18 February 2013

Nigeria: Hey Goldie...


There's nothing conventional about Goldie - not her blonde hair, not the many swanky pictures of her on the internet, not her distinctive branding, or her songs that often parade a desirable sense of eccentricity. She is just different.

I ping her on a Monday, requesting a chat. With a new album and a hit single, "Say My Name", already climbing the charts, it becomes necessary to ask a few questions about this-and-that and all the usual stuff interviewers get up to. But Goldie is far from being boring. Wary, prudent with words, and ridiculously nice - yes; but not boring.

She pings back, with a "Babe, what's up?" and a smiley emoticon by the side.

I respond: "An interview. How busy are you?"

"Very busy but I can make the time. Let's have lunch," she replies.

Lunch is at her home in Park View Estate in Ikoyi, Lagos. I wait in the living room for her to get back from an interview in Magodo. In the meantime, I amuse myself with a movie on DStv and a drink. Only then do I realise how flat-chested Kate Hudson is. She's playing alongside Matthew McConaughey in "How to lose a guy in 10 days."

Goldie arrives and has had a hard-knock day. She's exhausted and famished. She has a few minutes to spare before heading out for a performance. She says she'll be out for the most part of the night and then orders a bunch of banana and a glass of milk. I congratulate her on her new album.

"Thank you. We keep pushing. What's the point being alive if we cannot push ourselves enough to get what we desire?" The milk is halfway and I can see she has regained her strength.

Between Goldie's profile-rising career and her ubiquitous presence in the industry, it is expected that her album would be packed with enough punch and character to send it straight to Top 10 Nigerian favourite albums of the season. I am not sure if I'm the one who is disconnected from my radio (as that seems the only viable source to predict who's hot in the game), but Goldie makes me understand that the album is doing pretty good.

"My fans have been great. I am blessed with people who appreciate what's on offer. And I am just so grateful."

The album, a confident 16-track collection with a bit of surprise, puts the word out there that Goldie is more than a lucky singer. She's more of a hard-breaking hard worker. Goldie's colourful definition takes a back seat for a dose of talent. Smoothly riding through upbeat tunes and stirring quite impressive R'n'B, Goldie is worthy of respect. She has had many radio interviews since the album, and a cover on WOW magazine.

I tell her I don't like the cover, and she asks, "Why?"

"It's too drastic - the black straight hair. And the dress was unflattering."

She smiles and says it was a good try by the fashion editor of the magazine and did think it came out OK. She confesses crying when they turned her blonde hair to brunette, "but they were a wonderful team to work with so I didn't let the depression sink in too deep."

I also tell her how awful I thought her zoodrums interview went. "What was that about?" I query. "Was she trying to heat up controversy between you and Tiwa Savage?" talking about the presenter - Christie - who seemed more interested in everything else except Goldie, in an interview that was supposed to promote her album.

I see a frown appear on Goldie's brow, "I didn't understand it too. She managed to ask me about every other thing except my album."

"What are your fears?" I ask; her glass of milk now empty.

"Living the life everyone expects of me. It is the most terrifying thing anyone can do to themselves."

A call comes through and it seems there are some underlying issues that might affect her performance tonight. But after a few more calls and chit-chat with her team, all is good to go. I am looking at the cover of the CD for her single, "Say my name" - a theatrical Goldie wrapped in newspaper pull-outs. Classic.

She needs a quick nap before the event tonight. I am happy for her. I remember some time back when I visited and we went cyber-surfing. One popular site had very negative comments posted about her talent. That day, she bowed her head on her desk. I thought she was crying but there were no tears - she prayed.

"You are doing great, girl," I tell her.

She smiles and even her eyes smile too. "What are you drinking by the way - slimming tea? You've lost so much weight," she teases me.

I tell her I intend to keep it that way.

(This was originally posted on ynaija.com. It was my last interview with the singer. Goldie always had that spark in her eyes. I will miss her. Rest in Peace!)

Bewaji writes from Lagos

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