“Okay! Oya oya were were Kia maza ah, Maserati, Lamborghini, wo Bugatti, lori titi…” These are the infectious opening lyrics to Teno, the latest single by original Naija bad gyal, Miss Zara Gretti. Her songs are a contagious blend of pop, soul, reggae, dancehall and afrobeat. Using a mixture of English, Yoruba, Urhobo and pidgin,  Zara’s catchy vocals draw you in and the funky rhythms invite you to stand up and shake your booty.
If you don’t know about Zara, here’s the lowdown. Born sometime during the mid 80’s, the sassy songstress moved to the Philadelphia area of the United States and eventually graduated as one of the top 10 students in her class. A natural academic, Zara completed her undergraduate study at the University of Pittsburgh before a brief stint as a Paralegal. It was during this time that Zara begin to explore her musical sensibilities, and encouraged by friends Keno Kennett and Eldee the Don, she jumped in a recording booth in the summer of 2006. This led to the release of Good Girl/Bad Girl produced in Atlanta by Nigerian producer Seven. The track caught the attention of DJ Dee Money and began to generate major internet hype. Following her early success, Zara then relocated to Nigeria to continue her development as an artist. Following some turbulence with former record label Alapomeji, Miss Gretti is now an independent act under New management. A dual Nigerian and American citizen, Zara now spends her time between the two continents. I caught up with Zara to discuss music, fashion and living back home.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QhkZ-e_Q8XU&w=640&h=480]


Can you tell us about Teno? What does it mean and what was the thought process behind the song?

Teno is a fun song about being driven in life. Teno literally means “step on the medal/pedal to the metal/GiNGA”. The lines “Kokoro da (Where are the keys?), start the car. How’s the engine, cause we’re going far” came to me, and I built on it. I had a wonderful producer in Spankie Doodle and the synergy was as great as it was when we worked on my previous single ‘Aboko Ku’. I also had a great recording process with the Knighthouse Studio 51. The result has been and is a remarkable blessing!

Image - www.theworksofkb.com. Styling - Keno Kennett. MUA - Olamma Oparah

Who are your musical influences?

Honest and true. Handel’s “Messiah”, Rodgers and Hammerstein Musicals, Reggae Music (Roots and Dancehall), and a lot of pop music. I love The Kuti’s, The Marley’s, and women who push the envelope. Shout-outs to Gwen Stefani, Madonna, Lauryn Hill, Jessie J and other divas who rock.

Image - www.theworksofkb.com. Styling - Keno Kennett. MUA - Olamma Oparah

What are your thoughts on the evolution of African music and on music emerging from the African continent presently? Where do you see it going in the future?

The music from our continent has always been great. I am excited we are recently getting more love from the rest of the world. I do worry that we might remain boxed in the ‘Afrobeats rock’ spirit, and then fizzle out. I hope that we continue to attract the right kind of attention from the world and I can not wait to see more ‘non-commercial’ artists from Africa shock the World in a great way.

Your musical style is pretty eclectic. Are there any artists from different genres that you would like to work with?

Why thank you! I would love to work with the Femi Kuti, Bez, Spaceshipboi, Asa and Terry G from Nigeria, and Fokn Bois (Wanlov and Mensa) from Ghana. Internationally Janelle Monae: that would be so exciting.

Image - www.theworksofkb.com. Styling - Keno Kennett. MUA - Olamma Oparah

Lets talk fashion and style. How would you describe your personal style?

I am in the process of allowing my personality shine through my dress sense. If I were to describe my style, the words – afro-chic-grunge-pop would come to mind.

African designers have exploded onto the international scene and are generating a lot of interest. African inspired prints have been en vogue for the last ten or so years.  Who are your favourite African designers and why?

I have never been into labels or brand names but I love the recognition our African designers are getting. Beth Elis, a Nigerian Couture Bridal Designer based in the U.S. has a vision that I think is heavenly and her work is impeccable. I also love Mai Atafo; I love the way he plays with colours. It would be fun to rock some of his menswear. Grey and Chichia London’s work shine to me as they are not afraid to be different, fun and playful.

Image - www.theworksofkb.com. Styling - Keno Kennett. MUA - Olamma Oparah


[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fyf3LFZBiKo&w=640&h=360]

You moved back home after a stint in the States. What are the pros and cons to life in Naija vs. life in the States?

We need constant electricity, good water, drainage systems, better roads, hospitals, schools (I could go on)? But being around my family is something that I can not replace.

What can we expect to see next from Zara Gretti?

I recently just wrapped up a shoot for the Teno video in the U.S. with Champion Studios and the BEST Glam Squad! I can not wait to unleash the video and a new website www.ZaraGretti.com. I have not released an album yet, but I am now at a point where I will always be true to myself with guidance from the Spirit. FAB readers can always keep up with me on Twitter, and on Facebook.

Was great hanging, Stay FAB AND PROUD and always love YOU for who YOU are.

11 Responses

  1. Rukus

    Nice article. Zara is definitely the breath of fresh air that the Naija music industry needs; she’s talented, creative, and most importantly she’s brave enough to be herself. Keep rocking Zara!

  2. ShoWontStop

    Vvvvvrrrooom! Teno mole’
    Big ups gurl. Can’t wait to see the video.
    Catch u in the group :)

  3. Victor Imoukhuede

    I’ve love the new image Zara Gretti has taken on…the colours, the excitement, the positivity and of course the fashion style. It will be interesting to see what new direction the music will take. I’m sure there’s only one direction (no pun intended) she’s headed. That’s to the top!

  4. T

    i promise i am not looking at what’s behind the flowers u are holding. Teno video out soon….yaaayy

  5. NigerianKobe aka For FOOD Only

    Miss Zara Aka ABOKO KU Great stuff….Hardwork Pays Off….Lovely pics you gat in there sexy mama, waiting for more great music from you..Don’t Dull… Stay safe and breezy mami.

  6. damijones

    I need more space to teno oooo, am not going to stop teno-ing till I marry you……. Just found Mrs. Ige

  7. Ogee

    Zara’s that sound ‘un-boxed’ by naija standards. We need that lots and it is one of the best examples of the growth in Naija music. She’s a lovely dame too.. her sound… GEEnius!!!!

  8. Miss Ikaz

    I’m most defo a “zara fan” aboku is my fav of all times….. 😀

  9. Otunba Khamileon

    Nice tune! Catchy Hook! Definitely a breathe of fresh air from the lot! Zara is hot! Definitely the next big thing. Am loving this track “Teno” already getting hooked as I have played it 3x already and will be playing it some more before I hit the bed. Cant wait for the full album to drop. Am endorsing Zara big time! Will be posting this on my FB page. Bless you girl, One Love!


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