JANE ‘EFYA’ AWINDOR
As Efya poses elegantly for KISUA’s camera on the Jamestown seafront, she looks every inch a super star. Here at home she is one, with a crop of Ghana Music Awards to prove it. But in recent weeks she’s been nominated in five categories at the World Music Awards and for Best Female at the MTV Africa Music Awards. As she prepares to release her debut album Love Genesis this June, Efya is thinking big. “This is a high moment right now,” says the 27-year-old. “I believe in my talent but when I go out into the world, I’m not just a little girl singing, I have to be a whole brand.”
Jane Awindor was born in Kumasi and grew up singing in church. In 2007 she aced the TV talent show Stars Of The Future and released an album in South Africa as the duo Irene & Jane. She went on to study theatre and music at university and launched her solo career as Efya in 2010. Hit singles include Little Things, Getaway, Best In Me and her current lullaby Forgetting Me and along the way her afro soul sound has blossomed. No matter the beat, her octaves-teasing voice and love-torn, Twi-laden lyrics always soar.
Efya has honed her engaging live show through constant gigging in Ghana and Nigeria and has performed further afield in Kenya and the US too. She’s also collaborated with the likes of Yaa Pono, Ikon, Lynxx, Sarkodie and SDC. She now has new thrills up her sleeve as she puts the finishing touches to Love Genesis. “I’m making some dance music and techno and finishing up tracks with Banky W, Wizkid and Tiwa Savage. And then I’m going to go on a world tour and take over!”
She’s also making a mark in the fashion world. Having performed at Arise Magazine Fashion Week and modelled at Glitz Africa Fashion Week, she enjoys championing local designers such as House of Cramer, Duaba Serwa and Christie Brown. “There are so many designers doing amazing stuff right now, which encourages others to come through,” she says. “I like to look classy and am into vintage too.” When she’s not on the stage or catwalk though, you’ll find her enjoying Accra’s nightlife with her sizable entourage. “We love Twist bar, you’ll often find us there eating pizza. And Republic bar does amazing drinks. Wink wink!”
“Amen is everywhere. We’ve travelled 17 hours in the past two days and performed to crowds of over 5,000 people. This is my craziest hit ever!” Yaa Pono is clearly pleased about the reception to his latest anthem. Released late last year and inspired by performing at Fela Kuti’s The New Africa Shrine, he’s just released the video for Amen, which sees the Ghanaian rapper dressed like a pastor and eyeing up the ladies in a nightclub.
Born in Tema, he released his first mixtape The Psalms in 2007, signed to Ghana’s respected Pidgin Music in 2009 and has garnered attention for his witty Akan freestyles and diverse sound spanning hip hop, afrobeats, dancehall and rock. In 2011 he collaborated with Efya (who appears with him here, wearing KISUA) on the hit Good Morning and his other big tunes include Bayla Trap and Tare Tare. But despite his solo success, Yaa Pono says he’s nothing without his collective, the Uptown Energy Crew. “We started out together when we were in school. We’re family, we’re blood. It’s not a paper thing we sign but we all have equal rights in the crew and we all hold the stage down. We’ll never split.”
Yaa Pono is currently finishing up his second album Sea Blue with his crew very much in tow. “Most of the songs relate to success and coming from the ghetto to become a musician,” he says. “Before in Ghana music was more about money than talent. Here comes a time when it’s about talking to the people and letting them know that you are a believer.” Amen to that.
Images: Nana Kofi Acquah
Words: Helen Jennings
Make-up: Saida Mumuni
Thanks to Joe Pup & Abrima Erwiah