Afro-Pop diva with the world at her feet
Performers who go on reality TV talent shows don’t tend to have too much of a message to deliver. Noella Wiyaala – known simply as Wiyaala – certainly does. This trend-bucking singer may have been a runner-up on the Stars Of The Future show in Ghana, but her music comes packed with purpose; she’s rallied both for women’s rights and against forced marriage. The epitome of a free-thinking, liberated woman herself, she’s become one of the major voices of young Ghana, keen to engage with global culture while not relinquishing a grasp of her heritage. “We love our ‘African-ness’,” she says, “but we also want to embrace and take our place as equal citizens in the modern world.” Known as the Young Lioness Of Africa – and clearly influenced by the equally striking Angelique Kidjo – Wiyaala’s strident Afro-pop is the sound of the continent taking the 21st century by the balls. (Source: Womad UK 2016)
“She’s the only woman in the world singing in Sissala and she will mesmerize you”
“Wiyaala is a feisty young woman from northern Ghana, bursting with attitude and drive”
BBC News – World – Africa
“feisty is not the word - she is a powerhouse in the mode of a young Angelique Kidjo,
effervescent and funny, she rocked the crowd and got a great reception”
Irish Times – Womad 2016
“The singer from Ghana tackling child marriage through music”
BBC World Service – The Cultural Frontline
Following charismatic performances at WOMAD UK, Shambala Festival, Festival No6, Freedom Festival, Ronnie Scotts Jazz Club, Voices of The Revolution UK Tour, and on BBC’s Radio3 in 2016, multi-award winning Afro-pop songstress Wiyaala has come a long way since her humble background growing up in the small Ghanaian village of Funsi.
The last few years have seen Wiyaala rise from rags to riches. Now on the cusp of becoming a worldwide star, the singer hopes to inspire others by spreading her message of love and peace, whilst also raising awareness of the injustices still taking place to this day in third-world countries all over the world.
Her self-titled album Wiyaala has already received nationwide success in Ghana and continental Africa
Wiyaala's songs are a selection of vibrant Afro-pop anthems sung largely in Sissala and English, but with a poppy catchiness inspired by Western Culture.
As the singer explains: ‘My work is the product of my environment as a young girl growing up in a West African Village at a time when the influences of Western TV and video first impacted on the African villager …You are hearing my African heritage fusing with the sounds and techniques of western production.’
Wiyaala rose to recognition after coming first place in a 2012 Vodafone Icons reality show as part of the group Black n Peach, a year earlier emerging as the second runner-up in Ghana’s Stars of the Future talent show. She has become famous despite little radio airplay, rejecting the music industry’s ruthless commercialist side and becoming famous as a result of her live performances and what she stands for. Grace Jones, Tina Turner and Angelique Kidjo are artists that she is sometimes compared to.
Often referred to as the ‘Young Lioness of Africa’, she has become renowned for her activism, working to abolish child marriage and abuse in her home continent as well as campaigning for women’s right to education – freedoms that we take for granted here in the Western world.
Her fierce ideals are a result of her impoverished upbringing and being a first-hand witness to social injustice. ‘At school, I have seen young teenage girls pulled out of the classroom to be married off. The next time you see them they are pregnant and selling pepper in the market… When I was small, we were often hungry. Sometimes we would catch a mouse, roast it and share it amongst 3 or 4 children.’
Wiyaala is currently working on projects with The Ministry of Gender and Child Protection and UNICEF in Ghana
Live: Ronnie Scotts Jazz Club London 2016
Live: Alliance Francaise, Accra, Ghana 2014
Live: European Tour (Hamburg) 2016
Live TV: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=44UWxGum6ro