Rukayat Gawat: My mission as an Islamic musician

Rukayat Gawat: My mission as an Islamic musician

Regarded as one of the leading Islamic musicians in Nigeria, Rukayat Gawat, is a woman of substance who is passionate about women’s responsibilities in a home which she often makes obvious in her music. She speaks with ADENIYI ADEWOYIN in this interview. Excerpts:

You’ve been singing for a while now; what is the journey so far?

It has not been easy. The journey has been tough. Though when we are into something and expecting to get results which are not forthcoming, we say it is somehow difficult and say all sorts of things. By the time you get through it and try to channel your energy into it with commitment, everything will be fine.

How long have you been doing music?

I have been singing for 20 years now. Allah has been faithful to me, my career, my family and the entire Islamic family worldwide.

How old were you when you started music?

I started singing at a very tender age. I started composing songs when I was 17. It was a very defining moment for me and I still treasure the time.

Why did you choose to be a musician?

I didn’t choose to be a musician; music actually found me. I grew up with a strong passion for music. I love my religion and I felt the best way to contribute my own quota to the propagation of Islam is through music, and when I realized I could sing, I jumped at the opportunity.

Can you tell us about your music career?

To be honest, I didn’t know I could ever be where I am now. Though I have the passion for music, I didn’t know that Allah could actually make a star out of me and make my songs acceptable. My career started a long time ago, but God made me prominent just about three years ago when I produced ‘Ogbe Okan’. To be adjudged as the best female Islamic artiste by two prominent and highly-respected media houses is remarkable. I will forever be grateful to Allah for what He has done concerning my life and my career.

What project are you working on now?

I am currently working on my new album titled ‘Araba’. It is a three-track album which will be released in 2019.I am also working on the release of my singles. My yearly charity project, handled by The Imole Foundation which I started in 2015, is also coming up soon. The name, Imole, is my stage name.

The foundation helped a huge number of widows who attended the inaugural edition. They were over 120 in number and they all received food items and other gifts. Whenever I want to do any event, I do it to remember my father. During this event, I give widows food and other items. The coming event may have a large turn-out of widows and the less privileged in our society.

What is your new album about?

‘Araba’ is an album I dedicated to the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a man who has been very nice to the people, my family and Lagos State entirely. He is a good man and I just want to celebrate him and extol his virtues, talking about who he is to me and some other people around me. Asiwaju is a father to me and many other people in Lagos and Nigeria generally. He was there for me when my father went missing.

Can you tell us specifically why you are celebrating Tinubu

Asiwaju deserves it and more. He is a father of many children. He has done much for this country; he has done much for the hopeless in different homes.

Why are your songs targeted at women?

In most of my songs, I talk about homes and I advise women because I know what it takes to keep a peaceful home. It is very challenging. I have been married for over nine years now and it has not been easy. We just have to live in peace. According to Islam, it is not proper for a woman to live alone. All these are happening in our society, and I am using my songs to educate women.

What is the importance of music in Islam?

If you move closer to some Islamic clerics, they will tell you that there is nothing like music in Islam. But for me, I believe that music is very important in life. Music changes moods. It is a tool to enlighten people. The only thing I feel some people have against some Islamic musicians is the fact that they do not dress properly and that doesn’t add value to the religion.

Would you describe music as a tool?

Music is a tool to shape opinions and pass messages as journalists do. Music is life; music is anything you can think of it; music is everything. Although I am a very shy person, once I grab the microphone, everything seems to be different. I can say that the microphone gives me boldness and music boosts my confidence.

What is the secret of your success? 

It is hard work and commitment to what gives me joy. Another major thing that I believe is that people love me because of my father’s story. I mean everyone who loved my dad during his lifetime has transferred the love to me. Second, the Yoruba appreciate well-mannered people. Having a good father is wonderful. He contributed so much to me, and that is the secret of my success. Whenever people meet me, they see Islam in me, testifying to the life of a role model that I live.

Do you have any featured song or are you intending to do any collaboration?

Yes! I have recorded so many featured tracks with notable Islamic singers and fuji artistes like Malaika in “Alao jowujowu ”, Sefiu Alao in “Odun Ayo” and Taye Currency in a song that is yet to be released. But for now, I am trying to see if I can integrate the hip-hop artistes with the religious ones to pass across a message that cannot be rejected because my dream for Islamic music is to be accepted by all.

What are your plans to make all people accept Islamic music?

Since my going into Islamic music, I have been trying, in my own little way, to bring about innovations. That is why I have been projecting the Islamic music through my own dynamism and originality to export the music to  other genres of music. It should be on record that I did collaborations with some major fuji artistes and they are now calling back for more cooperation from Islamic singers. For my productions, I do a sound and explicit work that will stand the test of time and I am open for collaborations.

What do you want improved in Islamic music videos?

As an Islamic musician, we do not earn enough to pay for a good video production. I want to lay a standard for the Islamic musicians to emulate, using quality costumes and locations.

As an Islamic singer and a role model, what are the things you detest?

I restrict myself from attending indecent events, parties and clubs. The way I dress or speak or look is always religious and cultured. Bleaching is another thing I will not attempt because my fans deserve a responsible me.

What does Rukayat do outside music?

I am a housewife, a mother and an entrepreneur. I also do buying and selling of goods.

With many awards and recognitions trailing you, are they reflective of your good works?

Yes, they are merited honours. My works are visible and acceptable to many. My achievements are through hard work and resilience.

Did you ever plan for this level of success?

Of course, yes, but I didn’t know that God would make me widely accepted in the industry so soon. Meanwhile, awards, to me, are like propellers, making me to work harder to satisfy God and my teeming fans.

What gives you the edge in the industry?

I don’t really know about this, but my works and consistency could be working for me.

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