in the days, we used to travel back to Ondo for Festivals and for Islamic Ileya Celebration. At the praying ground at Eid, I used to see a lot of talking-drummers. From my mom’s family house in Ondo, I used to see an old talking-drummer who is late now, and my interest grew for talking drumming from seeing those male talking-drummers, but I noticed that there was no female talking-drummer. At that young age, I became curious and started asking questions but nobody could explained to me. I took up courage and I asked the old talking drummer in my family of I could carry his drum and played it. He gave me Iya Ilu and I played and the man was pleasantly surprised that I could play it. He asked me question if I had been playing drums before and I told him I’ve been playing Konga, Akuba and other traditional drums and not talking drum or Iya Ilu. From then on, it stayed at the back of my mind that one day I’m given the opportunity once again, I would play that instrument. Fast forward now to the year 2000 when I created my brand ‘Ara’. I tried my hands on a lot of instruments such as Saxophone, Flute base guitar, set drums. I now remembered one day the talking drum, so I told my manager that ‘Ara’ means a mystery and we wanted something that will suit the name instrumentally, at that point, I suggested the talking-drum and of course, we purchased it and at that point in time, there was no known female talking drummer, I started looking for people to teach me but stylishly I was turned down. Since we have talking drummer in my band, I started watching closely and one day I asked the player how many tones is it on talking drum and he said, three I told my then manager about it what I intend to do and he agreed with me. I was later taken to the resort. That’s why when I started drumming, Monkeys and Birds were my first audience, because I went into the footpath like a mini-forest near the resort, and play the talking-drum. At a point, I locked up myself in the room and listened to all kinds of music. When I was growing up, my father was a music collector, he had different collections like Fela, Ogunde, IK Dairo, Comfort Omoge, KSA. Ebenezer Obey, James Brown, Barry White, Steve Wonder to mention but a few. I listened to a wide-range of music from R n B, Souls, Highlife, Afro and a couple of others. I trained my ears to listen to all these genres of music. Talking drums has three tones but I trained my ears to hear extra which is why today, I don’t play the conventional talking drum like the traditional talking-drums. I have my own styles, That’s why I can play to a whole lots of foreign music today. That’s how it all began
What was the reaction of Male talking-drummers the very first time you performed in their midst?
I could see on their faces the first time I debut as a female talking-drummer that I might not go far with it. But to God be the glory, different people form diplomatic setting, elitist group among others all embraced me, they applauded me. That day I was encouraged with their reactions which drove me more, till date. I was accepted and given standing ovation. Normally the talking-drummer used to back up, but i perform as a main talking-drummer, drumming, singing and dancing. I did a lot of stunt with talking drumming.
You have the glory of being the first female talking-drummer in the Universe, what have you done to encourage the female folks who want to follow your step as talking drummers?
I meet with every one of them. The first person I know that picked the talking drummer after me is Ayanbinrin but of course every female drummer is Ayanbinrin but that’s her own stage name. When I celebrated my birthday I gave all the female talking-drummers my platform to showcase themselves. I met a couple of them when I have event on campus in Ibadan, and Ife and I called them to be part of my birthday celebration and they used my platform to showcase themselves.
What challenges have face over these years?
The challenge like every venture is for you to overcome. At this point for me, it’s not been able to reach out to lots of people I would have love to reach out to through my music.
Which performance really gave you the big break in the Industry?
I have a couple of those I’ve performed for a lot of big brands. Wyclef’s welcome party, Miss World, Cocacola to mention but a few.
Looking back, what are the high point of your career?
It was my recording with Steven Wonder and it was because, Steven actually impacted a lot in my career and my life. I learnt a whole lot from him, working with Steven Wonder for just a week and looking at him as a living Legend makes me great. God just used him as instrument to open my eye.
When was the high point of your life?
May be i should say when i was locked up in a room, I was not allowed to mingle with anyone, i really gain alot during that period
What about the low-point of your life?
The low point in my career was when at the end of my six year contract with my then management company, I could not boast of N10,000 in my account. At that point in time, they didn’t honour some parts of the contract and because I made a mistake of signing a contract without a lawyer. I had to do it all., When I wanted to leave, the company wanted me to sign another two years contract and I said no, at that point, they are trying to entice me with cars, house and good money but at that point in time, I’d made up my mind because If I stayed, I won’t be able to make anything out of my life. At that time, my International passport was not with me, it was given to my then manager. My passport with the manager could not allow me travel. Steven Wonders called severally to come over for a concert but I couldn’t go because my passport was not released to me. Those were the low moments of my career.
Tell us about your new management and the project you are working on?
My new management is my company, Ara Entertainment of course; we are willing to work with people. There are albums we have some over the years that are yet to be released for some reasons, but very soon, we are going to release them