Building a successful brand is challenging whether you are a small business or individual. Historically, breaking out has especially been a tough job for women in music and entertainment.
One talent who seems to have cracked the code in navigating the music business is a 9-to-5’er turned singer-songwriter Tome. In just 2 years of becoming a full-time singer-songwriter, she has performed with Burna Boy, Wizkid and Mr. Eazi on world stages, and she is just getting started.
In March 2019, she debuted her single L’amour and released her debut EP, The Money, in February 2020. With her mantra, “I am enough. I am TÖME”, she’s determined to become a household name and empowering voice to African women across the world.
Tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Michelle Oluwatomi Akanbi. I’m a Nigerian-French Canadian Singer-Songwriter born in Montreal, Canada. I was raised in the diverse city of Toronto where I grew up listening to Fela, Erykah Badu, and Alicia Keys.
Music is a very important part of my life. I am my art! I put 100% of me into my music – sound, vocals, lyrics – all of it.
How will you describe yourself as an artist?
My music is what I like to call Afro-fusion. With a fun mix of genres, my songs have messages of love, fun, and empowerment. As an artist, I would say I am a lyricist with a message.
What influenced your passion for the arts?
I honestly can’t say there was any specific influence on my love of the arts. But I remember watching Superstar (1999) with Molly Shannon as a child and thinking to myself, I’m going to be a superstar one day. #Day1Dreams
What motivates you to get up every day to make music?
My motivation to keep going in my career is to make my family proud. I hope to provide them the ability to live the lives they want to.
Other people also motivate me. I am so lucky to be around people I can learn from. They add to my experience and view of the world which makes it easier to write music. There’s always a story to tell apart from my own.
Tell us about your career journey.
I’ve always been making music. I released my first project on SoundCloud in 2015 – an EP titled One with Self. It was a really personal project of 5 songs I recorded on my phone while I played guitar.
In 2018, while I was still working as a Marketing Executive at my full-time job, I recorded Tomesroom Chapter 1 and many other songs. I didn’t release any of the songs at the time because I had no team and didn’t want it to go “nowhere”. I planned to do another year working at my 9-to-5 job and “learn more about the industry”.
In 2019 my dad (who is now my manager) heard my song L’amour and asked me if I was ready to work. I said yes and officially started my career as a full-time artist.
So far, I have been really blessed. In my first year as a professional recording artist, I have shared the stage with incredible talents like Wizkid, Burnaboy, and done a tour with Mr. Eazi in Europe.
I have learned so much and improved my craft in such a short time. It’s amazing to know that it’s only the beginning.
What influence do you want your music to have on the African woman in today’s world?
I hope my music helps women accept their own strength. Every time I get on stage, I remind myself – “I am enough. I am TÖME”.
I want to show that the African woman can be and do anything. You don’t have to limit yourself to what anyone wants to tell you to be. All the obstacles in your way are only temporary.
You attract what you think and if you are focused and know what you want, you can never fail.
What are your top 3 tips for young African women looking to make their mark in their career or business?
- Stay on-trend. You have to continuously push yourself to experiment to stay as relevant as possible and grow.
- Stay open-minded and knowledgeable. It’s the same whether you have a 9-to-5 or business.
- Stay true to yourself. People can tell when you’re not being genuine. You will never make your mark if you don’t know yourself and get lost in other people’s vision of you.
Follow Tome’s journey and vibe to her music.