Rosaline Iyabode Johnson (Iyabode) is a Sierra Leonean jazz, Afropunk and neo-soul singer, songwriter, and performer whose style of music is significantly reshaping the entertainment industry in Sierra Leone. Her recent EP Inspireshɔn (Inspiration), released under the record label OG Tunes, is a phenomenal blend of creole rhyming, folk, and smooth jazz. The EP has generated reactions from music-loving fans and enthusiasts. Reviews spurn from the originality of the tracks and Iyabode’s astonishing vocals.
Rosaline Iyabode Johnson was born in January 1995. The 28-year-old is an LLB holder from the country’s first university, Fourah Bay College. Aside from music, Iyabode is an English Language tutor and writer. She is a member of Femme collective SL, which is a feminist platform that is dedicated to giving women a space to express themselves and shed light and awareness on the issues that faced by them in society. Iyabode is the co-founder and doubles as a member and the Vice President of the Salone Literary Club. The club is geared towards promoting the art of poetry and spoken word performances. Being a music lover herself, Iyabode is a member of the Groovy colour music band at the Ballanta Academy of music. It is an important section of the academy and also has a band for hire.
In 2021, Rosaline and her friends started a new group called Telem. It is a space formed to perform live original music and as well contribute to the creative economy of Sierra Leone.
The footage below shows Iyabode during a live performance with Telem.
Iyabode’s interest in music from the onset was natural. The African Dream interfaced with the singer where she was asked about her initial step into the world of music. She said, “For as long as I can possibly remember, I have always been interested in music and I was always singing. However, I started taking classes at the Ballanta Academy of Music during my later years at secondary school. Later, I joined the Groovy Colours band.” Her commitment to music was concrete so much that no inspiration led her to music. “I was just born with the passion and I never outgrew it”, Iyabode confirmed.
As an artiste, Iyabode’s biggest career highlight so far is the release of her EP. On the 11th of February, 2023, she released her first EP titled Inspireshɔn (Inspiration) released under the record label, OG Tunes.
The EP consists of five (5) tracks with Satide (Saturday) being a fan favourite. The songs are all inspired by her personal experiences while romanticising the beauty of the Sierra Leonean language (creole) and its geographical beauty.
Speaking on the difficult thing about being a musician in Sierra Leone, Iyabode mentioned, “Our intellectual property laws and copyright laws in Sierra Leone are not entirely efficient in protecting and ensuring creatives in Sierra Leone earn the full advantage of their royalties and copyright rights like other countries.” She also expressed frustration with distribution in the country and the strenuous manner of getting her music out. “People would much rather support and listen to foreign music than our own. I also wish the government will take SL entertainment seriously because arts and entertainment bring a lot of investments and revenue to a country’s GDP.”
Nevertheless, Iyabode still drools over the feeling of being a musician. She cites the freedom to express herself and show her authenticity to her fans. “The best thing is seeing how my supporters respond and accept me and my art.” For aspiring artistes, Iyabode’s advice is that you focus on education. “Do whatever you can to continuously educate and improve yourself,” she said.
When she is not being a singer and a performer, Iyabode loves exploring new activities with friends, turning the pages of novels to get entertained, writing short stories and poetry, watching movies and learning new things.
Similar to many Sierra Leonean artistes, Iyabode has mixed feelings about the country’s entertainment industry and its future of it. “Certain musicians have forced Sierra Leoneans to start paying attention to what we have, although I can see the tide turning, we definitely need more Sierra Leoneans to make the switch and the decision to consciously support our own. We have incredible people right here and they need our support. I am not opposed to foreign music as I do have my own collection of foreign art that I do absolutely adore, but again, the potential is right here with us currently. As for the future, I do believe more and more artists will find the confidence and platforms to put their art out and more people will be paying attention. Slowly and surely, the tide will turn,” Iyabode submitted.
In case you reading this article as a fan, Iyabode wants you to expect authenticity, culture, and pure art from her music. Guess what? She is currently working on some more creative literary/musical works to be released in due time.
Click on this link to stream her EP Inspireshɔn: https://linktr.ee/og_tunes
You can also follow her on Instagram @Roz_with_a_vengeance
Facebook: Iyabode Johnson
In five years, i’d like to educate myself more in music and be consistent with releases. I also want to be a positive impact ON the creative industry of this country. It is time for us to be taken seriously in and out of this country.
Rosaline Iyabode Johnson on where she sees herself in the next five years