JacanaBooks met Riwo Egor at the Citadel Internation Church a couple of days ago. She was performing for Rejoice Alberta 2018. She had just sung and performed her single'You Remain The Same'. We saw her perform again last night with MelAfrique at Titilope Sonuga's Poetry and Jazz concert titled 'Open'. One thing is very clear, Riwo is one to watch out for. It was her who got the crowd on their feet as she serenaded us with the magic her vocal cords produced. It was her, who last year, won the Rejoice Alberta Musical competition. JacanaBooks is very humbled to have the opportunity to get to know Riwo better. We hope you enjoy reading the interview and you support what we are doing here by sharing this article:)
JacanaBooks: For those who do not know you, please can you tell our readers who you are, how you got into music, what inspires your music, why you are so passionate about music and why we need to hear your sound?
My name is Riwo Egor. I am originally from Delta State, Nigeria. I was raised in Port Harcourt (also in Nigeria). I am currently a student at the University of Alberta. I moved to Edmonton in 2015 and co-started a band called MelAfrique the following year. I think it would be fair to say that I was born into music. My family is filled with music lovers. My parents, in particular, were both in the choir before I was born, and they were also into various genres of music. So, I definitely grew up listening to different kinds of songs.
I soon fell in love with the likes of Whitney Houston, Lionel Richie, Dolly Parton, Kirk Franklin and as I grew older I discovered some other greats like Jill Scott, Jennifer Hudson. I was also taken by some amazing Nigerian artists like Asa, Omawumi, Cobhams Asuquo; I still am. I think being exposed to all these diverse sounds, just naturally moved me to create my own, and I started to write and develop my own style which, to be honest, has morphed over the years.
With my music, my goal is to speak my truth, because you never know who's listening, you never know who's going through a similar situation as you are, and so sharing my story and experiences is important to me. I think there is something vulnerable and yet so beautiful about sending a message through music. Music helps me voice things I might be too afraid to say or too scared to be judged about, and that to me is the beauty about it.
I find that it is such a universal language, it is such a unique way of communicating with the world, and this is why I do music, in the way that I do it. I am all for reaching out to as many as possible with my music, and that means I don't want to leave anyone out! I bring a lot of my background and personality into my work, and I like do so in a way that anyone and everyone can be involved if possible in a way that everyone is welcome to interact with and relate to what I'm singing about if they can. So when you listen to my lyrics, you'll find me expressing a lot of different things, and I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to do that.
JacanaBooks: You won the Rejoice Alberta Prize last year. Congratulations! How has that been like for you? Did it open new doors?
It was such a pleasure and an honour.
It was and still is an exciting journey and I have learned so much from it-I'm still learning every day. It definitely gave me exposure in the gospel community in Edmonton. It has been so cool to get the phone calls and performance opportunities. I am just super grateful! I also got the opportunity to record a Single (which I just released) as part of my win, and the whole process has been joyful.
JacanaBooks: That is fantastic! You are also in the band MelAfrique. Can you tell us what that journey has been like? Are you the lead singer with MelAfrique? What is the story behind the band?
Yes, I am the lead singer of MelAfrique. I must say it has been nothing short of AWESOME. The band was formed in 2016, but before that, it was just three of us that had been performing together: myself, Leshan (the bassist) and Aristotle (the keyboardist). We expanded into a full band around September of 2016, in order to compete in YEG Music's 1st season of 'Compete with the Beat', which we won.
After that competition, the opportunities just kept coming and coming, and I am so grateful because we have been opportuned to play with so many amazing talents in Edmonton, and at so many incredible events-from small bars to huge festivals. It's just been a blessing. I mean, we've had our highs and lows in the two years we've been active but the highs have been so pleasantly overwhelming, and I am very excited for our future as a group!
Leshan had the vision for the band, even before the competition, and the name just came to me. I like to say it was divinely inspired. MelAfrique means Melanin from Africa and our goal when we started was to create awareness through music about the African continent, both the good and the bad-unlike the one-sided view of the media. And that hasn't really changed for us. We have just grown so much on this journey and our goal right now and for the future is to express our truths through good music, and showcase our identity as Africans and everything else that we each are. The group is made up of myself, Adanna Onuekwusi-both vocalists, Leshan Masikonte, Aristotle Jorge Canga and the extraordinary Enoch Attey, on the guitar. It is such an honour to be part of such a diverse and amazingly talented group of individuals.
JacanaBooks: You have recently released your first E.P. What was that journey like? Where can we get it?
Yeah, I just released my first single, 'You Remain The Same'. You can find it on all online platforms, so: Spotify, Amazon, Google Play/YouTube, Deezer, SoundCloud and it will be on others real soon too (Apple Music, iTunes, Pandora, Tidal, iHeart Radio, Napster, MediaNet).
JacanaBooks: What next for you?
To keep creating, with MelAfrique, and by myself as well. I am going to keep showcasing this God-given gift, so be on the watch for Riwo and for MelAfrique because we have a lot more music and content coming your way!
Listen here to MelAfrique play "The 55" live on the Northern Sessions. They are the sound of the future.