Yasmeen Helwani, the astounding vocalist, delighted the audience at Republic Bar and Grill to some eclectic live band music. She performed tracks off her new album titled “The Music Messenger” and covers of other tunes.
TRB: Good to have you sharing your music with us. How did you get into music?
Y.H: Thank you for having me. I was actually born into music, my father was a celebrated music producer, the late Faisal Helwani he produced many artists in his time including the legendary Fela Kuti. I was born with a great voice which my Dad started nurturing at an early stage.
I started singing at nine and composed my first song when I was 12 years old. I also recorded my first album when I was 16 years and I haven’t looked back since then.
TRB: Did you feel pressured at any point of your life to do music, being born into a music family?
Y.H: No, the pressure was rather on my father because I would say he was blessed with a daughter who has singing abilities so he had the daunting task of molding her into a great musician. On the other hand, he is challenged to be the responsible father protecting his daughter. I loved music from day one and so he helped me nurture my talent.
TRB: Who and what do you draw your inspiration from?
Y.H: There are many artists I looked up to growing up. I paid attention to their vocal abilities and how I could improve mine. I also listened to Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey and usually sample from other musician’s work. I’m also influenced by diverse styles of music, some of which I showed in tonight’s performance.
TRB: How different is your new album from the previous one?
Y.H: It is really different. This is my fourth album but it is truly my first album in the sense that the albums preceding this one were my learning phase. Moreover, when I started out making music I had family members as my management.
After the third album things changed drastically in my life, losing my brother Waleed and my father as well, they were my musical backbone, at the time it would have seemed like a nightmare but it actually spiraled me into an all new state of being in music, I began to look inside myself and become a lot independent.
I mentioned during my performance that it took me a long time to come out with this album. When I first started I released an album every other year. But it was different for this album I had to go silent for a while to deal with all the craziness in my life.
During this break I got into business to establish myself since my father who was my rock was no more and it took me a while to build my business. I started earning money to support myself and produce my own album. So this ‘Music Messenger’ is my first self-produced and self-financed album and I am very proud of it because it represents my emancipation and growth in becoming an artist.
TRB: What kind of relationship did you have with Charter House?
Y.H: I had a professional relationship with Charter house around 2003/2004 when I returned home to Ghana from Canada where I was studying for a business degree. I felt to become an independent artist I needed to work on myself behind the scenes so I joined them to work on events and later on moved to handling advertising accounts.
TRB: How are you able to balance life as being a mother, wife, musician and an entrepreneur?
Y.H: (laughing) It is crazy, but it is fun at the same time because everything single thing I do I love, and that is my philosophy in life “I don’t do things I don’t love”. So it is the love that keeps me going, the love for everything around me, love for my family, the love for my job and love for my music, I keep everything in a good balance.
In terms of showbiz, I don’t perform on every stage and I am not out at events often. I don’t stay out late but once in a while I perform at shows and make sure to give my best. I love coming back to play here at Republic Bar and Grill.
TRB: Can you tell us your experience as a female bi-racial musician in Ghana?
Y.H: Bi-racial people face numerous issues-if you happen to come from different backgrounds it is difficult to identify with a particular race because you never really belong and a lot of bi-racial people suffer from that dearth of belonging. When you live abroad you are seen as African or “black” at the same time but when you return home you get tagged as “obroni” (white person) so you get stuck in between.
The thing is, as an individual you need to see beyond all that and I feel like spiritual evolution brings you to a point in your life where you begin to look beyond color and ability but rather to correct and forgive people who discriminate against you racially. For me the whole journey in life is to give people perspective. There is beauty in being different, even though it might hurt but you just need to look at the brighter side of things.
TRB: Lastly, what should the world expect from “Yasmeen The Voice” in the years to come?
Y.H: In the coming years I see myself taking Ghanaian music to the world. I intend to go on tour, release more albums, enjoy life, and making music to share with the world.
Also, I started a project last year under my late father’s record label called “Bibini Music (black music)” which is a music festival themed Mother Earth Festival at “Asaase Yaa (Mother of the earth) located at Kokrobite beach. It is create to raise awareness about environmental issues, safeguarding our environment and cultivating an eco-friendly lifestyle.
Last year we had a great edition, it is scheduled to take place again on the 26th & 27th of August 2017 and I would be headlining it this year.
Everyone is welcome to share in this great time and spread positive vibes. Blakk Rasta, Osagyefo and Shasha Marley would be performing live at the event.