TIMI DAKOLO: From Grass To Glory

Timi Dakolo

When Ghanaian-born soul singer, Timi Dakolo, entered the Idols West Africa competition, he was clueless to the fact that his life was about to take a sky-high turn around. At age thirteen, the sultry-voiced singer lost his Ghanaian mother and ended up being raised by his grandmother who was a petty trader in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

In 2006, Dakolo auditioned for the reality show, Idols West Africa, in Calabar, Cross River State.  The judges were highly impressed with his performance and chose the singer as one of the final contestants nationally. Unfortunately, during this time, he lost his grandmother as well. This didn’t deter the young Dakolo. He depended solely on his Christian faith and forged ahead. Eventually, he emerged winner of Idols West Africa 2007. 

Since then, his music career has taken him far and beyond his wildest dreams. In this interview, he talks about his struggles, influences and more.

How long have you been doing music?

I have been singing for a while now (church, group singing and street corners). I took it really seriously after I won the Idols West Africa 2007.

How was your experience during the Idols West Africa competition? How did you feel, at the time, emerging winner?

First of all, I never thought I was going to win. I just felt like ‘Let me give it (a try)’ and that trying never hurt nobody. So, I was watching and waiting, hoping that they would call my name and when they do, I’ll pack my bags and head home.

The process was difficult and stressful. There was always something to do. We got very few hours of rest and I was really home-sick. I even lost my grandma while I was in the competition.

Winning was everything! It was worth the while. It made me see music and life differently and that anything is possible.

Did you always want to be a performing artiste?

No way. I grew up in a house where all I knew was a go to school, get good grades, work in an oil company (laughs), marry and then stay out of trouble. Music was for fun. Me? Musician ke? Do you want to return the money they used to pay your school fees?

What has been your inspiration over the years?

It’s been the will to succeed and not to disappoint the people that believe in me and put so much faith in my talent.

How was growing up in Port Harcourt for you?

Growing up! Hmm!!  I grew up with my grand mama and aunties. My grandmother was a petty trader; selling things in season like oranges, plantain, mango and garri. So, as a child, a lot of people had input in my schooling.

To me, there were more downs than ups but I enjoyed every moment of it. I had the opportunity of growing up and becoming a man long before I was a man.

Timi Dakolo

If you weren’t doing music, what other line of work would you be in?

I would probably have been a writer, talk show host or public speaker.

What challenges have you encountered when it comes to releasing albums etc.?

The music industry here is hard and very unforgiving. My main challenge was doing it all by myself. Though really, it’s been tough, it helped me gain experience – learning how to do things and how not to do things. And, taking the right decisions at crucial moments.

Do you write all your songs? If yes, what is your muse?

Yes, I do. I write a lot and collaborate with Cobhams and Omolara as well. Ideas are everywhere. One just has to listen and do a lot of in-depth thinking.

Who were your earlier musical influences?

Bob Marley, Majek Fashek, Mandators, Third World, Edna James, Burning Spear, I-Three etc. I grew up in a reggae environment.

How did you meet you wife?

I met her in a church. I saw (her) from where I was standing and I said: “I want to talk to this babe mehn!” (laughs)

How do you juggle your family time with your career?

I have my family time and career time. My wife always puts me back in life when one begins to suffer. She’s a strong woman and I cherish her for that.

You have an amazing voice, one of the strongest vocalists in Nigeria. Why did you choose the genre of music you do?

Thanks. The music chose me. I do music as I hear it. If I hear soul music, I go with it and likewise other genres. I let the music find me and I don’t force it.

Timi Dakolo_1

What inspired your hit songs “Iyawo Mi” and “Wish Me Well”?

“Iyawo Mi” is a personal song and it was dedicated to my wife. I needed to sing for her during our wedding, hence the song: “Iyawo Mi”.

“Wish Me Well” are the last words I told my friends before boarding a bus to Lagos for Idols West Africa and the stories that followed. I am using it to inspire every dreamer and human being with ambition to follow their dreams and never relent.

You have performed on international platforms. How did you feel and what’s the audience reaction to you compared to Nigerian audience?

(Laughs) Most times, they don’t believe I am a Nigerian and I stay here. After a while, they catch up with the lyrics and sing along. Beautiful moments I have had!

What local or international act would you give anything to work with?

Adele, Jay Z and Michael Bolton.

How do you relax?

Play station, watch movies with the Mrs. And, we go on night outs with the kids.

What has been the highlight of your musical career?

I would say that (it was) singing at the World Economic Summit in Davos, Switzerland. In fact, I love my every performance; be it thousand or just ten. I treat and cherish them the same way.

Over the years, the Nigerian music scene has grown tremendously. What do you think could be done to make it even better?

We have done well for ourselves. People take us seriously now and we need to have a common voice and a body to govern us; because, as the saying goes, a house divided against itself will not stand.

What attributes do you feel influenced your rise to the fame?

I am a God-made man.

How do you handle mistakes during performances?

I just smile and joke over it and start again. It’s not that serious.

What pre-show rituals do you adopt?

I try to rest and sleep a lot. I also drink warm water before I go on (stage).

What projects are you working on now; songs etc?

I am currently working on my new album titled “Love and Consequences”.

What advice do you have for up and coming artistes?

Dream and dream big. Give it your all. Also, know your craft and the business of it.

By Pamela Echemunor


Glamsquad magazine is an independently operated online fashion, beauty, style, entertainment, and health blog. Its features are both inspirational and accessible, giving our followers a scoop on what's trending now in the fashion, beauty, style, and entertainment industry.

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