Winner of MTN Project Fame Season 6, Olawale Ojo, tells Saturday Beats about his career
Why did you decide to be a part of the MTN Project Fame competition?
I never thought of getting the form but it was during the Academic Staff Union of Universities strike that my friends advised me to go for the competition instead of singing every time in the room. One of them printed the form for me after downloading it online and asked me to fill it. He told me I did not have a choice. He challenged me to go for it and I listened to his advice. It was during the strike that I went for Project Fame. But for the strike, I most likely would have remained in school repairing faulty phones and attending church and lectures. With the strike, I had nothing to do; there were no students and so my shop was ‘dry.’ I decided to go for the competition instead of staying in school where nothing was happening.
Are you still friends with the person who got the form for you?
We are still very good friends.
Does anybody in your family sing?
No, I am the first musician in my family. My parents are into trading. My younger brother is the only one taking interest in music now.
How did you discover that you had a good voice?
It was when people began to make remarks that I had a good and unique voice after I joined the choir in the university. They often said that I should work on the voice.
Before Project Fame, what was your life like?
I was just a regular guy. I am a student of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology. I had a shop in school where I repaired and sold phones and laptops. It was to raise money for myself. I was also a church boy; I attended church regularly.
Since you are studying Agronomy, how did you learn to fix phones?
I love gadgets a lot. I am a gadget freak. I have friends that started the business. I used to take peoples’ faulty phones to those friends to fix for me. From there, I studied what they were doing and I asked questions about certain issues. Gradually, I learnt how to fix phones myself. I discovered that when I had issues with my phone, I was always curious about the problem. I did not go for any training but learnt on my own how to fix phones.
Were you doing it as a hobby or to sponsor yourself through school?
I was not doing it as a hobby; I was doing it to get some money by the side. My parents were paying my school fees and every other necessary fee but as the first born of the family, I did not want to burden them with any other responsibility I had in school. I did not want to always ask them for money for everything I needed.
How was growing up?
I was very troublesome while growing up. I was always climbing trees, playing football and my father used to beat me a lot. At a point, I got used to his beatings.
What did you dream of becoming in life?
My father always wanted me to be a medical doctor and I had always towards that. When I was in secondary school, I was a bookworm but when I got to the university, my orientation changed. I realised that in this country, most times you do not get what you want, and you have to accept what is offered you. So when I was offered Agronomy instead of Medicine, I accepted my fate.
What was your father’s reaction?
It was not easy convincing him because he asked what I would do with a degree in Agronomy. I had to convince him that the course of study at times did not matter. I told him I had plans to add value to my certificate with other professional courses or a Masters’ Degree. He had no choice but to agree with what I said. He said that it was my life and that God knew best. I had to really convince him because along the line, I discovered that I might not have coped if I was offered medicine in the university. When I saw what medical students went through, I did not feel bad that I was offered agronomy.
How were you able to convince him about your music?
My father and I were always at loggerheads when it came to me and my music. He did not support me in any way and whenever I sang where he was, it was as if I was disturbing his peace. Even when I was singing at home or humming a tune, he would just tell me to keep quiet, that I was disturbing the people at home. I was always trying to be better but he would put me down because as of that time, he had not had the opportunity of seeing me perform on stage. I tried to convince him but it took time for me to convince him before he really believed I could sing. Project Fame was actually the first time he saw me perform on the stage. I told him when I was participating in the contest and by that time, he had fully accepted my talent.
So how did he feel when you won?
He was very proud of me. He felt that in my own way, I was able to make my family proud and he was happy about that. After the competition, I learnt that he really supported me by canvassing support for me from friends and family members. He spent a lot of money voting. He really went out of his comfort zone to make everything work for me and I am really grateful for that.
How about your five million naira prize money, how did you spend it?
I paid my tithes, bought a keyboard for myself and gave my brother the one I was using before. I gave my family some money and invested the rest in my career.
How have you been able to cope with school and music?
It has not been easy balancing both but I have been trying my best to make sure that everything works. I have been trying hard because most times, I travel down from Ogbomoso to Lagos for shows and at the same time, I have to go for lectures and write tests and exams. I just commit everything to God’s hands because I believe He brought me this far and I just have to make it work because I promised myself I would not drop out of school for any reason.
How are the ladies treating you now?
The attention is more. Personally, I don’t have time for ladies because I am always working in the studio.
Do you think you can the surpass standard set by past winners of Project Fame?
I believe that with God, I can do all things. He got me this far and I know he is still taking me places. I cannot compare anybody’s success level with mine because I know that where God is taking me, I would have testimonies to give. One thing I am certain of is that I am going to be a great success.
How is your new music, Is Notin, doing in the market?
The whole concept of the song is based on my belief that whatever you want to achieve in life, you can achieve it. You just have to work hard and be determined. You can achieve anything and the acceptance level has been very good for my first song. That was my first song in the studio and the video would be out very soon. (Punch)