In Conversation with Titilayo Adedokun

From being a beauty queen to being an opera singer, actress, writer and director, she has one of the most decorated resumes in the entert...

From being a beauty queen to being an opera singer, actress, writer and director, she has one of the most decorated resumes in the entertainment business. Anyone who has ever crossed paths with this amazing soul will testify to the fact that her passion and enthusiasm for what she does is second to none!

In this instalment of our interviews segment, Godfrey Johnson (GJ) discovers the magic of international opera star and Miss America finalist, Titilayo Adedokun (TA).

Below are excerpts from the conversation…….


GJ: I met you a little while ago and was immediately struck by your passion and enthusiasm. You really seem to grab life by the treble clef and savor every moment. Am I right?

TA: Life is way short, so I always try to look at my glass as half full, surround myself with positive people and try not to be part of the problem, but rather part of the solution.

GJ: When did you discover your voice?

TA: I have always known I could sing. Growing up between the US and Nigeria, I sang solos in churches and joined the choir of every school I attended. But I never considered studying music or having a career in music until I started college in Alabama, as an English (pre-law) major. I was only 14 but Judson College was a small college and the music professors recognized my talent right away. I went from singing in the college choir as a hobby to adding music as a second major with a full 4-year scholarship. From there I was accepted with a full scholarship to the master's program in Opera and vocal performance at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. And the rest, as they say, was history.
 
GJ: When did you first appear on stage and what was the production?

TA: If you think of a church as a stage, then it would be when I was two years old in a Baptist Church in Nashville, Tennessee. But if you are referring to my first paid job in a professional theater, then it would be "Clara" in "Porgy  and Bess" with Shreveport Opera in Louisiana, in 1994.

GJ: You have an extraordinary CV. You are a beauty queen, opera singer, actress, parent, writer and director. Please name some career highlights. 

TA: I've been so lucky to be part of a lot of wonderful productions, worked and learned from some amazing people. So, I feel like I have had a lot of career highlights. Just to name a few: singing in front of a live audience of over 25 000 people and millions of viewers during the Miss America Pageant Live Broadcast, where I placed 2nd-runner up and won the talent portion; moving to Italy on a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship where I got a chance to study with Renata Scotto and collaborate with Giorgio Gaslini. Performing in "50 Years of Comden & Green", with both composers, as well as with Tommy Tune and Lauren Bacall. Being handpicked by Franco Zeffirelli to sing AIDA in Busseto, Italy. The list goes on. Even the one-woman show that I'm currently performing feels like a highlight because I enjoy it so much and it's the first time I've done a one-woman show as two women.

GJ: What opera roles did you find most rewarding?

TA: I like strong women characters and roles that I can sink my teeth into. I enjoy creating a history or background for every character I portray. You come up with some really creative answers and ideas that can be very helpful in bringing that character to life. I really enjoyed singing Musetta. She was feisty and knew that where there's a will, there's a way. I could relate well to the inner conflicts and strength of Tosca, a role that I sang for the first time in Hungary. And Carmen, Carmencita, what is there not to love? Bizet created in her the perfect stage ego character. Every man wants her and every woman wants to be her. I also like the challenge of trying on roles that are very different from me or roles that made me uncomfortable, like I am completely out of my skin. One such character is one of the two women I portray in my show, "50 Shades of Fairytales"

GJ: Who are your favourite composers?

TA: Favorite composers: Puccini, Mozart, Dvorak, Cole Porter, George Gershwin

GJ: What have you got planned for the near future?

TA:  I hope to develop another show or two, but they will be compact shows that I can either perform alone or with a very small cast. I am always happy to collaborate with other artists and creative people. When my 3 girls are a bit older, I would like to pursue a PhD in Music Therapy and, time permitting, perhaps also study Property Law.

GJ: You are indeed an international star which means you have a stage in many cities. What place do you consider home and why?

TA: Although I'm active in three different countries on three different continents, I feel mostly at home in Cape Town and with my family in the US. I love so many things about Cape Town (arguably the most beautiful city in the world), including the way the sun kisses your skin. I never knew how much I needed the sun until I moved to Cape Town. And whether I'm in New York or Tulsa, Oklahoma, there's no other place where I can really relax and be completely myself except with the people who have always known me, my family.

GJ: What are you working on right now?

TA: I've been working on my 3rd CD for a while now, but with so many other things in the pipeline, it might need to wait a little longer. I'd love to take "50 Shades of Fairytales" to as many small theaters as possible and I hope to keep getting people more and more interested in the theater through the show. Lastly, I'm looking for inspiration and collaboration for the next project.

GJ: Where can we find out more about you? 

TA: Internet and social media: my website titilayoadedokun.com, my Facebook musician page under my name "Titilayo Adedokun", my Twitter account under @TitilayoMusic and also through the mailing list that I use to send concert notifications.

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Urban Craft Magazine: In Conversation with Titilayo Adedokun
In Conversation with Titilayo Adedokun
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