On Sunday night, Tiwa Savage featured on prominent entertainment channel, E! for its new show tagged the ‘E! VIP series’ – a mini documentary on some of Africa’s best entertainers.
On the episode which features the Mavin first lady, she talked about a wide range of topics – such as her humble beginnings, her relationship with former manager/estranged hubby, Tee Billz, being a mother, the legacy she wants to leave behind and more.
Here are 10 things we learnt from the revealing documentary.
- Tiwa’s mum once thought she might be gay due to her tom-boy nature while growing up.
“Since I was a kid, I knew I wanted to be an entertainer but African parents they were like No. Choose one. Doctor, Lawyer, Engineer or one of those ones. Music is not an option. So I had to go to school to study business and accounts.”
Tiwa’s dad who was also featured in the documentary confirmed her passion for music at a young age and said he gave her a condition that if indeed music was her calling, she would have to get a first degree in a professional course.
He said, “She has always wanted to do music and go into music. Growing up, she used to organise musical shows for all the children in the estate and she will lead the group. So my condition was that if you want to go into music, you must have your first degree, finish your secondary education, go to university and after that you can go into music.”
3. She had to get a job to self-finance her musical career in its primitive stages.
After university, Tiwa needed money to kick-start her career in music so heeding to her parent’s advice, she was forced to get a day job as a trainee accountant – a job she quit as she sunk into a depressive state after getting ‘tired of counting other people’s money’ and wanting to make hers.
“So when I graduated, I said to my dad ‘Here is your degree, I have given you want you want and I’m going to do music’. They were like ‘No, you can’t move to America, you need money’ So I got a job as a trainee accountant and I got tired of counting other people’s money.I wanted to start counting my own money because I thought Hey there is a whole lot of money around here. What’s going on? That was a transition. It got to a point that every morning I’ll wake up and I’ll be depressed going to work. I wanted to sing and at that point I was prepared to lose everything. That’s when I knew there was a big calling on my life to do this.”
4. Tiwa Savage revealed how TeeBillz, her former manager helped give her image a face-lift and build the Tiwa Savage brand.
The Mavin star expressed how she felt she couldn’t compete with the women in Los Angeles after she moved to the city of angels on the completion of her music course at the Berkley college of music.
She said’, “I moved to America. I went to study music at the Berkley college of music. Then I moved to L.A. Now when you move to L.A. There are a lot of beautiful people there. Their skin is glowing, their teeth is perfect, their hair is amazing and I’m like looking around and for someone who doesn’t wax, I have like a uni-brow.”
She then met TeeBillz who became her manager and molded her into the Tiwa Savage brand we know today.
She said, “I needed to do something and I met my manager who is now my husband. He saw me and was like ‘you could be really pretty if you put an effort into it’ and I was like ‘wait what do you mean’ and he was like ‘you need to lose a little weight, wax your legs; that might be attractive. So he just literally put me through this whole program and told me that ‘the music is great, the talent is there but 80% of it is branding’. ‘So if you want to do the tom-boy thing, you have to take it to the extreme if you want to be hot and sexy you have to take it to the extreme. So I started learning how to wear heels and he basically just groomed me into the image of Tiwa Savage that we see now.”
5. Tiwa said it was never love at first sight with TeeBillz.
Tiwa felt Tunji Balogun aka Tee Billz was very arrogant and over confident. Due to this reason, she never saw herself getting romantically involved with him.
She said, “When I first met him I felt he was very arrogant. He was very tall, dark, handsome and very confident. He oozes that and he always expects that from me as well. So when I first met him, I didn’t fall in love. It wasn’t love at first sight. Although when he first met me, he said to me ‘so it’s either two things; I am either going to manage you or marry you. So I was just like ‘What! You are so full of yourself, I would never date you, let alone marry you’. So obviously, we decided he was going to manage me because I turned down the other option.”
However, on getting to discover another side of him, she fell for him.
She said, “We worked so closely together and I discovered this soft emotional guy. One who gave up everything for my career. He had a great business in L.A but he moved to Nigeria because he really believed in me more than I believed in myself. So gradually I just started seeing in him, this person. So it was inevitable. I tried to fight it. It can’t happen and I couldn’t help it.”
5. Tiwa explained how her and TeeBillz had their ‘fair share of marital ups and downs’, even narrating how they had a little argument at their wedding reception.
Of course we know what has befallen their marriage but in this documentary which was shot months before their infamous split, Tiwa discussed how they had issues like every other normal couple.
“Everybody who is married knows that there are up and downs in marriages and we had our fair share,” she said.
She further narrated how they fought on their wedding day.
“So we just had this little tiff outside and we are like arguing and everyone is like ‘welcome the beautiful bride and the groom and we are dancing in and he’s just like grumbling and it’s on camera. So everyone watching are like ‘Wait where you guys just arguing so it’s real but there are cute moments and real moments,” She told E!.
6. Tiwa Savage is not so into writing deep songs
The Mavin singer said her musical formula for her big hits does not include her writing deep songs that people don’t know what she is talking about because it can get so deep that the message could be lost.
“I am not really into writing something so deep that even you don’t understand what you saying. It’s so deep that the message gets lost. I feel there is a balance. You can be clever and witty with some of your words. When I write, it’s a combination of maybe what I have gone through, I have seen people got through or sometimes it’s just what I know people want to hear. Ultimately, people just want to hear good music. So I focus all of my energy on music and performances.”
7. Tiwa revealed how the birth of Jamil, her son, has re-energized her will to work harder.
Tiwa described how much joy and happiness Jamil has brought into her life. She is however, frightened for him due to the cruelty of the world. For this reason, she has vowed to put in more work to ensure a secure and brighter future for her precious little man.
“Every time I think of that little man, it’s a mixture of emotions. I’m happy, blessed but sometimes I’m also a little scared. He’s so precious. You and I know how cruel this world can be but sometimes I feel like he should just stay in this age where i can always protect him. Every time when I wake up and I see him, all of that just goes through my mind makes me work so much harder. I work so much more because I want leave a legacy for him. I want him to be proud of his mum. I want him to one day look at this interview with his wife and be like ‘that’s my mama’. You know.”
8. Tiwa Savage explained how motherhood has had an impact on her brand.
“My brand is built on the young, sexy, fresh, sassy, female singer and now I got a few rules here and there. Stretch marks (laughs) but I have to embrace those scars because that’s what reminds me of the miracle that I had.”
“So I like to talk about it a lot especially to African women because we hide behind it and we don’t talk about the real issues that comes with it. The pressure to lose weight. It’s fine if you never looked how you did before. You had a baby, if you had to choose between getting your old body back and choosing that baby, I’m sure everybody would choose that baby. So I will embrace my new body because I have a son.”
9. ‘The love is real’ in Mavin.
According to the Mavin singer, there are hardly any rifts between the artistes signed to the Don Jazzy-led label.
She said, “I hear rumours of rivalry between artistes in record labels but the love is real in Mavin. Definitely. We all have different lanes and I think that’s what helps because we don’t feel like we are competing with each other. Everybody has different images and different sounds.”
10. Tiwa revealed her desire to work with American award-winning artiste, Beyonce and Rihanna
“I would love to work with Beyonce. She is married. She has child of her own. She is still hot. Rihanna is that fierce alter-ego we all have in us. In front of the mirror, we all pretend to be Rihanna. So I’ll love to work with Rihanna.”
She also yearns to collaborate with other African artistes.
She said, “It’s not all just about international artistes. I really love AKA. I’d love to work with AKA as well as Diamond, Fally Ipupa and Lira.”