What is your names? My full name is Noella Wiyaala, but I use Wiyaala which means “the doer” in my local dialect.
What is your genre of music?
I’m a Sissala from the Upper West Region of Ghana. So I call my music Sissala Pop which is a fusion of traditional local music with contemporary world Pop. You could also say its a sub-genre of Afro-Pop.
Give us a little bio about you.
I grew up in Funsi, which is a village in the Upper West Region. My family were always into traditional music and my mother was a chorister. I used to sing and dance to entertain from a very young age. My impressions of Madonna and Michael Jackson used to make people laugh. I was such a tom boy in those days people used to call me Man-Woman. Eventually I traveled to Accra to enter reality shows. At my fourth attempt I won the Vodafone Icons show with the group Black n Peach. After a year I went solo. I went for an androgynous look that some have compared to Grace Jones. But I’m not like her at all. I’m an African and even tougher! Since then I have won awards such as The Most Promising Artist in Africa and played my music at many festivals in Europe including Womad 2016. I am also campaigning with Unicef Ghana to reduce the prevalence of Child Marriage in my country. My second album will be out in April 2017.
What made you go in to music?
I didn’t go into music. I was born with the gift of music in me. God blessed me with the talent and I do it and people want me to do it more because it brings joy.
Are you a signed?
No, I am signed to my own label. Who signs to a label these days? It looks like musical slavery to me.
Your released your new single ‘Peace’, what’s the meaning behind the Single?
Its to tell my brother and sisters not to let any older controlling person put a gun in your hand to fight his cause. War is destruction.
Will we see an EP or album?
An album is coming May 2017. It builds on the work of my first album “Wiyaala”. I’m also looking at doing some dancehall collaborations with Lei Di Dai from Brazil. She is a fantastic artist. We developed an on stage chemistry on The Voices of The Revolution UK tour put together by In Place Of War. That’s another story. Fifteen different female artistes from countries around the world thrown together to make music and perform it around the UK. We even did a show at Ronnie Scotts. Can you image music from South America, Bangladesh, India and Africa all put into a melting pot. It was an incredible experience.
You have many festivals coming up, tell us more about them.
I just about completed my tour now, but I have a big show coming up in Accra. Its called “Legends of Africa” which Yvonne Chaka Chaka is headlining. I’ll be there. You guys should come to Ghana and watch the show! Ghana will blow your mind. We are super friendly people.
You played WOMAD,this year, what was that like?
I’ve been waiting all my life for stages like Womad. I loved it and the fans were mad for it. And I was reviewed in the Press as “charismatic” and “mesmeric”. Bring it on! I love to entertain.
You have received awards,what was it like for you?
Its good to receive awards. It makes you feelrecognised and appreciated. But I never make music to win an award. I just make the music as it comes out of my head.
If you could collaborate with any UK artist who would it be?
If you could collaborate withy any USA artist who would it be?
Where is your dream venue or festival to play?
Headline my own festival in the capital town of Wa in the Upper West Region of Ghana.
Do you play any instruments?
Guitar and percussion
Who are your influences?
My mother, my uncle, Madonna and Michael Jackson
How do you get inspiration for all your tracks?
Usually when my manager is driving me somewhere and I’m watching the leaves on the trees which then turn into words and melody.
Where do you see yourself now in 5 Years?
If God allows, I will be an inspiration to the young women of Ghana and Africa.
When you’re not doing music, what do you do?
I design and sew my own stage dresses. I can also draw very well. I watch TV. I especially like cartoons. I’ve been watching Family Guy and American Dad while on tour in the UK.
What was the song you listened to most that influenced you to go more in to the music scene?
“Take A Bow” by Madonna which I saw on TV one day. For a village girl like me, it was a fantasy I wanted to live out.
What’s the best advice you have ever been given?
Don’t change, just be the Wiyaala you have always been.
What advice would you give to aspiring musicians not about the industry and just as an artist?
Do your own thing as a musician. You know more than anyone whether the people in front of you like what you do. Be honest with yourself.
What quote or saying do you always stick by?
better the devil you know than the angel you have yet to meet
Who would your dream collaboration be with and why?
Eeeiii!! This question!! Until I have started to work with the person I don’t know. Ok, just for fun, Tina Turner. I really know how to sing her songs and her special ability was to entertain audiences all over the world unrivalled energetic performances that didn’t require sophisticated lighting and effects. I can do that too.
When you are at a gig, what are 5 things you cannot forget?
My setlist, my guitar, my cowbell, my lipstick, my African comb
Do you have social media accounts so your fans can follow?
Instagram and Twitter @wiyaala, Facebook Wiyaala