There aren’t too many women in the Nigerian music industry. There are even fewer emerging female acts. The unimpressive gender void is not due to a lack of talent, not at all. The truth is that a lot of women are not taken seriously as artistes, so they sometimes aren’t too enthusiastic to take the plunge. So when you spot a female artiste like Okal, making bold moves in the space, you simply sit up and pay attention.
Okal kicked off her musical strides ‘refixing’ major hit songs Like Tekno’s ‘Pana’, Davido’s ‘If’ , Victor AD’s ‘Wetin We Gain’ and several other viral Naija renditions.
But long before then, the odds were already stacked against her. Unsure of how to convince traditional, straight-laced parents that music was worth pursuing, Omobosola Karimat Alaka aka Okal set off smartly by opting to learn the guitar; a choice that came with its own inherent challenges, taking the determined 14 year-old girl through the route of self training with Youtube videos and guitar tutorial applications, to eventually hunting down a music teacher.
The graduate of Adult Political Science, who sports a distinct white wig as her signature look has come a long way since then, with the release of her debut video, ‘Cost A Thang’ produced and co-written by Puffy Tee. The follow up single, ‘Lover Boy’ was released soon after and a song collaboration with Puffy Tee on ‘Oribiruku (Bad Energy)’ rounded off 2019 for Okal.
“Spectacula” is her latest single and it was produced by Cracker Mallo
As a woman in a male-dominated industry, Okal has had her fair share of struggling to prove that her gender is not a deterrent to her skill.
“My music, sound and personality is a representation of who I am & what I stand for which is positivity, consistency, persistence and confidence. Affiliating with selfish and biased managements honestly contributed negatively to my career at some point but it only made me stronger and independent because at a point I was ready to take on anything by myself and I was not easily convinced that just any deal would benefit me or bring out my potential.”
Having had a few scrapes and some dismal performances by music managements, Okal decided that in the best interest of her budding music career, she needed to manage her own music portfolio. She quickly became both artiste and label boss, interfacing with music investors and sponsors on the way forward for her brand.
“I presently own my management consultancy agency named “Million Dollar Inc”. It seems it’s time I explore and accept the business part of me because for some years now I have been the brains behind my music, promotions, activations and every other aspect.”
Okal describes her music as Afro Soul Highlife, an eclectic blend of her childhood music influences like Ebenezer Obey, Orlando Owoh, Beautiful Nubia, IK Dairo and the her own developed preferences of Tracy Chapman, Taylor Swift, Don Williams, Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers
“My sound came from the fact that I wasn’t taken seriously by my parents and I was ready to prove them wrong and convince them with conscious music.”
On the inspiration behind her signature look of white-hair, Okal explains it as a branding decision.
“I have always wanted to create a unique brand for myself. The white hair is more than just a style; it’s an identity that helps differentiate Okal And Karimat. I am looking forward to showcasing both sides of these personalities.”
Okal is fiercely focused on getting people to connect to her unique sound and so is exploring a solo project for her upcoming LP, ‘State Of Mind’ but she’s not ruling out a collaboration effort in the future.
“A duet with Nasty C or Kwesi Arthur won’t be a bad Idea. On the global scene, a collaboration with Stefflon Don or Rihanna will be great.”
The white-haired Diva who single-handedly took on non-consenting parents and is fearlessly navigating the space with her own brand of music and magic is not done yet. Her mission is simple and straightforward; make an indelible mark in the industry and inspire other female artistes in the process.
This article was written by Henri ‘Yire; connect on Instagram with him here