Effervescent singer/songwriter, Yinka Davies hailing from Nigeria put on a storming,
eclectic show on the second night of an audience participation/call and response experience at Canada Water. Yinka’s body of work, mostly self-penned, stretches from smooth jazz, reggae, native Yoruba, French and everything in between, but always with class and sassiness. A hard act to follow, Yinka says: “I gate crash everything!” That’s all artistic endeavours, including acting, comedy, and amazing singing. She’s had no professional training for any aspects of her creative talents, giving thanks to the Creator. She knows how to party, have fun, dance, whilst meeting and greeting friends and family alike.
Yinka’s smoky jazz voice soars beautifully, reminiscent of Mariam Makeba and a touch of Sade, as she tackles subjects like HIV AIDS, warning us, especially young people: “Don’t play dice with your life.” Yinka says passionately: “I’m trying to be an example, though I don’t always succeed. Things don’t always go according to plan, or the plan back fires. However, I’m committed to Nigeria in every way, and will do what I can to champion my country.”
Dancing, laughing, singing without missing a beat, Yinka Davies indeed gave us a Divine Concert as billed. It was worth the wait to have Yinka on UK soil, having been denied a visa five times. Larger than life, yet with an ability to create an intimate setting when she can force herself to sit still,Yinka’s versatility and resilience is a shared triumph!
Written by Fatima Dupres-Griffiths
ABOUT YINKA DAVIES
Born in July 16, 1970, shortly after the pangs of the Nigerian civil war were gradually losing their grip on the psyche of the people, Yinka Davies’ potential got a boost while she was growing up in patey street, Metta,Lagos, Nigeria under the watchful eyes of her paternal grandmother.
One who was largely fascinated by the communality of those early days, Yinka usually shoneas “Okoro” an Igbo character in the regular dramatic skits that took place under the dim monnlight when children gathered share the Joy of innocence.
Reminiscing on those good old days, Yinka notes that “everybody’s child was everybody’s
child” Little wonder, her inclination for largely African thematic learning’s and concerns in
her artistic engagements. As Africans, we are insular. What touches one man, does the other man. This would seem to encapsulate Yinka’s beliefs.
If she appears playful on stage, it’s because her music creates an escape route to being
childlike; a singer who has fused different styles of music to create a unique blend of
Nigerian music that is globally appealing and accepted is a child at heart!
Yinka’s greatest asset is her voice. That unmistakeable energy of the stunninly sonorous voice that touches the soul.
The voice is sweet and jaunts happily through her lyrics when she performs with blasting
emotions with a strong nostalgic groove that carves a niche in music history.
Somehow, music seem inextriably tied to her destiny. Her voice flourishes whether
accompanied or accapella. She brands her music “ecclecentric” an instructive effort in
creative diversity. She is unique and has no comparison with any contemporary Nigerian
artiste. Her voice pervades an unbelievable range of Blues, Highlife, Salsa, Swing, Soft Rock, and Traditional folksongs. Rave reviews and flattering commentary has adorned Yinka Davies’ powerful, soulful and poignant vocal delivery over the years.
Her artistic journey began with her love for fine arts when she was 8yrs old.
This total entertainment streak is said to be a direct inhritance from her late Aeronautical
Engineer father who was in the Nigerian Airforce. The man, himself a music enthusiast,
composer and lyricist must have, in one way or another, imbued Yinka with greater part of
his artistic genes.
She went on a school’s expedition to the National Art Theatre for fine arts in 1986 and stayed there!
Bisi Fakeye, a renowned Nigerian Sculpture and Abiodun Olaku also renowned Painter were her teachers but only for some months.
She moved to a three dimensional, seeing actors on stage. Bassey Effiong was her first
director. Later, she got taught to dance by Elizabeth Hammond, more stage directions by Sam Loco Efe, Arnold Udoka, Bayo Oduneye, Chuck Mike, Niji Akanni and Felix Okolo.
Her singing career; which Yinka admits began by accident, has Sam Uquah as the God-sent catalyst. For someone without any formal training whatsoever in singing, it was Sam who insisted one auspicious day in 1990 that Yinka must sing.
And sing she did! From the French Cultural centre Lagos, Kano, to Goethe Institute, to the
American festivals, the British jazz evenings etc
Her early stints with Alex O, Esse Agesse, Blackky, won her FAME music award’s best
upcoming artiste of the year 1992
Her work continued with Sir Shina Peters, Mike Okri, Telemi, Vitus Eze, Lagbaja etc.
Her musical odessey was also to see a positive turning-point when she pitched her tent with Lagbaja, Nigerian’s masked Afrocentric musical pathfinder. It was Lagbaja’s early live shows and audio CD releases that Yinka literally showed the Nigerian music-loving public that she was a female singing sensation in waiting. With her soulful chants which starts off one of Lagbaja’s adorable tracks “side by side” Yinka has etched her name and voice in the chamber of the world’s unfogettable voices.
As Yinka’s talents continued to find one platform after another for expression, so did her
profile. She was about to reach artistic apex when she got involed in an accident.She went
back to work with Felix Okolo, a theatre director and playwright whose directional skills are as complex as his dramaturgy is eccentric. In one of Okolo’s plays then “Mekunu Melody”
Yinka not only excelled with her refreshing role interpretation, she also became one of the
most memorable character of the play.
She finished the command perfomance with a POP cast on her leg in Jan 1994.
Slowing down her meteoric rise, she returned as though she never left! Goethe Instintute,
under the direction of Richard Lang, proposed Yinka for a tour of Rome, Tunisia and Milan, for the African Film Festival happening in Milan and she released a CD with a collective of African women titled “Donna Africa” in 1997.
Yinka’s first solo album titled “Emi n’lo” was recorded in 1999 and released in 2002.
The hit songs “Bambam bata” “Eko ile” “K’Oluwa ko so” and “Emi a r’owo f’use” enjoyed
appreciable playing time on radio but was not well ciculated due to financial constraints