With a view to help African and Chinese people know each other better through music, Nigerian artist Aituaje Iruobe, known professionally as Waje, released her 10-track album Red Velvet in China on May 15, a part of Verse One Distribution's GoAsia campaign.
"People fear what they do not know and sometimes mistreat others because they don't understand them. My music will expose Chinese people to our shared humanity, and as they get to know me, they will love me and my people—the people of Africa," Waje told ChinAfrica.
According to her, the album is named so because of the significance of the color "red" and the smoothness, royalty and elegance of velvet. "It is focused on relationships – romantic relationships, familial relationships, relationship between friends and the relationship with self. It is strongly rooted in love and conflict," she said.
It is this focus of relationships which draws her closer to China and the Chinese market. "Asian music has always been distinct and instantly recognizable. I like to think that my sound is exactly like that," she noted. In her eyes, the Chinese pop scene is also very strong as it has "found a way to infuse pop without losing their originality." This is in line with her own style, she thinks.
Waje describes her music style as "eclectic", a fusion of RnB, Afrobeat and jazz with a huge reliance on horns. She believes that African music in general, and her music in particular, is set to appeal to a range of musical tastes in China and can create new cultural exchange stories.
"Like Chinese music, African music is very rhythmic-each instrument tells its own story, makes you a part of its story and takes you on a different journey. It's also very rich and bold. Music is universal. You don't even need to know the words to connect to the music and mood of the musician," she explained.
Waje was born in Nigeria and grew up in Benin City, Edo State. Using the acronym of "words aren't just enough" as her stage name, she launched her music career in 2007, and in no time got opportunities to perform with popular local and international artists. Waje has won over 20 awards and nominations worldwide and has become one of Africa's most respected and iconic female musicians.