The musician and model Deborah Vanessa Owusu-Bonsu, known in showbiz circles as Sister Derby, has advised her fellow female artistes to work together to attain success in the music industry.
Speaking on Asaase Radio’s Between Hours with Naa Ashorkor, the voice behind “Kakalika Love” said that one way female artistes can achieve success is to avoid feuds and support each other.
“I feel like other women artistes – we shouldn’t be attacking ourselves,” Sister Derby said. “We should rather be fighting for ourselves and we should unite.
“We should be doing collaborations with each other and we should put ourselves out there more.”
She also hinted: “I find some girls, like, let’s say instead of them praising [each other] and going, they will use it to bash another girl. But that doesn’t help you.
“So, I feel like we should collaborate more and we should speak out.”
Sharing her thoughts about how the music industry can offer equal representation, Sister Derby suggested that the industry should give women in music more attention so that they can match up with their male counterparts.
“I feel like the women in the industry need to be given more coverage, more platforms. The female artistes need to be given more concerts that we can headline.
“The concerts need to have more women, or an equal number of women and guys,” she said. “It’s always guys, guys, guys. I feel we should appreciate the women more.”
“They tell me I’m too old”
The African Mermaid, as she is affectionately called, revealed on the show that a common misconception people have about her is her age and the things she does.
According to her, “They tell me I’m too old. They say things like that because our society makes us think that if you are at a certain age, you shouldn’t do certain things.
“It’s just mind control. That’s why I said earlier on if you can’t think for yourself, you are going to listen to what your teacher told you.”
Challenges in the industry
The “Kakalika Love” singer disclosed that another challenge she faces on the music scene is that people seem not to understand her personality and the kind of music she makes.
“The main challenge which I still face has to do with my career,” she said.
“What it is, is that, because my style is different, because I’m very outspoken, I’m straightforward, my music cannot be compared to any of the existing artistes.”
My uncle is Obama
Her track “Uncle Obama”, which was released in 2012, was one of the biggest of Sister Derby’s hits since she has been working as a professional musician.
Describing the framing of the song, she said: “It is not directly about [President Barack Obama].
“But it’s a fact that most of us Africans were happy that a fellow African at that time was the president of the United States, so we were all proud about it.”
Advice to young musicians
Sister Derby advised budding female artists to stay true to themselves and produce original work, rather than adopt the style of some other musician.
“The main thing is to be true to yourself. What I mean is that don’t copy a style that is there because you want the easy way out,” she said.
“It’s like a formula: you know, ‘If I do it this way I will have a hit.’ But maybe that’s not your true style.”
She also urged up-and-coming artists to use social media as a tool to promote themselves.
“Make short videos of yourself singing. Do covers of big songs, global hits. Put it on social media, use all the necessary hashtags, and just keep promoting it, as in sharing it to your friends and family.”
Sister Derby added: “I feel like that is what they should do and just keep going at it. Someone will definitely see them.”