Lioness Oyinbo is a blogger, journalist, fiction writer and singer.
The entertainer whose real name is Lynn Siri Martinussen is Norwegian but an afrobeat singer. Her latest single is a duet with Nigerian singer, Lace, Let’s Go Party. She is signed to Slim Entertainment Records, a Nigerian label.
In this interview with PREMIUM TIMES, Lioness Oyinbo, who was born blind, talks about her music, her condition and her blog.
PT: On your blog, you described yourself as the first white singer signed to a Nigerian label. How sure are you of this fact?
Lioness Oyinbo: I believe I am because I haven’t heard of any white woman who signed in Nigeria. Also, I have not really met anyone who is as crazy about Afrobeat as me.
PT: What exactly attracted you to Nigeria and its music?
Lioness Oyinbo: I don’t think I actually chose Nigeria, I think Nigeria chose me. It’s a very interesting country. I love Nigerian literature, I love the music. Honestly I initially wanted to do reggae/dancehall in London but that didn’t work out so I thought about giving up music and focus on my journalism then I published something on Soundcloud that was picked up by my former manager who convinced me to come to Nigeria.
Of course, I was initially scared because of the bad press Nigeria receives in the West but in the end I was getting a lot of positive response from Nigerians so that’s why I said Nigeria chose me and I’m happy.
PT: Tell us how about your music career and how it all started?
Lioness Oyinbo: I’ve been singing since I was little. I’ve been in church choirs, worship teams but I knew I was never going to be a religious singer so I wanted to take it to the secular market. I tried a few things but I am here now to start a new project in Nigeria. Before now, people didn’t know my name in music.
PT: How did you acquire the moniker, Lioness Oyinbo?
Lioness Oyinbo: My name is Lynn. I got the Lioness from my hair, golden colour and curly like a lioness. I don’t know exactly how but somehow, a few of my friends called me lioness in London. For the oyinbo part, that was from Oritsefemi. When we did a recording session, he was to do the introduction and he was messing around, calling me Lioness Oyinbo, and since then it just kind of stuck. Ever since then, my friends here in Nigeria call me Lioness Oyinbo.
PT: How many songs have you recorded so far?
Lioness Oyinbo: I have recorded eight songs but they are unreleased. The only one that has been released is the one with Lace. I have the collaboration with Oritsefemi, which isn’t out but it’s a banger, a Fela Kuti kind of track.
PT: What’s sort of reception has Let’s Go Party received?
Lioness Oyinbo: It’s a kind of song I never thought I would do because it’s very techno-ish. It’s a very cool song, people love it. The video has already received a lot of views and all my family and friends in the UK are super proud. I think the song will do very well.
PT: How challenging was it shooting the video?
Lioness Oyinbo: Shooting a video when you can’t see is hard because you need to know what’s going on. It was difficult because I kept receiving two different types of instructions. I had one person telling me one thing and one person telling me the other and they were shouting. I think next time I’m shooting a video, that’s not going to happen. I need to know the choreography beforehand.
PT: Have you ever performed on stage and how was it?
Lioness Oyinbo: I have performed on stage several times but this is a whole new experience. I’m a bit nervous about the dancing but I’m learning everyday.
PT: Can you dance “shoki?”
Lioness Oyinbo: I know how to do shoki. That was the first dance I learnt.
PT: Who are your favourite Nigerian artistes?
Lioness Oyinbo: I love the females because I think girls need to support each other in the music industry. I love Emma Nyra, Tiwa Savage, Yemi Alade too. Among the guys obviously, Tuface. Who doesn’t like Tuface? I like Kiss Daniels and a whole lot of them.
PT: Talking about your blogging, how do you type?
Lioness Oyinbo: I use a normal computer but I just have software installed that speaks to me so I know what I’m writing. I do everything like you do I just hear instead of seeing on the screen.
PT: What sort of feedback do you receive on your blog?
Lioness Oyinbo: I’ve had this blog for years and every time I want to close it, I get new followers. I just have to blog about blindness because the world has so many misconceptions about it and I see it as we blind people have a duty to educate the world that it’s just the eyes that aren’t working, not the brain. Blindness is not any imperfection, it’s nothing like that.
It really hurts me that some people think that I’m less perfect than someone else because I’m blind. I mean we all have imperfections as people but I don’t think blindness is my imperfection. It’s a challenge for sure and some days, I really wish I could see because it could be frustrating but I am sure that you wake up and you look at one thing in your life and say this is my imperfection. That’s why I don’t want people to look at my blindness and say it’s an imperfection. If I have any imperfection, it might be something in my character or something else but it is nothing physical about me.