By Eric Elezuo
Her voice is a combination of velvet and silk; smoother than fine honey. She is Folorunsho Adetayo, better know by her stage name TEE VOCAL. A prolific graduate of Accountancy, and a practising fashion expert, Tee Vocal has taken up to music in her quest to bring the gospel to clearer to soul lifting music. In this brief, she reveals all that make thick and why she is the next thing to happen to music in general. Excerpts:
You are into what kind of gospel music exactly
I do African contemporary.
Can you just define what it is, for the benefit of those who don’t know?
Ok, it’s just bringing in African blend into gospel and creating your own unique style out of it.
How long have you been into this?
Officially, I will say since 2010. That’s when I went professional. I started music back in the days in the children choir. Gradually, I graduated from that setting, and through constant mentoring, the fire kept burning, and I am where I am today.
So, in eight years of professional practice, how many albums and singles are there to your credit?
Well, I have just one single and an album of 6 tracks. I released the single on September 20 this year.
So, what have you been doing in the eight years you went professional?
(laughter) You don’t just rush into the music market or into entertainment. This is because, music is entertainment. One has to be careful in the first place. I kept learning, and moved with people who can support my ministry and place me on the right track with productive advice. Today, I am completely endowed to give out the best of gospel music and performances.
So were you actually collaborating with others or singing back up for established musicians?
The likes of Tope Alabi, Mike Abdul, Tosin Bee and many others.
What was the inspiration for going into gospel kind of music instead of the contemporary hip hop?
Gospel on its own has a brand and that brand is Jesus. So, if you are a child of God and you are called by Him, you should know that everything about you should speak of the Jesus you carry. I prefer going for gospel because that is the medium through which I can pass message to the world.
So, what advise do you have for any upcoming artiste?
Just stay focused, know what you are doing and know who you are. Not just knowing who you are, on a personal basis, but knowing who you are in Christ determines how far you will go. And Jesus being your feather gives you a move to fly higher and farther. So, you have to keep focused on Him and know what you are doing, and also be obedient.
Before we get back to your professional life, let’s talk about your background.
I’m from Abeokuta in Ogun state. I am a graduate of Accounting from the Lagos State Polytechnic. I finished in 2015. I’m also into the fashion industry and by God’s grace, I own a fashion house.
Fashion designing, on a professional level?
What is the connection between the fashion and the music world? Are they things that go hand in glove or just jettison one?
Of course they go hand in hand. You cannot be a gospel artiste and not look good. Fashion is just a general word for looking good and presentable.
How do you manage being an Accountant, Musician and Designer at the same time?
Actually, I was thinking back then, how am I going into three different professions at the same time? Sincerely, all the way God has been there. And it has been very interesting being a fashionista, a gospel artiste and an accountant.
Going into gospel singing, I know it is motivated by being a born again or a child of God like you said, but do you want to just propagate the gospel of Christ or combine it with making money as well?
I think money is necessary because even the Bible says that money is important in anybody’s life and being an artiste, it is just not about money. Money is not just the priority. Jesus being the message is the priority and money follows. In truth, money is the engine of ministry. Without money, you have some limited space to cover. So, we are balancing the equation.
Doesn’t it bother you that choosing gospel will rub the luxury and lavish lifestyle associated by contemporary music artistes enjoy?
It is not about the “show and blow”. Like I said, Jesus should be at centre of message of your calling. You will make money because He is the supplier of those that diligently seek Him. So, if you obey God and follow His footprints, as well as stay dedicated to the mandate He has given to you, you will definitely make money.
So, where have you performed before?
In diverse places I cannot even begin to make mention, such as churches, business organisations and many others. It’s God anyways. It has been very awesome.
What was your growing up like? Were you one of those that were born with a silver spoon?
(Laughter) let me not say silver or golden spoon anyway. But I will call my family a well-to-do, intellectual family. At least we were good, you have whatever you want, education, you have things to do aside your profession. That’s how I was trained. Everyone in my family went to school; you have to learn, go into entrepreneurship. Even mine was just a collaboration with my calling, which is music.
So, it was a comfortable childhood?
So, what turns you on/off as a human being?
I love the people around me to be faithful, and committed to their work. When you are faithful, those working around you will know who you are for real.
So, where do you see yourself in the next couple of years?
I see myself breaking new grounds. I call myself a global ambassador; I’m a global ambassador. Being an artiste, I mean, I’m for everyone; I’m for the universe. The mandate also says “go into the world and preach to all nations”, so it’s not just Nigeria, as my country, it’s about the world. So, I see myself as a global ambassador featuring in all aspects of life, doing well and doing good.
Of course you have made projections for your life, so where are these projections taking you to in the next couple of years?
Hmm, it’s taking me very far; very, very far. As far as the heavens will permit.
Do we hope to hear Tee Vocal as loud as we hear Davido in the next five years?
By His Grace.
His grace is already available, so what do you think?
I think in the longevity of the grace, if you remain In Christ and Christ in you, you should know that it’s for an eternity until Jesus comes. So I see myself like my mentor, Bola Are. She’s a woman who I celebrate the grace of God in her. She’s over 80 and she’s still waxing stronger in Christ. I see myself there, doing great things.
Have you bothered to know what spurs Bola Are?
Sure. I have been able to move closer to her.
Tope Alabi is also your mentor. There was a time when she was, in my word, credited with a scandal. Were you aware?
Sure, but I wouldn’t like to talk about.
Personally, if I put food on the table for you, what would you choose as your best food?
My best food? I think I love porridge.
Which, specifically is your favourite?
Single or married?
When marriage comes, will Tee Vocal have to be put aside?
No. Everything goes hand in hand. And again, immediately you get married, number one assignment is your home
That means Tee Vocal will have to wait a while as Folorunsho takes over
No. They don’t affect each other. Everything is going to be booming and that’s when I’m expecting Tee Vocal to go farer
Does it mean that Folorunsho will still remain in the background?
(laughter) Folorunsho is me and Tee Vocal is me as well.
What kind of man are you looking forward to having as a husband?
Actually, I wouldn’t want to choose for myself. I’ve been praying that God would choose for me. Actually, I want a visionaire, a man who would support my ministry, a God-fearing man, a man with so much humility.
Apart from your music calling and fashion designing, do you have any other personal gifts or talents you harness on the side?
I am minister of God, I preach.
Any extra or co-curricular?
I love sports. I play Volleyball.
Do you intend having a music institution or mentor the younger ones someday?
Sure. I believe that if you live a life which others cannot step into, then you have not started. I sure look forward to mentoring others. Even presently, I have mentees from far and near. To the glory of God, I am an inspiration to them just as some others have been to me. So, in the nearest future, I’m looking forward to having something like that.
Between fashion and music, which one would you say has really made you the person you are today, in fame, wealth and otherwise?
(laughter) I would say both. Tee Vocal is a musical brand and I love seeing people happy and that makes me happy.
I’ve been privileged to listen to one of your songs and I notice it is a blend of Yoruba and English. Why is that so?
Well, that’s how the song came. I feel it is pure divine inspiration.
Your songs are more on the emotional side. Do you do gospel dancehall too?
Yes, I do. I’m a praise singer. By God’s grace, I plan to release about four praise songs, back to back.
Thank you Tee Vocal for your time.
Thank you and God bless you.