There are so many inspiring beautiful black women around the globe that not only possess the finesse to empower, but the strength to build confidence and courage within us all. We love highlighting ladies from around the world that display talent, beauty and brains. This month for our Beautiful Black Women series we had the honor of interviewing African entertainer, Tonia Shodunke. Enjoy!
1) Tonia Shodunke thank you for being apart of our Beautiful Black Women series! Please tell us, have you always loved to sing?
First of all, I would like to thank you specially for the privilege of having me on this platform.
Have I always loved to sing? [Chuckles] Always, always!! Singing for me has always been a deep seated passion and I do it with delight, everywhere and anywhere. Everything about me is music! I fondly tell myself and everyone who cares to listen that: “Music is my therapy. Melodies, my legacy. Writing my passion. I live to worship. With or without the stage.”
2) Whom or what inspired you to be a singer professionally?
Well, I love music and while growing up, music filtered through every available medium, it was simply contagious. So that kindled in me the passion and by the time I came across a book titled, ‘Extravagant Worship’ by Darlene Zschech’ that passion became fanned into reality. Listening to several albums by Gospel Minister Sinach and having to score these songs and lead the choir in them, also helped sharpen that drive to be a blessing to the entire world in the field of music.
3) Do you ever get nervous performing?
Lol… nervous? Yea, kind of, in the formative stages. Maybe I will rather call it a slight eagerness to ‘deliver’ maximally, nothing but the optimum of what’s expected. But only born out of a sincere desire to give nothing but the best. The more we grow and the more we do what we do; we get better and overcome so many traits. So that’s been taken care of. [Gives Broad Smile].
4) For any little girl who wants to follow in your footsteps, what advice would you give her?
Well, to that little girl, I would say; follow God, follow your heart, follow your passion. Follow God because He’s our source and our perfect example of excellence as we all pursue perfection.
i) Follow your heart and passion, because once the passion to do this has taken root in you, you need to follow it’s path. Situations will always come to knock you off and prove your determination. But never give up, for it takes resilience and in-depth conviction to stand your ground.
ii) The purpose of a thing is always important. Be real and down to earth with yourself, “Why do you want to do this?” If your focus is to add value to life, to humanity, to the world at large, then you will get value in return for every effort, but if not; you may fizzle out at some point.
iii) Every performer is a “Type.” You need to understand that you are a “product”, unique in all its entirety. By understanding your ‘type’, you will save yourself from rejection and performing short of your potentials. Be versatile and find your place and when you do, be confident in who you are. We are all on a self discovery process, which is key to success on this path.
iv) Mentors… a MUST! To make it far, you need mentors who have gone far on this same track, and who can be brutally honest with you and help you find your material. Find mentors with a foot in the musical arena and learn from them how things are done; but don’t expect them to set goals for you, that you must do yourself.
v) Practice, Practice and Practice! Keep working and developing yourself.
5) What has been your favorite moment thus far in your career?
To tell you the truth, I have had some very wonderful moments on stage doing what I love to do best; amazing moments fraternizing with great people whom I’ve always loved to meet. Awesome moments when people give reports on how they have been blessed, encouraged and inspired by my music and brand; all these moments, so rewarding and fulfilling. My favorite, however, has been the countless opportunities to put smiles on the faces of people, who necessarily, can not reciprocate. One of such outstanding moments for me, was while celebrating my birthday last year 18th of April, with kids from a disabled home in Uganda. I know it’s one of our obligations to constantly reach out to the needy around us, but what thrilled me most was the evident ‘feel-able’ and ‘touchable ‘joy that day. The lady in charge, confessed she. Had never seen them that happy before, even with visits from other individuals. I had the opportunity to perform one of my songs with them and we had fun dancing round.
It was touching seeing kids who were blind, but could hear, dancing and leaping for joy; kids who were deaf, dancing all the same, even though they could not hear the song playing. The crippled were not left out along with the deaf and dumb. In fact, my heart melted when this particular set came forward with their hands together (just like Indians do) as their own way of saying “thank you”, since they couldn’t voice it out….. SO touching!
It was a kids celebrity party, because that’s exactly who they are. [Reflective Smile].
6) You’re very beautiful and have great fashion style. What do you like to wear?
#BroadSmiles…. thanks for that compliment. #EyesRolling… lol!
I LOVE colours, for one! I love to play around with colours; I like to create something elegant out of the most simple attires. I’ve worked closely with several people who didn’t care how they looked; and over time working with them, I’ve seen them pick up and change drastically; even without saying nothing to them about it. [Smiles]
I know I may not be the best out there, but in my territory, I’m the Queen and I call the shots! Lol #JustKidding. I tell people, that fashion is a thing of the mind, and not so much as, how expensive. It’s all about how comfortable you are at being you in the clothes and ultimately, how you carry yourself. Everyone can be fashionable only if you love you and believe in you… that’s my take! I’m African and I love to portray that in anyway possible, because Africa is beautiful.
I tell myself I’m an endowment of God’s beauty. An ornament of His radiance. Endorsed to showcase His beauty. Branded because in His resemblance, I’m made.
That’s me… Proudly African…. [lol]!
7) For 2016, what goal or goals will you like to achieve?
Hmmmmnn… I feel like I’ve talked too much already; so I’ll be brief.
By God’s grace, there’s a global impact I’m driving at and I see it materializing already. An integration push for African Acts across the globe.
I have plans of visuals for some of the singles I have as well as collaborations with great men and women in the industry. While pushing to excellence my writing skills, as I impact the world positively with every gift and every virtue I carry. I guess I would rest my case here for now, but trust me; there’s so much more! Thank you once again and God bless you, for having me!!
Thoughts on our Beautiful Black Women interview with the extraordinary Tonia Shodunke? Join the discussion by leaving a comment down low or hit us up on our Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr or tweet us @1966magazine.