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Entertainment of Saturday, 10 October 2015

Source: Daily Guide

The Evolution of Yasmeen

Yasmeen Helwani Yasmeen Helwani

Yasmeen has come a long way from just being the daughter of legendary music producer Faisal Helwani. Over the years, she has proved to be one of the most talented artistes Ghana has ever produced. Her voice is really nothing short of ‘golden’, and her soul-penetrating lyrics have cemented her as a super-talented songwriter. I recently caught her live, spell-binding performance, where she put the audience in a kind of trance as they were captivated by this extremely soulful songstress. I had to catch up with her to find out more.

You were obviously born into music, but at what point did you decide to make it a career?

Yasmeen: Being born into a musical family made the art come naturally to me. You can say I was born a natural performer. At the age of nine, my dad had me working in the studio with some instrumentalists who helped me with my singing and songwriting. I started writing music when I was 12, and recorded my first album at 16! I still didn’t take it as a full time career, even at that point. I went to school to get my degree. It was after that when I decided to go seriously into music.

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced in your career so far?

Yasmeen: This is a difficult question to answer because I’ve faced quite a lot of challenges. Where do I even begin? (laughs) One of the biggest challenges was losing my father and transitioning to my own identity. My dad was always a protective source of security. It took a long time for me to transform and evolve as a person and as an artiste. I had to move from the brand that my dad and I had used for so long. It’s a new era own and a new me. I’ve had some tough times trying to creatively position myself and remain true to my art. It has been important for me not to ‘sell out’ and go on the wrong path that would not benefit me as an artiste. I’ve had to stand strong and firm to make very serious decisions in order to maintain my image as well as the class that is associated with me and my music. It was very difficult not having my dad to guide me. Lately, the challenges are not too many because making the right decisions in the past have paid off. My talent has spoken for itself. I’m just exploring different genre of music, and even producing. I’m having a great time!

What would you say are some of the most memorable moments of your career so far?

Yasmeen: It was great to be part of Felabration with Wanlov and some others. We performed at The Shrine in Lagos. That was an awesome experience. It was my first time on stage in Nigeria, and I’m looking forward to going back there. Another was when I was about nine years old. It was my first performance ever, and it took place on a big stage at the Accra Sports Stadium. All the big bands were there, from Jewel Ackah to Ghanaba and even Black Uhuru. It was a grand event with thousands of screaming fans. That was my first gig! I sang the National Anthem. My father’s Millennium Concert was also very memorable. I released my album that night, and had so many fans around me as I signed autographs. My late brother Waleed was the star of that show as he sang the acoustic version of Bob Marley’s ‘No Woman No Cry’ and ‘Redemption Song’. Great memories.

What do you love most about what you do?

Yasmeen: Music makes people feel good, and it’s great being able to provide them with that product to make them feel good. Music is a powerful tool and has a direct impact on lives. You can’t put a price tag on that. It’s a wonderful feeling.

Is there anything you don’t like?

Yasmeen: I don’t think there’s anything I don’t like. Our industry is still growing. It’s still relatively new, and there is still so much to do. I don’t like the fact that many times event promoters don’t want to pay the artiste because ‘it’s not in the budget’. We need to have more respect for the art. We cannot call it an ‘industry’ until it starts generating an income. Artistes should be comfortable. My dad fought for it all his life. There’s no system in place to really look out for the artiste. There are just a handful of musicians that you can say are ‘living comfortably’.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

Yasmeen: I get it from my daily life and all the experiences I’ve had. I also enjoy listening to other artistes. I like artistes that have a strong message and are technically sound in music. My inspiration comes from many places.

What have you been up to recently?

Yasmeen: I have a few shows lined up, and my new album ‘Music Messenger’ is ready to be released in a couple of months. I’m doing a lot of promo for it. I’m basically enjoying life, as my career is in a good place. I have my two wonderful kids, a great family and a few businesses I run as well. So I stay quite busy.

What advice would you give to young ladies reading this that want to go into music?

Yasmeen: I would say reach for the sky, but be prepared because it’s a tough industry. It’s not the easiest industry to be in, but stay positive, and don’t compromise on your beliefs. Let your talent speak for you. Be serious about it and give it your best.

A message to your fans?

Yasmeen: Thanks for all the support, and look out for my new album. I’m really excited about it! Keep the love alive!