Throwback: Adina Sings “Don’t Judge Me”

It is incredible to think Adina Thembi has had a ten-year stint in the music industry, albeit a period of ‘silence’ due to academic pursuits at a point. The talented singer first registered her presence on the music scene as a contestant on ‘’Stars of The Future’’, a music reality show in 2008. The singer would go on to win that year’s show. But like most winners of such music reality shows, their foray into mainstream music does not often go according to plan.

It’s usually the case that they score one hit and disappear like a puff of smoke. So, with Adina Thembi, the story of her going ‘silent’ after a few good radio joints was not really outside of the template. Her absence was attributed to her pursuit of academic studies at the Central University College, graduating with honours in Environmental and Development Studies in 2012

Under a new management, Adina picked up from where she left off, scoring a number of hits, winning awards (2018 VGMA Female Vocalist) and establishing herself as one of the beautiful voices on the Ghanaian music space. With hit songs like ‘’Killing Me Softly’’, ‘Coastal Vibes’, ‘Let Me Go’, ‘Sika’, ‘M’akoma’, and her current radio dominating tune ‘’On My Way’’, the singer, born to a Ghanaian mother and a Liberian father is indeed thriving.

Adina Thembi (Pics from Twitter)

Personal singles aside, she has demonstrated a good working relationship with other artistes. As a guest act, she has proven her class, offering memorable vocal bliss on songs like “One Love” with Flowking Stone and TeePhlow’s ”Forgive”

Casting a squeaky clean image of self, Adina looks like a born star – she’s elegant, smart and talented- qualities that shines through her music.

In an interview with Accra based Hitz FM, the award winning vocalist indicated her approach to music and why she often keeps her lyrics clean:.

“I started out in a certain way which formed my brand pattern…there are certain things I will not put in my songs basically because of what I represent as an artiste and where I’m trying to go…Even if I’m talking about love, it has got a way that is peculiar to me. I don’t want to say words that will take me away…There are nice ways to go about writing songs”- Adina, [Graphic Online, Mar 29]

Adina’s music sojourn began professionally after winning the “Stars of The Future” reality show in 2008 under the guidance of Jayso, the head of Skillions Records. Himself an artist and producer, he assisted the young singer hone her talent. The result was a couple of songs that explored her strengths.

Among the songs released during her stint with the Skillions include “Music” where, along with Jayso, personified the power of music and the essence it serves humanity. “Sing a melody with all my heart/ With me you can have a conversation/ Our harmony is confirmation/ Hold me like an acoustic guitar/ It don’t matter where/ I’m happy where you are”, she echoed over the soft, gliding piano chords that the music conveyed.

Only God has a right to judge me
You’re not God so don’t try to judge me
Only God has a right, has a right
You’re not God

Adina is an artiste whose music sensibilities seemed shaped by RnB/Soul. The stems of these genres are audible in her music even when performing afropop jams. One song from her earlier days under the Skillions imprint which affirms her RnB/Soul influence was “Don’t Judge Me”. The song played, partly on the biblical sermon of being non- judgemental. On the record, Adina and Jayso took turns to express their chagrin at judgmental mortals who want to play God.

“Don’t Judge Me” was built around a simple drum and snare sound. The song also carried an RnB/Soul feel with the hip hop sounding drums acting like a hedge holding the beat in check. Though strong, the aching vulnerability in her voice was evident. The lyrics in the first verse of “Don’t Judge Me” betrayed a tired soul encumbered by people’s judgement.

“Please, leave me and let me be/Don’t you get it? / I don’t want to be you/ You sentence me without trying me/ Look in the mirror and you’d see my errors/ Brother judging”, she intoned on the record.

The inherent hypocrisy of people (“You preach purity/ But you wear jealousy”) and how easy it is for others to label you because your actions differ from theirs was tackled. Jayso would deliver a succinct lyric (bar) to sum the message up in his rap: “Who’re you to judge me?/No man’s above/And trust me, You not perfect, you still dusty”

Adina Thembi’s incremental success is not a stroke of luck. The relative but important gains is down to years of hard work and good artiste development. Talent, a matured personality and pleasant looks are helping carry her name farther. As some have hinted at, the only person standing between Adina and becoming the ‘queen of Ghana music’ is Efya. But, it’s just a matter of time.