Mairé Abia-Bassey is up Next

Tolulope Ebiseni
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“I want to be heard and listened to. I have so much to say and it’s going to happen” Maire tells me over a zoom call on a Saturday in June. To experience Mairé (either through her music or in-person) is to encounter a person who exudes supreme self-assurance. She has mastered the arts and waited years for her time to shine, climbing the corporate ladder and grinding for the dream.

 Not only does her art speak for itself, but it also signifies a culmination of true artistry that every artist yearns for, whether in technicality, vocals, or every other facet of good music. Maire is an Afro–urban singer and songwriter with a euphonious voice and a knack for live music. Her sound comprises of RNB, traditional Afrobeats and a blend of hip-hop.

At 15, Mairé wrote her first song. Music has always been a present figure in her life. At age 9, my cousin created a girl group and added some friends. “It was super fun and felt like we wanted to take over the world (laughs).” She credits her late mother, who she describes as having been musically inclined, and introducing her to music at a very young age. “While other kids were watching Cartoon Network and Disney, we were always watching music; morning, afternoon, and night,” she adds.

While her biggest inspiration in life is her journey, her mother holds plays an important role in that journey. She holds her late mother in high regard. Unfortunately, in 2013, her mother passed away. She described it as the most terrifying thing that has shaped her life and journey;

“losing my mother was a rude awakening for me. It was the first time in my life that I was genuinely terrified. I grew up with so much love and care and I didn’t have to worry about anything in life if my mum was around. All this ended when she left us”

Mairé says the experience made her grounded and able to see things from a different perspective. While she is much stronger now, she describes the death of her mother as a pain that never goes away. She recorded “Mkpoyo” in honour of her mum. Her family was going through a lot of pain at the time, and she wanted to reassure them that all was going to be well.

 When her viral single “Spend like Alhaji’ hit the airwaves in 2016, Mairé felt like her time had come, but she faced a lot of issues in her personal life that made her take a break from music to do some soul searching.

“My personal life was chaotic, and pushing my music became tougher. I had to take a break to do some soul searching because I needed it badly.”

 Since then, Mairé has released various singles which have earned her listening ears, although not enough yet, but this has kept her forging ahead. On what sets her apart, Mairé states that there are many facets to her which make her unique and distinct; being a corporate head and a musician comes with its own set of superpowers.

“I’m juggling being a corporate head in the morning. In the night, you might find me in the studio singing my heart out. The summation of both worlds just gives me a different perspective that most artistes don’t have.”

Following her three-year hiatus, Mairé released a song called “vibe” in 2021. Subsequently, she released the feminist–esque anthem “Woman” in anticipation of her upcoming EP “Compound Interest.” While Vibe is “vibey”, as the title suggests, Woman is a more poignant tune. Woman is an appraisal of women. With her sultry and euphonious voice, she speaks about the things women could achieve and praises the women she admires. “Woman, say I be woman. Calling me a woman, say me no fit do what a man can do”

On the EP, whose meaning she described as “Multiplication of Listening Ears”, she has earnestly done the work every budding artiste does—the grinding, the hustle, and burning the midnight oil in the studios. The effect of this hard work will be the multiplication of the number of people listening to her. In summation, Mairé wants to be heard. Compound Interest comprises six tracks, including Vibe and Woman.

 As Mairé explains, the most striking thing about her artistry is her live music. She wants to be known for live music. When she speaks of artistes that she considers great performers and “embodiments” of live music, she speaks in admiration of Beyonce and Burna Boy. It is not farfetched that Mairé admires these great artists, especially Beyonce—she stated she grew up listening to Beyonce from the start of her career and Destiny’s Child defined her childhood. Which has been a great inspiration to her.

 On Burna Boy — “No one is doing it like Burna Boy. You hear him sing live, and you can’t tell how intentional he is about music,” She says. “He is such a great artist and performer, and he inspires me greatly.” She sees music from a holistic point of view and does not take it lightly. She wants to be remembered for her live music.

 Given Mairé’s work over the years, it embodies her everyday life as a woman and an artist, and most especially, it is reminiscent of women’s empowerment and feminism. It comes as a surprise when Mairé says she doesn’t identify as a feminist. “Of course, every woman should be a feminist. I get weary of labels these days. Some People hide under the umbrella of feminism to escape responsibility and consequences. I’m for women’s empowerment and equality. What I won’t do is support you when you’re wrong simply because you’re a woman. “

 Talking about her childhood, she describes it as blissful as she grew up around confident women who didn’t succumb to societal pressures. “I didn’t follow the crowd because of the influence of the women around me, I always felt like I could achieve anything I set my mind to, and I consistently achieved my goals each time. “ In the same vein, Mairé wants to influence women and be known to empower people, but the most important thing to her is to cement her mother’s legacy.

 Originally a native of Oron in Akwa Ibom, Mairé juggles between Abuja and Lagos but lives currently in the latter, the entertainment capital of the country. If Mairé could have a second chance at life, she says she would hang out less with friends in her 20s, a habit that took so much of her time. She also wishes she had taken more opportunities earlier.

 “My routine is very fluid. My process could start from inside my car or on a beach. Wherever the music or inspiration comes, I embrace it” She talks about her creative process. If she could be another celebrity for a day, she’d be Rihanna.” Rihanna is a vibe. It will be a trip to see life from her own perspective. “

Mairé is prepared for super stardom. Time will tell; Soon, she will have your full attention. She is up next!

Tolulope Ebiseni

Written By

Occasional writer, Cinephile and critic.

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