Exclusive: “I’ve never met anyone like Don Jazzy” -Tiwa

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Last week, Tiwa Savage made headlines following the announcement of an exclusive global recording agreement with Universal Music Group (UMG).

Under the agreement, her future music will be released internationally through UMG’s operations in more than 60 countries worldwide.

BellaNaija’s Mercy Akamo caught up with an obviously excited Tiwa at her super chilled and comfy home in Lagos. She spoke about what the new business arrangement means for her, the recent criticism of “international deals” and how her career is inspiring African women to grow in the music business.

Tiwa’s Journey

Tiwa has been in the game since she was a teenager doing back up vocals for George Michael. At other times, she’d done vocals for Mary J. Blige, Chaka Khan, Emma Bunton, Kelly Clarkson, among others.

Prior to that, Tiwa played the trombone for her high school orchestra in London, where she moved to at age 11, from Lagos, Nigeria.

Tiwa was a part of the final 24 in the 2006 edition of The X Factor in the UK, unfortunately, she didn’t get to the next stage, but it didn’t stop her from forging ahead.

In 2009, she signed a songwriting deal with Sony/ATV Music Publishing where she wrote for for Babyface, Kat Deluna, Fantasia Barrino, Monica and Mýa. She was also a background vocalist on Whitney Houston‘s “I Look to You” album released in 2009.

After a business administration degree, a music degree, and performance on stage with stars like Sting, 50 Cent, The Black Eyed Peas, Eminem, Robbie Williams and Destiny’s Child, among others, Tiwa decide it was time to come back to the Motherland.

She’s worked so hard and now all that is paying off, and this new contract is “like a reinforcement that I’m ready for the global market,” she says.

What the UMG Deal Means to Her

“The fact that they’re willing to sign a female Afrobeats artist and also the fact that they’re allowing me to maintain my style, sound and brand, but on a global level meant a lot to me. It felt like everything that’s been going on in my journey led to this point. It felt right. It felt like it was the right time. Felt good that I hadn’t been working in vain,” she adds.

Tiwa tells us her new contract is “a really great deal” and the excitement of everyone involved is “worth more than anything I can put a price to”.

Tiwa says that different labels, management companies, and agencies had approached since about a year ago, and she began to take those interests seriously.

“I was doing a lot more shows outside Nigeria/Africa and I felt like it was time to give my music on a much bigger platform,” she says.

Her Current Relationship with Don Jazzy

Jazzy had shared an emotional farewell message after the UMG contract was announced on May 2nd.

The award-winning producer and music mogul wrote: “It’s been an epic journey with you and we are very proud of what we have achieved together. As you start this new chapter in your life we want you to know that we are solidly behind you and can’t wait for the world to see what we have always believed you can be.”

Tiwa Savage equally shared an emotional response, narrating how the label and Don Jazzy stood by her and made sure her brand was kept alive when she took a break to give birth.

“I only want to make you proud of me. Not every super hero has an S on their chest. You are my superhero DON DORO BUCCI. 7 years, 7 the number of perfection. I LOVE YOU ALWAYS AND FOREVER. Mavin 4life,” Tiwa wrote as response to Jazzy’s post.

Tiwa tells us that “Don Jazzy is just an amazing guy.”

“I’ve never met anyone like him who’s so selfless. A few people might think our messages to each other is just for the gram, but honestly, 1000%, it’s very very real,” she adds.

Mavin Records

After the deal was announced, people began to ask questions about her relationship with Don Jazzy‘s Mavin Records, which she joined in 2012 as a pioneer member around the same time she became the first African female Pepsi Ambassador.

Tiwa has been with Mavin Records since the beginning of her music career in Africa till date, and she’s made a lot of achievements within that period.

In December 2018, Tiwa, together with Beyoncé, JAY-Z, Pharrell, Wizkid, D’Banj, Soweto Gospel Choir, among others, headlined the Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100 in South Africa

Tiwa has a management and publishing deal with Roc Nation, signed in June 2016. She has two albums – Once Upon a Time (2013) and R.E.D (2015) – and an E.P Sugarcane (2017) to her name.

She went on to become the first woman to win the MTV Europe Music Awards for Best African Act (2018).

With her new deal with UMG, it’s clear that Tiwa has left Mavin Records but Tiwa wouldn’t want to use the word “left”.

“Contractually yes, I guess I’m not with Mavin, but I don’t think I can ever leave Mavin,” she says. “It’s an emotional feeling. I’m part of the family. I’m still close to everyone,” she adds.

Tiwa has a little counsel for aspiring artists in Africa: “Opportunity favours the prepared.”

Interview Credits: Bellanaija


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