Idris Elba is My Ideal Man – Singer Seyi Shay


A couple of years ago, Deborah Oluwaseyi Joshua aka Seyi Shay became the lead singer for the now defunct pop girl group, From Above, which had a recording deal with Sony/Columbia and was managed by Mathew Knowles’ Music World Entertainment, a company owned by Beyonce’s father. In November 2013, the British-born Nigerian singer/songwriter signed an endorsement deal with telecommunica­tions company, Etisalat. After successfully releas­ing a couple of singles including Irawo, Ragga Ragga, Chairman, and Murda, featuring Patorank­ing and Sheydee, Seyi Shay is now working on her debut album.

In this chat with Entertainer, she talks about her career, heartbreak, and celebrity crush among other issues. Excerpts:

What project are you currently working on?

I am working on my album so there will not be much noise coming from me for the next couple of months. I hope to release it by the end of this year or the begin­ning of 2015. I am working with very talented produc­ers and writers; people are really coming together to make sure that Seyi Shay gets her sound right. We are about to go to Kenya to shoot a TV series and I have just dropped another single. So many exciting things are happening and I give God all the praises.

What inspired the single?

Dr. Fabs produced this great beat and wanted me to come over to the Star Boy house to listen to it. So off I went and it turned out very nice. I saw Shaydee chilling out with friends, so I invited him aboard. At the end of the session, I wasn’t really down with the song, so I left it in the studio for like two or three months. Shaydee and Dr. Fabs kept calling me even though I told them that I didn’t like the song. Eventually, I went back and we invited Patoranking over, and within 10 minutes, he knocked it out. I also called Sound Sultan because he is very talented and he is also one of my mentors. He told me that the song was not strong enough so he rewrote my verse. In fact, different people wrote the song. Even Vector the Viper was in the studio and added his own ideas, so I think the song was inspired by collaborative efforts.

How did you meet Patoranking and what ce­mented the chemistry between you and him?

It is the new school thing; I like to include people like Waje and Yemi Alade because we are all coming from the same generation. What helped Murda was the fact that Patoranking is fresh and Seyi Shay is fresh. I that song and for me, Patoranking is one of the most talented artistes we have right now while Shaydee has the best voice; I wanted real talent on the song. just wanted fresh and talented people on

We understand you just returned from the Caribbean, how was the trip?

Wow! We went to the 25th Caribbean Musical Festival. This year, they had people like Beanie Man, Kelly Rowland and a lot of dance hall reggae artistes performing. It was a nice trip for us because we went as ambassadors of Nigeria. The aim was to build a bridge between Caribbean and Afro music.

So, how was the experience there?

We went to the Island of Benkek, met the Prime Minister and we spoke to him on how we would like to be ambassadors of African music in the Caribbean. We also spoke to some radio stations on how we would build bridges between Afro and Caribbean music, because I discovered that in their clubs and restaurants, they played a lot of Iyanya and PSquare, and most of the local people didn’t even know that Iyanya, PSquare and Da­vido are Nigerians. It was very interesting to see that these people love and download our songs without knowing who we are. So, that was why we had to tell them that we are Africans and most especially, Nigerians.

Who are your influences?

Growing up, I was greatly influenced by Western musicians like Michael Jackson, Destinys’ Child, Madonna, Mina Simony, Brandy, Esther Wivi and the likes. When I became a musician and started taking music seriously, I began listening to a wider range of music. I did more of Bob Marley because while growing up in London, I was exposed to reggae and dance hall music which has its own culture. I was born in North London and that is where the Jamaican reggae dance hall and the likes started. Pri­or to that, I had been listening to a lot of Chris Brown and Beyonce.

Who do you look up to in the Nigerian music scene?

I have no choice but to listen to the likes of King Sunny Ade, Shina Peters, Onyeka Onwenu and Ebenezer Obey. As a child, I started listening to all these musicians because of my mum. I had no choice but to listen and grow up with Afrobeat because it was my mum’s kind of music, but when I became more independent, I started listen­ing to Michael Jackson and Madonna.

Have you ever done a song based on heartbreak?

Yes, I have done one. It is called No Vacancy but it isn’t out yet.

What was your experience in that relationship?

The guy wasn’t feeling the same way as I was feeling, but I only discovered that after a while.

Did he cheat on you?


How did it happen?

I don’t know how it happened but it was very heart breaking.

If the guy comes back and beg for forgiveness, would you take him back?

No, I wouldn’t take him back.

Did you catch him red handed with another woman?


What were your major challenges while com­ing up?

My major challenge was being female. Most of the shows were for guys; there weren’t enough females that could compete with the guys. So, my challenge was to make people see me because I knew that my stage performance would make the difference. I just had to maximize that area and rehearse for a year with my dancers so that whenever the opportunity came up we would put up a good show.

Did some people try to discourage you when you started?

When I started performing in Nigeria I never got applause, but thank God I never got booed either. Initially, people didn’t know who I was and what I was up to.

What kept you going?

Flytime Promotions kept me going. They kept putting me on big platforms and shows. I even discouraged myself some­times saying that I couldn’t do it because people weren’t going to clap and all that, but they told me to hang on because the more I performed, the more people would see and appreciate me. At a stage, I started getting positive results and a lot of shows started coming my way.

What has changed about Seyi Shay?

To be honest with you, I can definitely say people know my songs now. When I sang Irawo recently, a lot of people waved their hands as if it were a praise and wor­ship song because it has such a strong mes­sage. I even see some people cry when I sing it because it speaks to them personally. I can definitely say that Murda, my new song, has caught a lot of people’s attention. I did that song in Ibadan and people were screaming. That was the best thing that has happened to me this year. After that, I went to Warri and Port Harcourt. So, it is just a matter of being patient and finding the right song, because once you find the right song, you don’t have to do much, you will just perform and everyone will follow your vibe.

What was the naughtiest thing you did growing up?

I pecked my high school crush, Oke. He was so intelligent and everybody wanted to be his friend. So, he said to me one day that if I wanted to be his girl friend, I had to peck him and I pecked him! Everyone was screaming as I gave him the peck, and I ended up being his girlfriend.

Who is your celebrity crush?

I have a crush on Idris Elba. He is a Hol­lywood actor but he is actually a Nigerian; he is British Nigerian. He is in lots of Hollywood movies and last year, he was in Nigeria for a contest, and it was like my dream had come true. I didn’t get to see him, but one day, I will.

What would you do with Idris Elba behind closed doors?

That’s for me and Idris Elba only.

You didn’t speak much about your dad, why?

That is because I don’t have a close relationship with him but he is cool. I have fathers; I never grew up with my biological dad.

Is it because he married another woman or had other kids?

Yes, but I am not keeping away from him; we even talk on the phone every day.

When last did you see him?

I saw him earlier this year.

When are you planning to settle down?

I want to settle down one day. I feel that I have another four years of real hard work to establish myself and get my feet firmly in place; and make the foundation for my passion stronger. When my feet are firmly planted I think I will be ready for my own family.

Are you seeing someone right now?

Yes. I will tell you when he puts a ring on my finger; I can’t say anything now in case we break up.

Could you marry someone from the music industry?

I wouldn’t mind marrying someone from the industry; it doesn’t matter your profes­sion; what matters is hard work and a good heart.

Could you describe your ideal man?

Idris Elba is my ideal man. Mere looking at him and you could decipher Seyi Shey’s ideal man. I am saying this with a big sorry to my boyfriend.

You sound like you have had it easy all your life. Can you tell us about something that has brought you close to tears lately?

Nothing has been smooth. My mum died at a young age, I didn’t grow up with my dad, and my lover and I broke up!

Tell us about your most terrible experience?

That was the death of my mum.

How did this happen?

She had high blood pressure and it caused some complications that led to an operation in her brain. It was so sensitive; she didn’t make it.

How did you feel when the news was broken to you?

I was devastated.

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Idris Elba is My Ideal Man – Singer Seyi Shay
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