Q. Tell us about yourself – education and childhood memories?
I was born in Port Harcourt Nigeria in 1980, and attended my nursery, primary and secondary school education in Port Harcourt. I studied Theatre Arts at the University of Port Harcourt and majored in Acting. During that time, I also did some acting jobs—acted alongside Rita Dominic and Francis Duru in 1997 or 98, jeez, it’s been a long time. I also acted with Sam Dede and Ireti Doyle in an Opa Williams production. After studying at Uniport, I managed my own band, and produced two albums before leaving the country. I went to the United kingdom and enrolled into University there. Today, I hold a Master of Arts degree in ENGLISH LITERATURE, FILM AND VISUAL CULTURE, and an MSc in MANAGEMENT, ECONOMICS AND INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS.
I consider myself to be a very hardworking lady who has been through the ups and downs of life. I am a very patient human being. I love honesty. My childhood memories are that of a fierce young girl, who just had to struggle to be where she is today. I’ve always been a fighter. When I was a child, a pretty looking child, I got a lot of other girls in the hood being jealous. I always stood out in everything. In primary school, I was always close to my teachers, and was always made the class prefect. I was always helping my teachers with marking other pupil’s homework. Boys used to fight over me, up until secondary school. I was always looking after my younger ones. I was a very intelligent young child until I was 14 when my parents changed my school, and as I became a teenager, my focus shifted towards music and that was all I concentrated on until I enrolled into Uniport to study Theatre Arts. For more click on read more
My parents made sure I joined the church choir at about age 9. Before then, they said I used to sing to Bob Marley’s music, I think when I was 2 years old. At age 11, when I got into secondary school, they made sure I joined the school choir too. I became a Chorister as a Soprano singer and that was how I learnt how to sing sheet music. My favorite classical music at the time was ‘Halleluyah Chorus’ Handel Messiah. So when I changed schools, I met a girl by the name of Sophia and she introduced me to a guy by the name of ‘Daddy B’, and just as we had finished secondary school, I was 16 at the time or so, Daddy B, said he would like me to do back-up vocals for him. I took the offer, and went to the studio with him. That was how I met Rolly Ajomiwe. Rolly was producing for Daddy B, and when I sang, he had this surprise look and said I had a strong voice, and asked me to return and do more back-ups. I did a year later or so, and Rolly asked me to take up a part in a song he was doing with Reggae/Dancehall artist ‘Pupa Say’. So I did my part and loved the way it came out. Rolly asked me to continue singing, and that was how he introduced me to Geraldo Pino (bless his soul).
When I rehearsed with Pino’s band back then or ‘Pa P’ as we called him, Pa P, said my voice was not mature enough and I wasn’t hitting the right keys, that I needed to go back and practice some more. Of course, we had wonderful singers like Lady IB, Ebi and Debby Rickett who were known for their beautiful vocals. So I went back home, and practiced for another year. During this time, I had become a student at Uniport. One day, I got up and went to Pa P, and told him I was ready. So, we booked a day for rehearsal, and I sang with his new set of musicians, and I remember another artsist ‘Mozy B’ yelling ‘Nna, see goose bumps’. There was silence when I finished singing, and that was how I got the job.
I worked with Pa P for almost two years, and later went ahead to have my own band.
Q. What kind of music did you listen to when growing up?
Growing up, my parents had music by Abba, Tina Turner, Sade, Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton, Onyeka Onwenu, Chrsity Essien Igbokwe…all sorts of music. And when I grew into a teenager, I watched ‘The Bodyguard’—Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner, and that was what changed the way I saw music. At that point, I went out and bought the tape, I played it in my dad’s car if there was no chance for me to play it in the house because my dad or mom was busy with the stereo, I used to disturb the neighbors each time I was practicing a Whitney Houston’s song in the car…it was like an orchestra for me. Of course, I lived in my own musical world. Later, I expanded my taste in music. I went into Rock. Rod Steward, Beetles, Jon Bon Jovi, and the likes of them…always loved Tina Turner, Skunk Anansie, Meredith Brooks, Sheryl Crow, to mention a few.
Q. When you started out in music who were your role models?
My role models were Onyeka Onwenu, Tina Turner, Sade, and Whitney Houston, Whitney more especially because I covered most of her songs with my band.
Q. How would you describe your kind of music?
I’ve never really been able to define my style because I just sing it as it comes. For instance, when I received a reggae beat from PH produce Komboye Sinclair, I sang, and was told I was singing in reggae in the style of Anita Baker. Sometimes people said I sound like Tina Turner, other times Onyeka, and most recently, people have said I sound like Omawomi. I think I move with the times. I have a unique style that cannot be perfectly conceptualized. However, I would say, my kind of music just flows. It’s a mix of soul and pop.
Q. how would rate female musicians in the entertainment industry in nigeria?
Well, when I returned to Nigeria, I was surprised to find that female musicians were not as popular as male musicians and I questioned a couple of persons who told me that the reason for that is that female musicians are not as hardworking as the males. Rating them based on that, I generally think female musicians can do a lot better.
Q. what challenges have you encountered in the music industry in nigeria?
Wow! Lots of challenges. Going out to perform when most people are sleeping. Coming back after midnight, and sleeping when people are awake. Meeting people who want to take advantage just because one is female. Having to tackle issues that are meant for men or soldiers. Growing to become a soldier too because that’s the only way to survive in the music industry. You gotta be tough!
Q. Tell us about your new single?
My new single is titled ‘Gimme Something’. This one happened just when I wasn’t expecting it to at all. I was done with music, done with recording, and looking forward to a 9-5 job. But, I woke up one morning and decided to print out one of my singles that I did in the UK. So I began sharing it to everyone I came in contact with. I was looking to move house then, and met this agent who said he had a flat to show me at Surulere. I saw the apartment and didn’t think much of it. Before I left that day, I gave him my CD. Later I got a phone call from a guy who said he was a music producer that an agent gave him my music. From the way he was sounding I knew we would be working together. So I booked an appointment to see him. I got there, and was introduced to another producer, and we discussed, a beat was brought to me, I loved it, wrote and sang it in the studio and within a space of 4 hours, ‘Gimme Something’, my new single was born. It’s a song I wouldn’t ‘normally’ do because of the content which is not what I am used to. I am used to writing music that would make the listener think, and go back, work on it, and come back to the studio. Not used to ‘chanting’ in a song, which was what I did with this new single. Apparently, I have received some good feedbacks and came to the conclusion, Nigeria is open to different styles of music, but something that they can easily latch on, if you like.
Q. In what ways are you giving back to the industry and society?
I’m giving back to society in ways that I know how at this point in my life--which is sharing knowledge and sharing my experience in life through social media. Blogging about ways of life, and hoping to change one person’s thought each day to that of positivity. I plan to also do a lot of charity work in the near future, and I have made a promise to my creator, that if my music Blows, part of the proceeds will go to helping people who are in need. That’s my goal.
Q. How do you manage job, music alongside the home.
Oh, that’s just so so tough, but, I enjoy it. I don’t know how, but I am kind of a multi-tasker. I just get everything organized first before embarking on any new project. Somehow, things just fit into place…
Thank you for this interview…Jah Bless