Student who starred on Nigerian TV follows his passions for music, engineering at RIT
A. Sue Weisler
Adesola Adedewe may be thousands of miles from his native Nigeria while attending Rochester Institute of Technology, but that doesn’t stop him from being recognized by other international students who watched him as a contestant on The Voice: Nigeria, which aired throughout the African continent in 2016.
Adedewe, who is known by his nickname, Dewé (dee-WAY), is a third-year electrical engineering major who chose RIT, in part, because it allowed him to continue his passion for music while fueling his fascination with technology. He is the lead singer of a band of fellow RIT students, The Roars, who took first place at RIT President David Munson’s Performing Arts Challenge at last spring’s Imagine RIT: Creativity and Innovation Festival.
The Roars will present a free concert this Friday, from 8-10 p.m. in the Fireside Lounge.
“Music pretty much feels like air in my lungs, and I feel alive any time I hear a song that I love,” he said.
Dewé, 22, had no formal music training but learned of his talent after joining his church choir when he was 13. “The director realized I had something special, so she gave me solos,” he said. He became music director for the church’s youth choir and joined an Afro-soul band.
His shot at stardom began after he auditioned for a TV show in Nigeria, Project Fame, although he didn’t get selected. But one of the people involved with that show was a recruiter for The Voice: Nigeria, and a month later invited him for a private audition. More than 5,000 people applied for The Voice; only 105 were accepted, he said.
He appeared in six shows and was a finalist, finishing in the top eight before being cut.
“I had so much fan mail,” he said. “And I couldn’t go on public transportation any more. It was very awkward. People were asking for my autograph. My Instagram had about 800 followers one day, and the next day I had more than 8,000.”
Despite the sudden fame, Dewé called his experience on the show “awesome. I met some amazing people.”
After the show, Dewé moved to Brooklyn, where his mother had moved a few years earlier, and applied to RIT.
“I believe everything happens for a reason,” he said. “I wanted to have an education in the U.S., so I was keeping my eyes wide open for colleges, looking for good electrical engineering schools in New York.”
At RIT, he immediately became involved, joining the Organization of African Students, and helping form The Roars. He recalls one of their first performances at an open mic at Java Wally’s.
“We had a full house of people standing and watching us,” he said.
He said many who know him as an engineering student don’t know about his musical interest, and those who know him as a singer don’t know about his engineering background. He wants to explore both passions. This year, he’s the Student Government senator for RIT’s Kate Gleason College of Engineering.
“Engineering is something I’d like to do as a hobby. Music is something I’d like to do as a career,” he said. “I really want to be an entrepreneur. I see myself growing tech startups, having a global impact, helping African countries. Ultimately, I’ll go anywhere I can add value to the community.”
Dewé has no desire to enter talent contests on American television programs. “They are in it for the competition, not for the artist,” he said. “They’ll have a lot of contracts you have to sign to record on their labels, and they’re not obliged to help you. I plan to pursue music by myself.”
He’d like to see The Roars expand with a percussionist and perhaps even a full orchestra that would allow them to perform different genres of music from their current alternative rock and soul music.
And he’d like to find more areas on campus to practice. “We usually practice in the hallway of the Student Alumni Union,” he said. “We like the acoustics.”
Meanwhile, some of his televised performances are available on YouTube, and there may be more videos to come from The Roars.
“I love making people feel joyful and happy when they hear me sing,” he said. “I believe being an artist gives me the ability to make people feel various emotions, and being able to control someone’s emotion is a gift I don’t take lightly.”