Zali determined to make it in music world
Even when she was a student in Our Lady’s Bower in Athlone, music was Joy Oshafi’s passion.
Having taken a rather unconventional route into the music industry since leaving school, the multi-talented singer songwriter – who uses the stage name of Zali – has released four singles to date, and is currently working on an EP which she is planning to release in March.
“Zali is actually the last four letters of my middle name,” she explains. “And my parents were delighted when I chose to use the name for my music career as it retains a strong connection to my Nigerian roots.”
Her latest single, ”Best Day”, was released in time for the Christmas market, and she says it was written as her “contribution to positivity, hope and joy” in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I wanted to give the world, through my music, a much-needed reason to dance,” she says, and with lyrics like ‘after the year we’ve had, we deserve one perfect day. Even though our lives have been changed, to know we’ll be okay” the song is full of positivity.
A major ambition for ZALI is to make a positive impact in her home country through her music and involvement in the music industry. With hopes that as she continues to grow her community, to use her platform to continue focusing on causes close to her heart and making an impact where possible.
Zali came to live in Athlone, with her parents from their home in the Nigerian city of Warri when she was just eight years old, and she describes it as “a beautiful town where we were all made feel very welcome.”
While she says she is “very proud” of her Nigerian heritage, she is now an Irish citizen and regards Ireland as her home. “All my memories of growing up in Athlone are happy ones,” she says. "There was such a huge mix of people from all over the world, and every summer the town was filled with exchange students so it was a really great place to grow up."
As a student in the Bower, Zali took part in the school musicals and she was also involved in drama, contemporary dance and took piano lessons in Athlone. She was also the lead vocalist in her church choir.
“I come from a very musical family, especially on my Dad’s side, so my parents always encouraged me and made many sacrifices for me, and also for my four brothers,” she says.
The young singer songwriter credits Athlone with providing “the building blocks” for her musical career, and adds that “the musical fire in me began in Athlone.”
However, a new life in Dublin beckoned after Zali left school, and she spent a semester studying finance and accounting at Griffith College, before relocating to Boston, Massachusetts, to complete her degree at Northeastern University.
“Alongside my studies, I was also very involved with the arts scene in Boston, so I did vocal development, acting and a number of other courses that I felt would help me start a career in music back in Dublin,” she says.
After working in investment banking for a few years, and climbing the corporate ladder in Dublin, Zali felt that her “musical dream was dying……I had all the skills, the voice, the talent, and I was writing songs, but I was not satisfied in the banking world, I felt I wasn’t fulfilling my life’s purpose which was to sing, and I felt time was running out for me,” she admits.
“I decided to quit the corporate world and just go for a career in music, which I have been doing on a full-time basis since 2018,” says the singer/songwriter, and while she says it has been “tough” to make the big breakthrough she would like, she is determined to succeed.
“I know I make good music, but all artists trying to make an impact need financial support, and that is the biggest problem we face,” says Zali.
“I hope to be able to keep up the consistency over the coming months and I am working on building a strong team around me with a view to getting a recording contract.”
Her debut single “Can’t Stop” garnered over 120,000 streams worldwide, while the follow-up “Girls Like Us” won the ‘Best Irish Single’ Award at the 2018 Irish Post Music Awards, and led to a show stopping performance of the song in front of a crowd of 3,000 people at the INEC in Killarney at the awards ceremony which was televised by TG4.
With four singles now under her belt, and an EP on the way, Zali is hoping that her name “will be on everyone’s lips” sooner rather than later – and it all started in Athlone!