The Queen of Hearts Returns – An Interview with Tonye

Tonye, wearing a cream, rimmed hat and long braids

There’s nothing more exciting for a music lover than your favourite artist coming back from a two year hiatus. So for Tonye fans, it’s a pretty big day.

Since announcing on Instagram that her next release was coming this week, Tonye’s followers have been showering her post with love, thrilled that the singer-songwriter is finally back.

Tonye first burst onto the Nigerian music scene in 2013, moving from her corporate job in the States to Lagos to pursue a music career and share the singing talent she had once tried to hide.

And she was making waves. Her 2014 single Criminal and the follow up remix featuring Timaya owned the Nigerian airwaves. The following year, she received a nomination for “Most Promising Act” at the 2015 Nigeria Entertainment Awards.

But is was Tonye’s 2015 single Ari Belema which put her on the map, earning her the monikers ‘the Ari Belema crooner’ and ‘The Queen of Hearts’.

Since 2017 Tonye has taken some time out, fueling rumours that the breakout Afropop artist had left the industry for good. But it looks like her break will mark the start of a new chapter rather than the end of an era.

With her comeback release out today and a debut EP on the horizon, we spoke to Tonye about leaving the corporate 9 to 5, her love for fashion and growing up across three continents.

First of all, we have to know: what are you dropping today?

Today, I am dropping my first single “WELLU” off my Upcoming EP titled “THE JOURNEY”.

In previous interviews you’ve mentioned that you were a shy child. What pushed you to stop hiding your talent and start sharing your gift?

I never knew I could sing until my second grade teacher chose me over another student to sing lead in our school play. I was really overwhelmed after my performance. It felt so good seeing everyone’s reaction.

Leaving your full time job to pursue your music career must have been a nerve-wracking decision for you?

Yes, it was definitely a nerve racking decision, knowing that I was leaving my 9 – 5 to pursue what I truly love. At the end of the day, I’m happy that I can dedicate my time and energy to my passion which has its own rewards.

You’re also known for your sense of style as well as your music. Has fashion always been an interest of yours?

Absolutely. I’ve always loved Fashion. I actually studied Fashion Merchandising in College.  Growing up in Paris, my mother was my biggest fashion role model. I always admired how classy and elegant she was.

You’ve lived in a lot of different places – Nigeria, France and the US. How has that affected your music and your outlook?

I believe Music is a Universal language. Living in many countries exposed me to so many different cultures and different people which was a huge inspiration for my songs.

What was it like being nominated as “Most Promising Act at the Nigeria Entertainment Awards so early in your career?

It was bananas!!! It was such an honor because I was not expecting it at all. I felt so blessed to be nominated alongside so many amazing artists in Africa.

Do you have anything planned for next year?

Yes, I do have major plans. I have some really dope collaborations I’m working on. I also spent this year exploring the Caribbean market and I have connected with a team there. So look forward to a different side of TONYE GARRICK.

Wellu is out now.