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PERSONALITY OF THE WEEK: WIYAALA

Performers who go on reality TV talent shows don’t tend to have too much of a message to deliver, however, that wasn’t the case of Afro-pop diva, Wiyaala.

Noella Wiyaala was born in Wa, Upper West Ghana as one of four sisters and grew up in Funsi and Tumu.

She got first singing lessons from her mother, a choir singer in the local church, and she has performed ever since she was 5 years old. Her surname, which she picked for a stage name, means “the doer” in her native Sisaala language.

During her late teenage years, she played football as a midfielder. She attended Kansec Secondary School and later Kanton Secondary High in Tumu, where she acquired a reputation for being a tom-boy, playing football and was in demand as a dancer and entertainer in school productions.

She also attended Takoradi Polytechnic on an art and design course.

 

The Ghanaian Afro pop/Afro rock singer/songwriter who sings in her native Sissala and Waale dialects and English, but with a poppy catchiness inspired by Western Culture, combines all three languages within her songs.

Looking to establish a national career, she made the journey to Accra to audition for Ghana’s own “Stars of the Future”. At the third attempt in 2011 she earned her way into the finals, winning two Golden Moments awards. She also won the 2012 Vodafone ICONS Mixed Edition contest hosted by fellow Benny Blanco, as part of the Ghanaian band Black N Peach, while singing Tina Turner’s “Simply The Best”.

She left the Black N Peach band in April 2013, after releasing one single, Wonkoa, to pursue a solo career with Djimba World Records. Her first release was “Make Me Dance” which featured Ghana’s first ever underwater scenes in a music video, and soon afterwards the single “Rock My Body”, which quickly became a hit and won her two awards at the 2014 edition of the All Africa Music Awards,vthe Most Promising Artiste in Africa and Revelation of The African Continent.

Wiyaala’s single, “Make Me Dance”, was originally produced by Genius Selection in Ghana, but has been remixed in Los Angeles by Bill Delia for the international market on the Djimba World Records label, under exclusive license to Paris based JTV Digital.

In November 2014 Wiyaala released her “official” debut album, the eponymously titled “Wiyaala” which was nominated for album of the year at the Vodafone Ghana Music Awards 2015 and the All Africa Music Awards 2015.

The 30 year old vocalist has also made a huge impression with her fashion style. She got a nomination for “Female Personality of the Year” at the 2014 Ghana’s Fashion Icon Awards, with a dress sketched and designed by herself. She designs her own stage dresses and jewellery to showcase the culture of the people from her home region. She also won “the Best Individual Style” Award at the Glitz Style Awards 2015.

 

The epitome of a free-thinking, liberated woman herself, she’s become one of the major voices of young Ghana, keen to engage with global culture while not relinquishing a grasp of her heritage. “We love our ‘African-ness’,” she says, “but we also want to embrace and take our place as equal citizens in the modern world.” Known as the Young Lioness Of Africa, and clearly influenced by the equally striking Angelique Kidjo, Wiyaala’s strident Afro-pop is the sound of the continent taking the 21st century by the balls.

 

Wiyaala is associated with UNICEF Ghana and the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection of Ghana in campaigns against child marriage, child poverty, health and sanitation. Wiyaala is a brand ambassador for PepsiCo in West Africa, alongside Nigerian singer Tiwa Savage, promoting Pepsi throughout Ghana as the brand looks to grab a larger share of the soft drinks market. She is also the Converse All Stars ambassador for Ghana since 2014.

 

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