2011. It was a Saturday. I was at home going about my usual weekend clean up routine. I was in my parents bedroom cleaning when I heard a song that piqued my interest. The radio band was on Vibe 91.9 FM. Jeremie Van- Gershong was on air. Her Saturday mid-morning show was a big deal back then for some of us. That day, she announced the presence of a quest in the studio. Her name: EFYA.
Efya had branched out as a solo artist after being one part of the music duo, “Irene and Jane”. The duo had been formed after the first edition of the music reality show “Stars of The Future” in 2007. Efya, then known as Jane, had come up as the second runner up in the competition, with Irene voted the winner. The first runner up, Ramzy had been stripped off his title after it emerged he was part of a criminal gang who were subsequently jailed for carjacking.
After a successful career under the Irene and Jane umbrella, resulting in the release of an album – “Unveiled” which had features from the likes of Amandzeba, Blu3 and Wutah parted ways. The duo had also won the Best Female Vocal Performance Award at the 2008 Ghana Music Awards. They also scored nominations at both the KORA Awards and Channel O Music Video awards that same year off their album.
Exposure, financial backing and other important grooming machineries aimed at elevating these two ladies from ‘girls next door” to superstars was grinding efficiently. Between the years of forming the group to when the contract elapsed, Irene and Jane had become a household name. Their voices, faces and videos were known.
Now, how does one navigate the path of stardom when you don’t have the machinery that propelled you to where you are currently? How do you find your grounds and do it all by yourself? As a side note, we have seen many winners from music reality shows who came after Irene and Jane crash their careers before it took off. Passion and talent can take you a distance. Being financially solvent and having the right people around you would take you beyond the clouds.
Efya found a way to navigate these pitfalls. One, she had the resources – talent, team, finances. Two, she did something incredible: she reinvented herself and her music style. She first cut ties with her former identity, Jane. She chose to go with her local name Efya. Then, she morphed her music style along the lines of afro-soul, jazz and contemporary RnB. These decisions solidified her and musical direction, first manifested on her first two singles “Nothing” and “A Moments Notice”.
Hearing Efya’s voice and songs was like falling in love for the first time. Both “Nothing” and “A Moments Notice” gave my goosebumps. An unequivocal confession of love gleaned through her observation of her friends smitten by love and her own feeling of love shone across these two songs.
Efya’s smoky voice, her unrestrained vulnerability and the quality of songwriting and production works combined to seduce the listener at first listen. That was the day I became her fan. And I’m still a fan despite my criticism of her, sometimes. (Isn’t that the purpose of being a fan? Your ability to challenge your favourite artist to be the best through constructive criticism?).
“Nothing” was composed of hip hop, RnB and soul elements. The beat had hip hop stems. The singing style was a fusion between RnB and soul. In four verses, spanning a time of 4 minutes, 12 seconds, Efya narrated the disarming charms that comes out of a beautiful love affair. “Time and time, I try again/ To understand what life’s within/This feeling that I can’t break through/The results, the results, is me loving you/If it were easy, I would explain”, Efya chose to deliver this verse in a rap format.
Whereas “Nothing” leaned mostly towards hip hop and RnB, “A Moments Notice” was served with all the elements of soul and blues waltzing conspicuously like a model on a runway. Everything that defines Efya’s vocal gifts were displayed on this record: her range, harmonies and her capability to serenade on a live stage.
“Odo y3 d3 o”, her first words after those settling harmonies opened the gates to her beautiful world of music. “We talking about the things that we do when we’re in love/Midnight night calls, lounge in the park, head way up in the sky…making love all night”. If you’ve been in love, i mean, real love, you’d surely identify with these descriptive words.
On the song, Efya confesses she can not deny the fact that she had fallen in love with this partner despite her attempts to hold herself from catching the bug. The pristine quality of the music coupled with how short it was (2minutes, 41 seconds) made it even more magical. “A Moments Notice” is that record that makes you reminisce about that time you fell in love and also, leaves you desiring to be loved or inspiring you to go and find love.
Years on, Efya would put these two songs on T.I.N.T, her compilation album along with masterpieces like “Cigarette”, ” Weather For Two”, “Best In Me”, “Little Things” and “Falou”, her own rendition of Duncan Mighty’s modern classic ” Obianuju”.
Efya has become not only a fixture on the music scene in Ghana. Her profile has grown over the years around the continent. Her talent as a recording artist as well as her marvellous performances on stage had placed her way above her contemporaries. Her versatility, ability to blend various musical style, ending up sprinkling the “Efya special sauce” is one of the reasons sustaining her relevance. (Listen to Stonebwoy’s “Tia Tia” and you’ll get what I mean. Those harmonies added enough colour to the song).
Having an eight year experience since going solo, Efya has done and continues to do good for herself. Like many of her fans, I wish to see her do more, like become the foremost name on the continent when the list of top female artists are being mentioned. Her pursuit towards that has been quiet slow. A talent like her should not be confined to just Ghana, Nigerian markets. She should be a trendsetter on the continent and beyond. I want to see Efya win big time. Her talent is one that the world need to be talking about and not just her fans here in Ghana, Nigeria and other parts of the world. The clock is ticking.