Ann Olay is a very passionate and committed Child of God who believes in the healing, life changing and therapeutic power of music. A worshipper, singer, songwriter with the talent and drive to keep writing songs comings from God’s heart and word. Growing up amongst the vibrant and diverse music scene in Nigeria and the USA, was an environment filled with inspiration for Ann Olay to thrive on. She is always willing and ready to reach souls for Christ, which is her sole life’s purpose. Ann Olay, has now emerged with a 6 tracked EP titled VICTORY. The EP is blessed with fast, mid and slow tempo, praise and worship songs set to help you with your devotion sessions.
- Which did you discover first – your faith or music?
Ann Olay: Both, I was born into a Christian family, and faith and music has always been a part of me.
- When did you start making music seriously?
Ann Olay: I started writing at age 10, but I only sang it to my family and few friends. I decided to start releasing some of my work in July 2020 after I posted one of my songs on Youtube that I recorded with Garageband, and some people had told me to go and record it in the studio, so by December 2020 I released my first single “All My Days”
- What are the major differences between the Nigerian and the USA music scene for you?
Ann Olay: I think when it comes to beats and writing style, while gospel musicians might write using English, a lot of times, you still hear a mix of the local dialects infused into the songs, compared to the USA where it is just pure English songs a lot of the times except You want to take into consideration gospel artists who speak Spanish or French and so on, who try to infuse these languages into their music. There are several Gospel record labels in the USA compared to very few in Nigeria, so Nigeria has a lot of independent Gospel artists. But we have seen great collaborations between USA and Nigerian Gospel Musicians, like “Nothing like Your Presence by William McDowell feat Travis Greene & Nathaniel Bassey”, “Salute by Enkay Ogburuche feat Kierra Sheard”, “Eze Ndi Eze by Frank Edwards feat Don Moen”, “Excess Love By Mercy Chinwo feat JJ
Hairston” and a lot of other collaborations between USA and Nigerian Gospel Artists. I think the awareness of the Nigerian music scene is being felt much more because of this free gospel concert that occurs once a year in Lagos, Nigeria called “The Experience” which has been on since 2006 and attracts a lot of crowds with gospel musicians flown in from around the world.
- Who were your first and strongest musical influences that you can remember?
Ann Olay: Don Moen, Ron Kenoly, Bob Fitts, Cece Winans, Darlene Zschech, Panam Percy Paul, Mary Mary, Micah Stampley, Donnie McClurkin
- If I was to turn on your media player right now, which artists/songs would I be most likely to hear on your recently played list??
Ann Olay: Nathaniel Bassey, Ada Ehi, Mercy Chinwo, Tasha Cobbs, Sinach, Phil Thompson, Frank Edwards, Nosa, Dare David…
- What do you feel are the key elements in your music that should resonate with listeners?
Ann Olay: Beats in my music have some afrocentric feel to it, throw in some new age here and there. I love the harmonies in my music if you really listen, you will become hooked. The melodies in my music sound happy and reverential. I do play with different beats and genres too; it just depends on what is inspiring me at the moment. I am not boxed into any particular genre.
- Could you describe your creative processes? How do you usually start, and go about shaping ideas into a completed song? Do you usually start with a beat, a melody or narrative in your head?
Ann Olay: 99% of my music is birthed in the place of worship, when I just focus on God and worship Him, new songs just drop in my spirit, I keep on singing it while writing it down, and the next thing I know more words are forming until it becomes a complete song. I have only written three songs by playing the piano. Sometimes words just come to me and I write them out then later, I start working on the melody.
- When you create music, what is your personal purpose or goal?
Ann Olay: when people listen to the song, they experience God and get the message being passed across through the song. Whenever someone sends me a message and says, I needed this song, it means the song has accomplished its purpose.
- What has been the most difficult thing you’ve had to endure in your career or life so far, and how did you overcome the event?
Ann Olay: Not getting enough support for my musical journey even though I support others, but I have been exposed to the stories and struggles of other musicians, and have realized that no one owes me anything, it is not their dream, this is my God given dream, and it is up to God and me to see it come to fulfilment.
- On the other hand, what would you consider a successful, proud or significant point in your career so far?
Ann Olay: I would only say that the fact that I still love what I do and I’m still willing to write more songs as God inspires me is a big deal for me, because people told me that it’s hard to get your music to go mainstream and you would get discouraged out of the music scene. Truly it’s not been easy but I’m still grateful for where God is taking me to. Also, Victory got nominated by Maranatha Awards USA for “BEST GOSPEL ALBUM/EP”, The Award ceremony will be in September later this year.
- Do you have a personal favorite track amongst your compositions that has a specific backstory and/or message and meaning very special to you?
Ann Olay: All My Days; My Dad had been in a coma and I was so worried, that’s when this song was dropped into my spirit to reassure me that irrespective of what happens, God know our life’s journey and He is in control. God helped him pull out of the coma.
- With social media having a heavy impact on our lives and the music business in general, how do you handle criticism, haters and/or naysayers in general? Is it something you’ve had to deal with, and do pay attention to it, or do you simply ignore?
Ann Olay: I simply ignore, from everything I have gathered, it means you are doing something right, and if you expend energy on negative talk, it will slow you down and drain you of the energy and focus you need to forge ahead.
- Has your musical journey had a deliberate direction from the start, or did it simply and gradually evolve into where you are now?
Ann Olay: Yes. it has always been deliberate, I always knew when the time was right, I would be writing and ministering in the gospel genre. So I have been watching and studying other gospel ministers.
- If you had a choice to go on tour or collaborate with any acclaimed international artist in the near future, who would you choose, and why?
Ann Olay: Ada Ehi, I love her spirit and energy, her voice too definitely makes any collaboration pop! Darlene Zschech, made me see myself as a gospel minister quite early in life, all the songs she ministered always struck a cord in my heart and it was always with live audiences.
- Could you tell us something about your latest “Victory” EP project, and what fans can expect to hear?
Ann Olay: Victory was supposed to be an album of 10 songs, but my producer still felt some songs needed more work, so I decided to drop an EP instead.
- Victory; Victory was written in May 2020 when covid 19 was still very scary for everyone, I just got this calmness in my spirit that we were coming out of it as victors since Christ had died and paid it all.
- All the Praise; I was tying my scarf in preparation for church and was telling God in my heart that I would sing a new song to Him if He healed someone very dear to my heart, within five minutes I recorded this song on my phone and was planning on singing it with the church choir, but then covid happened, and I ended up recording it instead.
- In times like these; This song was written as a theme song for our church’s women conference in 2019, as I could not find a song online that fit the theme, but then this song still resonates with happenings in our world today.
- Saanu Funmi; written in English, Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa language’s (Nigerian languages) . Choir practice was cancelled in June 2019 but I wasn’t aware, I got to church and saw no one and decided to pray for one hour before I went back home, all I could ask for was mercy, this song was birthed, I took out my phone and recorded it.
- All My Days; My Dad had been in a coma and I was so worried, that’s when this song was dropped into my spirit to reassure me that irrespective of what happens, God know our life’s journey and He is in control.
- I’m in Love; This song was written in February 2019 as I thought about how far God had helped me, I just felt so loved by God. This song has a slow afro beat that would definitely make you dance, as well as love on God.
- Was anyone else involved in writing, recording or producing the songs on “Victory”?
Ann Olay: All the songs on Victory were written by me, recorded by me at home but Produced by the same producer, Victor Tlife of Touching Life Productions.in Ghana, West Africa.
- Creative work in studio environment, or interaction with a live audience? Which of these two options excite you most?
Ann Olay: Live audience any day, at any time! I am privileged to sing with the church choir, so we have a live audience at least once every week, I am so in love with live audiences, it’s a no brainer for me.
- What’s your favorite motto, phrase, or piece of advice, you try to live or inspire yourself by?
Ann Olay: Remain humble, there is nothing you have that was not given to you by God. 1 Corinthians 4:7
- How essential do you think video is in relation to your music? Do you have a favorite video you would suggest fans see, to get a better understanding of your craft?
Ann Olay: Sure. Videos are meant to convey a message or express what the singer is singing about, I love videos a lot, and really work towards having videos with my music though they are quite expensive. All my Days actually is very personal to me, because that song came after my Dad went into a coma and I was so worried, but then God gave me the bible verse “I knew you before you were formed in your mother’s womb Jeremiah 1:5” meaning it doesn’t matter if I’m worried or not, God knows the end of the matter, so that music video tried to depict that phase in my life and the assurance God gave me to help me get through the worry.
- What do you find most rewarding about what you do both as a committed child of God, and a musician? And do you have a specific vision or goal set in your mind that you would like to achieve in the near future?
Ann Olay: I feel at peace knowing I am doing what God has put in me to do for His glory, When people reach out to me telling me I might not know the impact I am having right now, but I should not stop writing and singing about God. As a human I sincerely would love to see my music go global touching lives, but then I know that’s all in God’s hands, all I need to do is keep writing and releasing songs as He gives the inspiration, the rest will fall in place at God’s own time.
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