The Women Arise Concert took place last week, and it was everything we expected it to be and more. The event opened with Topsticks – a delicious all girl band. And they played us some crowd favourites. The band is made up of two guitarists, a keyboardist and a drummer and they are all girls, which even outside the Nigerian scene is rare. They were a very talented group and one we hope to see again soon. Then they introduced us to their singer and she wooed the audience with her vocals, stepping off the stage and weaving between tables and chairs.
Their act was followed by Phisayo – a spoken word poet. Phisayo performed two poems. Of the two, I preferred the first. It was concise, clear and impactful. She had the audience at ‘….last night I had intercourse.’ I’m not usually pulled in by bold statements like that, but her delivery, her delivery was certainly something to experience. And this, besides the fact that she was reading off her phone; you barely noticed in fact. She moved around, made use of the stage space, lowered and increased her volume as required; she kept you focused on her the entire time.
She was a hard act to follow…and I shouldn’t really critique myself, but where would be the fun in refraining? How was I? I’m no great performer but I believe I held my own. I used the mic stand, as I never need an excuse to stay on one spot. But I like to think I got my message along to the listeners. I noticed that they didn’t seem aware that I had ended my first poem, so perhaps that’s something I need to look into. But they appeared to enjoy my second.
Wome Umeye went next; yet another spoken word artiste. I was looking forward to Wome’s performance, and she did not disappoint. It was very earthy. Very Asa meets Erika Badu. She used a cabasa/tambourine in her first poem and had Topsticks back her up. It was a poem about being God’s own and being proud of who you were and I think the audience connected with it. Wome had confided in me that her second poem was written for Women Arise, but you would not have been able to tell. She had us all clicking with her, and hanging on her every word.
Our hosts Line and Ugochi were amazing. They were funny, they kept things moving and Ugochi’s intro to rap was…something!
Women Arise may be a special event, but in true Freedom Hall fashion, the stage was opened up for open mic. And in true Freedom Hall fashion – talent was discovered. The individual who stood out for me was Ivoda/Evoda. She sang acapella and oh boy, the girl can siiiiiiiiiiiiing.
Vanessa was another open mic act that had me leaning forward with rapt attention. Vanessa you had at me at PUUUUUUUUUUSH!!! Part of my appreciation for Vanessa’s poem was born from the fact that I am a writer, and her poem addressed inspiration, imagination, breaking free from your mental constraints, the freedom and liberty of expressing yourself, and so much more.
Ire de stage devii – woooooow. I remember watching her thinking, is this what a female Fela would have been like? Earlier I mentioned Phisayo making use of stage space…Ire can NEVER gain weight – she leapt, spun, stomped, screamed and shouted from one end of the stage to another. It was magnificent performance to witness and it is one of those performances that stay with you, long after it has ended.
As I understand it, Rcube are a girl band from project fame. Not a Topsticks style girl band, but an all singing girl band. I loved how different their voices were and how they blended them together. They were all lovely looking ladies, and clearly they all had their different styles and different musical backgrounds. In honour of Women Arise, they performed TWO of their upcoming singles. Yes, we heard it at Women Arise first!!!
Ruby Gyang was our last major performance. I never get tired of watching her perform or hearing her sing and I love her songs. And she has found a home at Chocolate City, and I wish her the best. Topsticks was unable to back her up, but like a true star she sang anyway. If you have not heard her songs Good Man or It’s Okay, do something about that TODAY. Her vocals are spectacular.
I have not covered all the performances, and there were other memorable acts; but this is just a teaser into what the night was like. If you missed it…well…there will be other events from Freedom Hall.