“Performing with the late Tony Allen was on another level of experience for me…his music is dynamic but with focused direction.”
Singing and dance sensation, Bukky Falayi is a face that you are not likely to miss from the line-up of major performances by big-name African artistes and their global collaborators. Bukky, an indigene of Ekiti State, but born and raised in Lagos State (Nigeria) has her educational background up to the university level back in the motherland. Aside from her BSc. in Mass Communications from the University of Lagos, she also wields a Master’s degree from the University of Westminster, United Kingdom. Beyond a continued role as a performing artist, she is currently engaged in the media/entertainment industry in roles that span broadcast journalism, research and as artistic/creative director. Feferity interviews the multi-tasking and industrious performer on her arts, personality and professional life.
How do you juggle work, socials and family life?
It’s never easy to merge work, family and social activity altogether. This is where you make sacrifices and comprise by strategizing to see what works at a point in time. Prioritising which is most important and still staying relevant and prudent within your chosen lifestyle.
Are there any challenges in separating personal from professional life?
There are of course challenges separating personal from professional because these are two different entities that need to be put up by one person and believe me you need to give both a 100% otherwise, there will be an imbalance and whichever it is that is not well placed will have an adverse effect on the other. Then both would inadvertently suffer.
When did you start to perform and what were your earliest experiences like?
I started singing professionally at age 11. The majority (of people) don’t know that I was a professional vocalist before I started dancing. I started dancing and singing as a professional in the ’90s and my earliest experience unlike many was fun and work for me, I took it seriously because I was performing alongside the most talented and energetic dancers back then in Nigeria. There was no mucking about; it was serious business and I can liken it to being in the military camp.
What are the highlights of your career?
The highlights of my career was travelling around the world. Seeing the world at large and understanding the cultural, racial and political differences that separate us as a people and the tactics used as a mechanism to keep us divided through class and status quo. Studying these within the four walls of a classroom or reading from a book couldn’t have given me the first-hand information (that) I got, I was at the frontline getting informed and having fun; a lifetime experience.
You did perform extensively with big names in the industry. Name some… I had the privilege of performing with many of the greats, iconic and musical legends of our time namely; Pa Orlando Julius, Femi Kuti, Tony Allen, Roy Ayers, Roy Hargrove, Hugh Masekela, Baba Maal, Manu Dibango, Ali Farka Touré, Toumani Diabaté…
This is to mention some.
What was it like performing with the late Tony Allen?
Performing with the late Tony Allen was on another level of experience for me. As a singer-dancer, I am mostly exposed to up-tempo music rendition, but Tony Allen was not one that played slamming music, his music is dynamic but with focused direction. He was very strict and doesn’t cut corners with his music, you have to get it right and he would try to help you in the best simple way he can. I must say I did really enjoy working with the late Tony Allen. His music just translates itself through every performer on stage. It is music for the soul.
What role does faith/religion continue to play in shaping the performance and lives of artists?
The role that faith/religion plays in shaping performance and artistes’ lives is very powerful because music itself is spiritual. It is something that touches your soul, be it positive or negative. (Whether) you understand the language that is used for dissemination or not, your sixth sense understands it. Religion/faith helps define both the performance and the artiste because the extent or the enormity with which you carry your faith/religion becomes evident in the transposition of your presentation on stage.
Did you ever try a solo career, and if not, why?
I did have a solo career and went on tours. I was even privileged to be the first Nigeria artiste to perform in Malta at the Schweppes Festival alongside Toby Foye in 2004. More than just music performance, I did a lot of workshops on Afrobeat music and dance, (the) History of African Music and Dance and the dynamics of basic African instruments. I taught this in masterclasses alongside my music solo career. Like I said earlier on in the interview, it is a big challenge to merge family, social and professional activity together within one’s lifestyle, hence you have to strategize, prioritise and be prudent.
What major projects have you got lined up?
I will be returning to the music scene soon and plan on carrying on with the Afrobeat workshops and showcases. Afrobeat needs to be explored at large other than just serenading the music. There is a need to understand why Afrobeat music is different from every other music genre.
Zodiac Sign: Taurus
Favourite Album, Song and Artist: l love good music, (but) my favourite song of all time is Plenty Nonsense by Femi Kuti
Most valuable possession: Life has taught me to place value on nothing it’s all vanity
Best food and drink: Pounded yam/vegetable soup and cold drinks
Where would you like to spend retirement? In Africa
Fondest memory of your dad: (My) fondest memory of my dad was the last time I saw him before (he) passed on. I was on a visit to Nigeria from the UK and went to see him the night before my departure and he prayed for me like never. I never knew it was the last time I was going to see him. That for me was (a) treasure.
Most ever expensive purchase: I love things that give me comfort (winks) 😉
Your wildest dream(s): My wildest dream is to be able to help the less privileged become someone in society.
Interview arranged by Segun Fajemisin
© Feferity Media Group 2020