Olgha Nkweti aka “Olgha” 26, Cameroonian singer and song writer says she loved music from a very young age and started singing professionally at 17. She has refused to join the present dance hall hip hop style music pervading the Cameroonian music scene and has stuck to soul music, which is not well known in her native country.
She has just released her first single “You”, a soul searching song about a young girl who turns to God when she can’t find anyone to calm her during a moment of extreme anxiety.
She has been speaking to Francis Ngwa.
Q How did you get into music?
I have always been singing since I was very young but I got into professional music in 2005 when I met Emile Ngumba of M1 studio in Buea. When I went to the studio, I used to love the way musicians sang there, I loved the harmony of the music and I wanted to learn more about music. By then, I knew nothing about keys, rhythm and all the other technical things you need to know to sing like a musician. Music has therefore always been part of my life.
Q When you say you are a singer/songwriter, how big is your musical repertoire?
I have written a lot of songs. I write more than I sing. I write a lot of poems too so I have a lot more lyrics than rhythms.
Q You have just released your first single, can you talk about it?
The single is titled “You”. It was inspired by my personal experience because all my songs are really about my personal experiences. “You” is about a day when I was feeling really very low and down. It was one of those days you feel alone in a crowd. You realize the one person who will always be there for you is God. Man will never always be there even if he has good intentions. That day, I tried calling people, their numbers either did not go through or friends were too busy but God will always be there for you. In the song, I narrate the story of a girl who is feeling lost and alone and everyone who she wants is either no longer there or too busy. Then somebody proposes to her that God is there, the bible is there and will always be there. The bible says there is always someone who will be there and that someone is God. There is a phrase in the song that says “I heard about you, I read about you” and he said he loves me too and can pull me through. The song is just an encouragement to people to believe someone cares.
Q Are you very religious? What part does religion play in your song writing?
I am not religious, I am a Christian. I believe in God and I try to obey his principles as much as I can. I get inspired by the principles of the bible when I am writing my songs whether the song has got God mentioned in it or not, my songs are always backed up by biblical principles.
Q How will you describe the type of music you play?
I will describe my style of music as soul. I play afro soul and jazz music. I don’t know why I decided to play that genre of music but I guess I just found myself doing that genre. It is the type of music I love. I listen to a lot of soul musicians and I connect a lot more with soul music.
Q Soul is not popular in Cameroon. What will be your reaction if you don’t have the large crowds turning up for your performances?
Popular is a relative term. What comes from the heart touches the heart. As long as I produce music that is geared at touching the people’s hearts and souls, I think they are going to love it. Also, soul is not the only genre that I do.
Q I meant when people think Cameroon music, most people will remember Bikutsi and makossa or the recent hip hop that appears to have invaded the musical scene in the country.
Which means I am going to be a nice surprise for them.
Q What has been the reaction since you released your single?
The feedback has been great. In less than a week after I released the song, I have already had more than one thousand views on Youtube, the song has had hundreds of likes and many people have downloaded it. A lot of people have written to me to say this is exactly the type of music they needed.
Q Your future plans?
I am working on the next song I will release in October. It will be a live recorded session. It will be a mixture of poetry and music which I hope to surprise the people with.
Q Will you say there is some sort of revolution in Cameroonian music today?
I think there is a revolution in Cameroon music. I don’t know when it started but I realized people are now reacting more to music and possibly because of new media outlets like Youtube. It helps that more youths now have different channels to promote their music.
Q Do you face any particular challenges because you are a young girl trying to make a break in a very challenging industry like music?
Yes I do. There is the fact that I work. I have a full time job so don’t have enough time to dedicate to music as I will have wanted. That slows me down really. There is the fact that I don’t have the necessary finances to be able to produce the quality music that I need. There is also the environment. It is easier to produce copycat music and succeed than to bring something that is original. I am also a soul artiste and this is a music genre that is not well known in Cameroon. There are a few soul artists here but it is not really big for now.
Fun facts about Olgha
First album title: The battle within
Favourite colour: Green (Nature’s colour)
Relationship Status; Single
Favourite Dish; Ndole and ripe plantain
One thing You will like to do: Visit all 6 continents and experience different cultures
Long term Music goal: “Put a spot of light in the world with each word spoken or sung”
What I love the Most: Excellence (Good quality, skill, determination to succeed)
Favourite Quote: “The flower that blooms in adversity is often the rarest and most beautiful of all”. Mulan
Favourite dressing style: Rugged elegance
Most attractive quality in a man: Self Confidence
Life Principle: Make the most of each day