Fatima Muhammad Sals, popularly known as Sals Fateetee, is a popular female R&B singer from the North. Despite many hurdles, she is carving a niche for herself in the music industry in Nigeria and beyond. In this interview, she spoke about how she started and other issues.
Daily Trust: How did you venture into the music industry?
Sals Fateetee: I am from Dustimma in Katsina State in Northern Nigeria. I did my primary school there and started secondary education at Nurul Albab Secondary School before we relocated to Abuja after the demise of my mother. I finished my secondary school education in Abuja and got admission into the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria. That was where I started music.
I started with cover versions of people’s music, but at one point I had to stop because it was affecting my studies. I used to attend events in school.
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When I graduated from the university, I continued with the cover version, posting them on my social media handles, just for fun. Somehow, somewhere, Ali Jita saw the cover I did on his music and invited me to his concert in Abuja in 2018. From there, people started advising me to start my own music and I heeded their advice. That was basically how it all started, with pure passion. Since then I have moved up to this point. And as they say, the rest is a story.
DT: Among genres of music, why did you go for R&B?
Fateetee: I actually started with rap while at school, but I later noticed that I was not good at it, and that R&B was suitable for me and my style. That was why I opted for R&B.
DT: If you didn’t become a musician, what would you have been doing?
Fateetee: I would have probably become a cartoonist. I like art and drawing very much. In fact, I do it in my leisure time.
DT: In your recent music video, ‘Africa,’ there was no DJ Abba, but his voice was in the audio, what happened?
Fateetee: Nothing. It’s my music and I did the video alone. It was not collaboration; and I did not feature him. He was just a backup in the music. That is it. But there is another music I featured him – ‘Tell Me.’ If I am doing that video he would appear.
DT: Which musicians would you like to collaborate with?
Fateetee: From the North, I will like to collaborate with Dija, Namenj, Ado Gwanja, and Hamisu Breaker, and from the South, Chike, Tiwa Savage, Davido and Wizkid.
DT: One of the concerns for female singers, especially you that chose to go this way in the North, is mode of dressing, particularly dancers. What do you have to say about this?
Fateetee: Well, I can’t talk for everybody, but as far as I am concerned, I feel more comfortable when I am covered. I don’t know of others and how they feel. Meanwhile, there are modern ways of modesty. In this modern way you will look modest and good.
DT: Even in your music video, ‘Africa,’ you are all covered, but don’t you think it would affect your market and popularity, especially in the South?
Fateetee: I don’t think so. It will even surprise you to know that many people are sending me direct messages that they admire my style, with many talking precisely on my mode of dressing. So people are happy with me, what I am doing and how I am doing it. I am also happy that people are putting that barrier on me because I have never heard anyone or received any message telling me to stop covering myself up.
DT: Hausa musicians in rap and R&B genres are on the rise, what do you think is the factor?
Fateetee: There are many good and talented female singers, but they are afraid to come out and show up. Some of them are facing challenges and pressure from home because of bad perception about us, which I told you I also struggled with. But in some cases, it is not the challenges, but lack of courage. I have been receiving messages from many prospective talented female singers, asking questions on how to go about it. And I have been advising them accordingly. They just need encouragement.
DT: Among your songs, which one do you feel is the best and why?
Fateetee: The one I love most is, ‘Hold you down.’ I love it most because (though I don’t want to give the full gist because the video is not yet out) it looks like me loving a guy and his relatives going against it because I am a musician. I am telling him not to listen to them because we are humans with feelings.
DT: Your music, ‘Muna nan,’ is like advocacy, why did you do it?
Fateetee: The music was originally that of Alicia Keys, where she talked about the problems bedevilling the world. I remade it and used it in my country. I tried to address the problems bedevilling Nigeria. Most of the things I spoke about in the music are even on the rise, may God protect us all.
DT: Where do you see yourself in the near future in the music industry?
Fateetee: In the near future, like five to six years, I see myself going global. I am not talking about Nigeria alone; my plan is to go international. I have started with the Niger Republic, where I recently did one video with Phyno B, who is the president of Nigerien musicians. From there, I am moving on to the international level, by God’s grace.
DT: Who are your role models in the music industry?
Fateetee: Among female musicians, I look up to Dija and Tiwa Savage, and maybe Davido among the males. This is because I like his courage and how he keeps pushing against all the negative things that people are talking about him. The way he shrugs off negative things about him and keeps going is inspiring.
DT: As a northern female musician, what are the challenges you are facing?
Fateetee: It is not only in the North, virtually everywhere you go, I think things are hard for females, not only in the music industry but virtually on everything. I feel like our people are limiting females despite their potentials. I have that feeling that if I were a guy I would have been far more than where I am now. But because I am a female, even if I attend events you have to keep it cool because you will see some challenges. You just have to be cool and do what you want to do and go. But this is not applicable to everybody, so for the few that show real love, I appreciate them all because I know how they go out of their ways to show me love.
You know there is a notion, most especially in the North, that musicians are bad boys. I faced those challenges at home while I was starting. It is a bad perception. But as of now, I don’t have any problem like that.
There are people that can castigate and say negative things about you, but as far as I am concerned, the most important thing is that after explaining what I wanted and how I wanted it to my parents, they accepted it and gave me their conditions. People will keep on talking. I take both positive and negative talks and use them as part of my growth. So it all depends on how you handle the challenges.
DT: Don’t you think such things can demoralise you and affect your career growth?
Fateetee: No. They are all good for my growth. I take them in good faith. If some people talk bad of you, sit down and think, you may find something good out of it. That is how I am doing, and it has always been advantageous to me. So, if people are castigating or talking bad about me, I usually don’t take it to my heart, let alone allow it to demoralise me.
DT: Any message to your fans?
Fateetee: Just big thanks to all my fans and friends. I am nothing without them and I appreciate them all. And by God’s grace, I will keep on making them proud. I will never let them down. And to those I hardly replied their messages or returned their calls, I am sorry, but I really appreciate them all.