LADY DONLI -ENJOY YOUR LIFE: A Guide by Pan African Rock star

‘Enjoy your Life’ creator, Lady Donli is a Pan African rockstar connecting Africans to their roots by blending traditional African music genres like 80s funk and RnB into her own unique contemporary sound. With inspirations like Angelique Kidjo, Fela Kuti, Erykah Badu and Burna Boy, the songstress’ approach to life and music echoes celebration and pride in one’s abilities and craft. No stranger to hard times herself, Lady Donli’s musicality is as uplifting as it is good…like really really good.

photographed by Danielle Mbonu

Mid tour, we caught up with youth elected Enjoyment Minister after her gig at The Sunflower Lounge in Birmingham. With dope sets from 234jayda and DJ FEMO , the finale ended, in cascades of cold hard printed ‘Enjoy Your Life’ cash raining down on the star spread by adoring fans. Lady Donli then graced rain. with some tips and tricks for Enjoying life and staying true to your roots. 

This is a guide to enjoyment, originality and staying positive by a Pan African Rockstar.

Step 1- Know & appreciate your FLAVA

What goes into being a Pan-African rockstar?
Recognising I am African, and that is where I place myself in the world. Understanding how everything for me comes from Africa and just trying to empower Africans with their stories. By giving my people knowledge of their history through my music and being able to share that. Even supporting the Pan African movement whether it is through owning our records, industry and resources in order to tell our stories and elevate each other.

Do you think African artists should aspire to be recognised by the western world and market?
Fundamentally, my focus is on Africa. I want Africa to recognise and celebrate me. I am an African, so I make music for Africans and if it flies that’s wonderful. But I’m more concerned with supporting things that empower and connect my people with each other and their roots.

Do you see your music as a hybrid genre?
People abroad have rock, pop etc. But when people think of African music they think of afrobeats. Meanwhile, there are millions of people in Africa with millions of sounds. So why do you want to reduce us to one box? If an African created it, it is inherently African, it’s African music.
I just want people to know there is so much more you can do as long as you keep it rooted. I really enjoy and want to further explore genres like highlife. There’s also Fuji music which interests me.
If we don’t push these genres and celebrate them, they are going to die out and give way to only one genre. That’s all the world will recognise us for when there’s so much more diversity.

What do you think connects these audiences to your music?
I think its the energy honestly.
I think people listen to my music as an escape and through that, they understand that it can also apply to your reality. You listen to my music and you’re convicted to enjoying your life, and to living in the moment. The only day that is guaranteed is today. Tomorrow is not certain, and that has been my mantra.

Photographed by Danielle Mbonu

Step 2 – Never Bite the Dust. Power through

How has your music changed between now and your 2017 sound ‘Letters to Her’?
I was really sad when I made ‘Letters to Her’. Even, when I made ‘Enjoy Your Life’, I was in a really hard place. I just knew I had to power through.
I chose to title the project ‘Enjoy your life’ because I needed to remind myself to keep going. I knew that if I wanted to do this for the long term -for life – I would have to get through this.

When I started making ‘Enjoy Your Life’, I listened to a lot of old African music from the 70s and 80s. That definitely influenced my soundscape. I was so intrigued because I found African funk music, Nigerian funk and rock n roll. There is so much more to African music than mainstream Afropop and ‘Enjoy Your Life’ really allowed me to explore that.

How do you enjoy your life even when you’re not feeling it?
I have bad days and good days, but I love what I do.
This is the only thing I’ve dreamt about since I was a little girl. I am grateful more than anything to be able to do this every day.
I think its that passion which sustains me and propels me forward.
When I was touring out in Lagos, I didn’t have any proper sleeping arrangements. So every night after a show, I would worry about where I would stay the next day. It got to the point where I had to be like, “you know what? Tomorrow will sort itself out”. And that’s how, I guess, I keep on moving. I think that is a spirit a lot of people can relate to.

Photographed by Danielle Mbonu


Step 3 – Confidence is Key

As an African woman living in societies where our Enjoyment is not always prioritized, how did you build your “Enjoy Your Life” mentality?
I recognise that I am a person of influence. I just know that it’s my duty to live my life to the fullest and not just for me but for the daughters I want to bring into this world. Everything I’m doing is just a step in making the world better for younger girls. I want to make an impact.

Would you say you’ve always been confident in yourself and your craft?
Definitely not, but then I made Enjoy Your Life. Now, I know I’m the shit.
I am constantly learning.
My advice to young creatives is: if there is something you want to pursue, just never stop
learning. Do your research. I went to so many concerts, watched so many videos to get to where  I am today. Also, stay true to yourself and your vision. Always find time for the people you love. Like I said earlier, the only day that’s for certain is today; so don’t miss out.

‘Enjoy Your Life’ is filled with affirmations of self-love and kindness. On songs like ‘Cash’ and ‘Flava’, the superstar echoes an abundance mindset. Not only does she affirm blessings, positivity and (cash) flow towards her, but also that she is more than deserving of these gifts.
Now, surrounded by members of her team packed into the tiny backstage of the venue in Birmingham, Lady Donli’s message of perseverance rings true. Her manager Mayowa, her photographers and other members of her posse, all seem to have been with the star from the very beginning recounting stories of past concerts, cracking jokes and sharing constructive feedback on her performance and energy of the crowd.
The Pan African Rockstar is enjoying herself, taking things in stride, honouring her roots and looking forward to the next chapter in her life and so are we!

 The star just released her latest Nollywood inspired visual ‘Corner, the Movie’  currently concentrating working on her EP and touring.

Listen to Enjoy Your Life here and remember you didn’t come here to suffer, you came to enjoy! Get that bread and butter!