The rise of Stonebwoy to prominence has proven that tough times don’t last; tough people do. Growing up, the Ghanaian singer dancehall and reggae singer experienced less of the good side of life and more of the bad and ugly. At 13, he was involved in a ghastly accident which many thought would be the end for a precocious lad destined for the top.
“Personally, growing up I had to deal with a big challenge after suffering a big injury in a car accident,” he had said in 2020 interview.
But Stonebwoy, whose real name is Livingstone Etse Satekla, didn’t give up on his dreams. Rather, the challenges became his biggest inspiration to strive for greatness.
From relative obscurity, the ‘Activate’ singer has established himself as a household name in Africa and the global music landscape with several hit projects, awards, and recognition.
In this interview with TheCable Lifestyle, he talks about ‘Blessing‘, his first single of the year, the 2019 face-off with Shatta Wale and experience working with Nigerian artistes.
You had a tough childhood including having a serious car accident at the age of 13. How was it like for you to start life on such a seemingly hard note?
To me, coming out amongst the millions of sperms to become a fetus is hard. So, basically life is not easy as it may be. Mine could never be the worse but just the right level of hardship that I needed to get here today. Mind you, the struggle continues…”aluta continua”.
Would you say the experience shaped your passion to succeed?
Exactly. My story is surely the fuel behind my passion, determination, and resilience to break the chains and the norms and push the envelop.
What is music to you and what inspired your career?
Music is life indeed. Music is a spiritual calling through which the message of life is communicated and received. Proof of reception is the various emotions we feel when the music hits us. My career is a calling inspired by divine, inspired by life.
You came into the spotlight after ‘Climax’ and ‘Ghetto’ were released in 2012. How have you managed to remain relevant ever since?
Consistency is key. Pushing hard to deliver my musical message among a million messengers to the world’s audience requires consistency and creativity. I and my team, as an independent artiste and owner of my label, also invest right into the art and craft to keep it going, and so far so great. I’m not stopping at any red light because greatness is ahead.
In 2019, you had a face-off with Shatta Wale during the Vodafone Ghana Music Awards. How has it been between the two of you since then?
I look back and see that as one phase of the journey. We have been able to move on well to this point, being that what happened in other terms was supposed to have had a very huge backset on the career but it turned otherwise. Shatta and I have been good since, focusing on putting Ghana on the map and Africa to a large extent.
Looking at the music industry in Africa, it’s not uncommon to see fans comparing their favourites with others, sometimes in an aggressive manner. Do you think this is a good development?
That form of comparison exists in real life also amongst one another. So it’s normal for the fans to behave in that manner but it becomes a task for the torchbearers like us to redirect such energies into healthy competitions in order to grow oneself and the industry otherwise. [Otherwise], we will just be like crabs in a barrel.
We have continued to witness an increasing synergy between Ghanaian and Nigerian musicians. What do you make of the development?
West Africans have a deeper history that still finds its way to grow amongst us. Whether we love to hate each other or hate to love each other. The synergy though between Ghana and Nigeria is putting Africa on the global stage with its entertainment and arts. So, I think this development is important for the growth and progress of our African music industry.
You featured Davido on ‘Activate’, your 2020 hit song. How did you and Davido get along as well as getting him to feature on the project?
Davido and I connected some years ago via social media and had stayed in touch often. Then once upon his numerous visits to Ghana, we connected finally and created magic that has activated the world.
You have also worked with Burna Boy. How would you describe him and the collaboration?
Burna boy is one of the earliest relationships that I had with a fellow Nigerian artiste. We went along so well and recorded some amazing songs too, which I’m looking to re-releasing because with the right attention, the world will equally enjoy them. I believe we are very cool though we seldom communicate due to very very very tight schedules which is well understandable.
Generally, what has it been like working with Nigerian artistes?
It’s been great working with every single Nigerian fellow. Africa and beyond has always been the motive for every ordained creative except you don’t believe in yourself.
You have been an advocate of an ‘African Grammy’. What do you actually mean by this concept?
It’s simple, just like there’s the Latin Grammy. Africa is very huge with so much going on here for just a category at the Grammys. However, that’s expected because it’s not really meant to serve African creatives. That’s why we have the African Muzik Magazine Awards (AFRIMMA) which I consider as our own. We just need to empower it more and more.
Africa is at a critical point with corruption, poverty, and bad leadership considered as major challenges; how do you think artistes like yourself and others with huge fan bases can help change the situation?
Simply, we have to get involved in the education and the information process so as to enlighten the African majority. Once we conscientise one another, we shall be able to stand against all these. We have to use our music and following as a tool.
‘Blessing’, your first single of 2021, was released on Friday. Tell us more about the song.
This song is a mid-tempo JAM featuring American/Ghanaian Artiste Vic Mensah. It’s a song that speaks faith in receiving blessings. It’s produced by legendary KAYWA in Ghana and shot by Denzel Williams in New York City.
What are the issues you seek to address with the song?
Encourage people to speak blessings in their lives and work towards it because the things I spoke in the song, I had actually been blessed with. It came to pass even before the release of the song.
What should fans be expecting from you this year?
Many more big singles and maybe an album, an African/world tour and concerts. One love.
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