Ruby Gyang is one of Nigeria's great contributors to Afro-Soul. As a singer and songwriter, she gives herself to the world by creating the kind of music that immediately lifts up your spirit and nourishes your heart as soon as you hear it. We recently had the opportunity to catch up with Ruby and ask her few questions; here's how the interview went:
You sound like you've been singing a for a very long time. How old where you when you began taking it seriously? Where did you get your training?
Yes I have. I fell in love with music when I was like 5 years old. From that time all through secondary school I was involved in the arts-singing, dancing, acting... I was 18 years or so when I made up my mind to be a performing artist. I didn't know how I was gonna go about it but I knew it was my destiny. The bulk of my training came from being in church choirs from age 5. I had a number of mentors along the way. Later I took professional voice training with a vocal coach.
In addition to Jil Scott, Marvin Gaye, and Whitney Houston, what music influences outside of soul music helped shape your distinct style? How so?
Gospel music is a major influence being that I sang in church the greater part of my earlier years. Miriam Makeba, Angelique Kidjo are influences-their songs, strong performances and their activism inspired me. I grew up listening to Nigerian divas like Onyeka Owenu and Funmi Adams.
How would you define Afro-Soul? What do you think your contribution to this genre is?
To me Afro-Soul is the fusion of Soul music with African rhythms,languages and sounds. We know that Black-American Music has its roots in African. So the fusion makes it doubly soulful.
Please give us a breakdown of one of our favorite songs, "Down". Talk about the concept, creative process, writing, and music production behind it.
I'd been listening to South-African Urban House Music quite a bit. I loved the sound. I was particularly drawn to three songs: Lengoma by Dj Sbu ft Zahara; Still by Liquid Deep and Heavenly Sent by Mi Casa. I was gonna meet M.I (who's my producer) and tell him to make a song with that urban house sound but before I did he called me to the studio said he had an idea for a song. He played the exact three songs for me. I was like "This is a sign". We made the song and everyone who heard it immediately liked it. So we knew that was the next single.
How close are you to finishing up your current project? Moreover, what should your fans expect from your upcoming album?
I'm more or less done. Been working with MI on it for a while. I can't wait to bring it out. The album tells a story of my relationship experiences. It starts with heartbreak and ends in love. It'll be out this middle of next year by God's grace.
Are there any collaborations we should be on the lookout for in near future? Also, which artists are on your wishlist to work with?
Yes a couple. But I'm not giving anything away just yet. Y'all just be patient :-)
My wishlist is as follows [for now at least :-)]
- A song with Nneka
- A song written for me by Tiwa Savage
- A Dance Song produced by Don Jazzy
- A duet with 2Face written by Jude Abaga(MI)
- A performance with Angelique Kidjo.
What's your take on the current state of music in Nigeria? Did you expect it do grow this far so quickly?
The industry is growing soo fast. It's not surprising considering the market size,our hustle as a people when it comes to business. I think the potential can't be quantified. The only drawback is the lack of structure. Once that is sorted then we'll really see development of the sector.
Outside of music, you do a lot of work for women and empowerment. Tell us a little more a about your initiative.
I have an event called Diva's Unplugged. It's a live music event where I feature female performers only. It's my way of providing a much needed platform for female acts. I work closely with a number of organisations with a female focus in support of women empowerment. Being a single mother, I mentor younger single moms offering encouragement and support to the best of my ability.
What inspires and motivates you to make new music on a daily basis? When it's all said and done, how will you measure your success?
Music is my calling. I was destined for it. So that is a never ending source of inspiration for me. Making music truly makes me happy. Music is my love. Once upon a time I thought success to be fame, money, status. But a wise man said something that altered my perspective, "Life is not about your duration but your donation". I will measure my success by the lives I'm able to touch with my time, talents, skill and all the other resources I have.
Thank you very much Ruby for taking time out to hang with AfroMuzik. Let's keep in touch :-)
It's been a pleasure. Love&Blessings.