Interview

July 10, 2024

My music is tool for social change – Ayaara

My music is tool for social change – Ayaara

By Juliet Ebirim

US-based Nigerian musician, Victor Ayara better known as Ayaara, is set to release his debut album, ‘Freedom of Expression’ on July 13, 2024, at Influence Restaurant and Lounge, Norcross, GA. The event titled: ‘A Night of Freedom and Hope’, also marks the launch of the Imabasi Youth Foundation, a non-profit organisation dedicated to supporting orphans, at-risk youth and less-privileged individuals. In this interview, the former Nigerian journalist shares his passion, plans and expectations. Excerpts…

Until you relocated to the United States, you were a journalist in Nigeria. When and how did you start doing music?


I have always loved music. As a matter of fact, music has been a saviour of sorts for me. My first encounter with music was in the church choir. My mother has five sons and we were all enrolled into the church choir. Through music, I got a scholarship. Music has been the constant factor in my life. I usually have my guitar with me. If I’m not working, I’m making music.

How would you describe the kind of music you do?
When people tune in to the radio, they want to hear good music. They are not really concerned with the genre. I want to do music that will make you think and question certain realities, music that’ll help you relax, celebrate… I’m committed to using music as a tool for social change. There are different sounds in my music. A melody comes and I blend it however I chose.

You’re set to release your debut album – ‘Freedom of Expression’. Can you share what this project is about and the idea behind the title?


I love to express my artistry through different genres of music and I do not want to be put in a box, hence the title ‘Freedom of Expression’. I’m not confined to a specific genre. I just do good music. There are 12 songs on the album, but I have recorded over 30 tracks. I’m excited because it’s been a long time coming.

Having done music professionally for about 10 years. Why did it take you this long to put out a body of work?


I took time out to develop myself over the years. I can’t remember any time when I’m not either recording or performing. I’ve been able to manage it like that. It took me this long because you have to admit that as an independent artiste particularly, you don’t have the funding. I have responsibilities; family, mortgage, kids… I have a full-time job as an I.T project manager and I’m doing my doctorate. There are so many things to put into consideration.

What’s the motivation behind launching the foundation alongside your album release?


The foundation was borne out of my desire and understanding that you don’t have to be rich or a millionaire to do good. My decision to establish a non-profit organisation is to give back. I have been tremendously blessed and I want to be a blessing to others. Secondly, my mom whose name is Ima (meaning love in ibibio/Efik) showed me at a young age that you don’t have to be a millionaire to touch lives. She raised her five kids and still fostered others as a widow and a petty trader. I hope to continue her legacy in this regard. In addition to the album release on the 13th of this month, we will be launching the Imabasi Youth Foundation. The event is tagged ‘A Night of Freedom and Hope’ and it will be an unforgettable night of music and philanthropy.

What are your plans and hopes for the foundation in the long-run?


I have relatives who are bearing the brunt of bad leadership. What I’ve discovered over the years is that you can never help people enough. You help them today, they come tomorrow. It’s an unending cycle. Nothing gives me joy than when people in hopeless and despondent situations are able to say “Now we are able to do this…” That’s what Imabasi Youth Foundation is about. From IT, skills acquisition, culinary training, fashion and graphic designs, music, dance and art to an orphanage and skills development center. We hope to change lives and give people a fighting chance in life, especially those that society have unfortunately forgotten. I decided to do this so that like-minded individuals can also contribute.