Welcome to another edition of the #CelebratingWomenCampaign where we celebrate women who are thriving and blazing the trail in their chosen calling!
Today, we celebrate an accomplished young woman. This Multiple Award Winner has distinguished herself in different spheres of the creative industry, including an instrument mostly played by men.
Tuke Morgan is an incredibly talented Saxophonist, Blogger, Content Creator, Model and Entrepreneur, who won the Nigeria’s 25 Under 25 Award (2017) for her contribution to music in Nigeria, was nominated in the Best Lifestyle Blog category of the Nigerian Blog Awards in 2016, won the Foodelia International Food Photography Award, Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award and countless others.
Her honest account of her journey through life on her blog is what makes her so inspirational. She is willing to try new things and put herself out there, and is in no way ungenerous with the life lessons she gleans from her experiences.
I ask her about herself and what inspired her to learn the sax and play it professionally and she narrates:
‘ I am a 25 year old Nigerian Lady who has been blessed with many creative gifts. I moved to England at the age of 16 for A levels and realised that almost everyone in my year had a talent or skill they had nurtured since childhood. I decided I wanted to learn a musical instrument. I wanted to learn the guitar, to sing and strum like Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers. My dad suggested the Sax and we agreed that I would have trial lessons in both instruments. I had 2 guitar lessons and thought I loved it but when I picked up the Sax I realised I had found my passion. I knew I wanted to play it professionally after watching talented Saxophonists like Mike Aremu & Yolanda Brown perform. I thought it would be great to be paid to have fun and do what I love while inspiring other people that it is possible to make your dreams a reality.”
On her musical influences while growing up and her musical influences now, she explains,
‘I grew up around Christian music from Laterna Ventures, so Cece Winans, Mary Mary, Donnie McClurkin and Kirk Franklin. I am influenced by Different Genres of Music like Jazz, R n B, Soul, Country, Afrobeats and Gospel Music.’
I ask her how she coped with learning some aspects of playing a musical instrument in the public eye and how it challenged her in a positive way, she elucidates:
‘In A levels I was taught in the classical way, I played by sight reading, did ABRSM exams, played in a Jazz Band where we read sheet music. I would say, I learnt in a very structured way in my first year of playing. I moved to Nottingham for Uni and started playing in Church and that was where I learnt really quickly. I had to play by ear and wasn’t relying on sheet music anymore. I was driven to improve as I was surrounded by amazing musicians who encouraged me greatly. When I moved back to Nigeria, I played in the NYSC Band and that was a lot of fun. Playing at events was a Natural progression. I wouldn’t really say I learnt in the public eye. I would say my performing skills have improved through playing at events as I continuously learn ways to interact better and give my audience a better experience.’
I ask Tuke about her first single, ‘Trust’, its jazz influences and the spiritual motivation behind it, and she muses:
‘I love hymns, I find them very comforting, they put me in a reflective mode. I wouldn’t call myself a Gospel musician but my relationship with God is very important. So I wanted my first single to serve as an encouragement to people that we should put our trust in God, as he is aware of everything we are going through and is with us every step of the way. The former choir director of my parent’s church told me one day he felt led to produce a single for me for free. Thus, the way in which the production of my first single came about inspired the choice of the song.’
With my interest piqued, I ask how she utilises spontaneous jazz while playing at her live events, and she explains,
‘I pay attention to my audience when performing and switch things up based on their reception to the music.’
I ask how she creates a balance and maintains boundaries among her different talents: music, blogging and content creation, and food photography, and she speaks as a matter of factly,
‘When you are multi talented, you have to be very careful so you don’t end up being a Jack of all trades, master of none. Time needs to be spent working on each craft, developing expertise and marketing. There is a lot of work that needs to be done when managing multiple businesses.
I have learnt that there are different seasons to my life, so I need to be sensitive to God’s will and understand which gift he wants me to focus on at which time. I don’t take on work if I know I wouldn’t be able to deliver the optimum quality as and when expected.
I have built some sort of structure around these different areas and also have a good team to count on.’
On the question of what gives her the strength to keep going, despite life’s challenges and words she has received from God to get her through hard times, she shares:
‘An amazing support system and the knowledge that God’s got me gives me the strength to keep going.
God shall supply all my needs according to his riches in glory, he will give his angels charge over me, Jehovah Jireh cares for me
God is able to do just what he says he will do, he’s gonna fulfil every promise to you, Don’t Give up on God because he wouldn’t give up on you, he is able
With God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26)
I can do just anything through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13)
keep me going’
Tuke Morgan explains how she incorporates God into her music on recorded tracks and in live events, and I ask if she has received a spiritual vision for her music career and she replies,
‘I haven’t received a spiritual vision yet but I know God has plans for me regarding my music career.’
I inquire over perceived inhibitions in the way of female saxophone players, and Tuke says,
‘No, not really. A lot of people are shocked when they meet female saxophonists, however when they see us play they realise that it isn’t an instrument reserved solely for males.’
I ask her how she developed her entrepreneurial spirit and translate it into her businesses, and she narrates fondly,
‘My parents are both entrepreneurs and there are many hugely successful entrepreneurs in my family. I learn lessons from my experiences and other people’s experiences. I read books and apply what I’ve learnt so I don’t make the same mistake twice. My entrepreneurial spirit has been developed by my drive to succeed and the need to monetise my talents.’
As regards blogging, I ask what principles she has adopted to distinguish her blog for excellence and to ensure her name is a force to be reckoned with in the blogging community, she states succintly,
‘Quality is my watch word
No grammatical errors
I’m always learning
I like collaborating
I make sure I share new blogposts on different platforms
I also contribute to bigger platforms to increase my reach’
I finally asked to leave a word for aspiring saxophone players and she instructs:
‘Practice makes perfect
Listen to other saxophonists, you learn a lot my listening to people who have been playing for longer
Have Saxophonist friends, share your experiences and learn from their mistakes
Don’t be discouraged, life is a marathon, not a sprint.’
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