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Juju Music Queen, Ayo Balogun Speaks About Her Career, Challenges And Life At 56




She is rare among women. In fact, she is walking where angels fear to tread. As one of the few female juju musicians in Nigeria, Queen Ayo Balogun is living her dream. The diva recently turned 56 and she took time off to talk to The Entertainer about life, career, challenges and why she dumped gospel for juju music. She also revealed the reason behind her quitting PMAN as president. Enjoy it.

You turned 56 recently but you still look elegant…?
Thank God for His mercies, I feel very good turning 56. Yes, I am getting old and I am loving it. I believe all of us will get old one day.

So, you don’t believe in the philosophy of women not getting old?
We will all get old one day, either you like it or not, so the best thing is to get old graciously.

What is your beauty secret?
I try as much as I can to take care of myself. I try as much as I can to eat balanced diet and to give myself rest of mind. I don’t allow anything to weigh me down and I always take things easy.

Do you have a beauty routine?
I will say yes and no because when you eat good food that takes good care of your skin and health, and no in the sense that I don’t take any form of routine seriously rather than having rest of mind.


Looking back, what are the experiences like?
Like every 56-years-old person, I have witnessed the ups and downs in life. I have learnt a lot – the good, the bad and the ugly, and I make bold to say that it was through the grace of God that I’m able to scale through.

What have been the good and the bad sides?
If you look back and discover that the good side outweighs the bad side that is when you know that you are a conqueror. I started very humbly and when I look back and see the position God has put me today, I always give thanks to the Almighty. Honestly, I never expected to be where I am today because it was unplanned. So, the acceptance people gave and the way they reacted to my music keeps me going. Talking about the bad side, like the Yoruba will say ‘eyan o ki gba ibi ko ma gbare’ (the good always goes with the bad). Say for a little disappointment here and there, like one getting late to shows because of traffic jam and people or the celebrant using abusive words on you, one would look back and ask ‘what am I doing in this business’? Or having one’s vehicle involved in accident among other things, I have my fair share of these things.

As a woman in a male dominated juju music industry, what are the challenges you have faced?
So they say but mine is not like that because it is something I love doing. I have been listening to the music of King Sunny Ade, Ebenezer Obey, Dele Abiodun, the late I.K Dairo, Shina Peters and others, so its something I have passion for. I have little or no problem playing juju music.

Was that the reason you dumped gospel for juju music?
I moved from gospel to juju music because I hate deceiving people. As a gospel artiste you don’t play at parties but at crusades, churches, harvests and other church programmes. You don’t go on stage and start singing praises of people or playing ‘owanbe’ and when I discovered that I have this talent I decided to go into full entertainment by playing juju. If people say juju music is about praise singing, no problem because if you praise sing our father in heaven, He will give you what you ask for.

Was there any criticism when you started playing juju music?
No, it may happen in the church I attended but nobody confronted me. As a matter of fact, if those in my church did not talk I will say it’s not a church because they have to be jealous for God. Aside those little criticisms, they realised that I knew what I was doing and that juju music will not derail me or stop me from being close to Christ or practice Christianity as a religion.

Ayo Balogun With Her Children

Ayo Balogun With Her Children

Do you still attend church?
Yes I do.

Have you ever been embarrassed for being a female juju musician?
The only embarrassing incident I can remember vividly was when a lady came to a party I was engaged to perform, and seeing a woman on the bandstand, she looked at me from head to toe in an embarrassing way. You know what that means? It’s like asking ‘is this the musician that will perform?’ But I did not utter a statement; I just smiled and put in my best at the party. Do you know what? Today, the lady is my best fan.


What about male fans?
Look, I have had series of experiences, so nothing can move or shock me at this point of my career. Naturally men will want to play one or two pranks but as a mature person, I handle it in a mature manner.

I mean like a male fan trying to paste crisp naira notes on your chest or…?
(Cuts in) When I am on stage I’m a different person entirely, so I hardly notice anything. If you are trying to play any pranks and you notice that the person on stage is a different person, you will move away. When I am on stage I am a different person entirely.

Who is Queen Ayo Balogun on and off stage?
Off stage, I am naturally shy. I am a peace loving person. I love to have people around me. I love to keep a low profile but on stage ‘afi ki n ma gbo ilu o’ (except I don’t hear drumbeats), because if you strike a chord I will be transformed, I will be in a different planet entirely. The drumbeats, the guitar turn me on and on again.

How do you cope as a mother and musician?
I don’t have a toddler, all my children are grown up and they are independent. When they were younger my husband was always with them.

How does your husband feel having a popular musician as wife?
When we started he had his doubt as a man, which is natural, but as time went on coupled with what he had seen, he discovered that there was nothing to be afraid of.


How do you stay off scandals?
Stardom has its good and bad sides. As for me, I try as much as I can to be a good example to others especially now that women are joining the music industry in droves. I try as much as possible to be careful, though nobody is perfect, I will say God is at work here.

As the National President of Association of Juju Musicians of Nigeria, which comprises of male and female musicians, how have you been able to cope?
Juju is the music of the elite, and juju musicians are very polished and decent people. More so, they see me as their mother and sister and they believe in me and my leadership capability. In fact, the support they have been giving me is overwhelming. They know that I appreciate them a lot and appreciating each other has really helped to move the association forward. When I had my birthday recently the association did an album for me. Taking out time, spending their money and singing for me is so overwhelming and I want to seize this opportunity to say thank you to AJUMN. I love you all.

You led AJUMN successfully, why did you resign as the president of Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria (PMAN)?
Honestly, I don’t want to talk about it because the time is not ripe yet and I have my reasons for saying that.

Why? Did you lose confidence in the association?
Yes, when I realised that there are many factions. What I saw was disgusting. I saw that individuals have vested interests not in moving the association forward but for selfish purposes, and that was not my plan because I wanted unity and my plan was to restore the lost glory of the association. Since that could not be achieved and I didn’t want my image to be tarnished, I decided to quit.

Where do you see Queen Ayo Balogun in the next 10 years?
Add 10 to my age and that would be 66. I would have retired from active stage shows but I still see myself as somebody who gives lectures to the upcoming ones, showing them the way to do it. In a nutshell, I want to be a teacher; I want to give helping hands to others when the need arises.


Have you been preparing for that?
Of course, yes.

What would you be doing by then?
I will go into buying and selling at least to keep my joints moving.

What are the kinds of things you will be dealing in?
I have always loved bedroom accessories. I was into it before now but since I have been having busy schedules, I have not been having time for that. After retirement I will go back to it.

Why bedroom?
I love beautiful rooms. Some people say I am romantic, well I am if you say so. I am romantic, is that not good?

What are you working on now?
I am working on my next album, which is almost ready and it is titled, The Lord’s Doing. It will be ready by Easter period.


As a former gospel singer, are you of the opinion that gospel artistes should praise sing?
It is an aberration, it is wrong for a gospel artiste to praise sing. A gospel artiste should praise God alone.

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