By Lolade Sowoolu
Sheâ€™s Kingsley Ogoroâ€™s little niece whostarted plotting her musical career quite early in life. Eva has rocked big stages and thrilled a lot of people.
Her two most popular videos are â€˜No Cryâ€™ and â€˜My Jungleâ€™. Finally ready with her debut album, Eva tells Lolade Sowoolu of the ugly accident that crushed her voice box and the divine visit that saved her life. Enjoy.
How much influence does your biological origin have on your musical career?
Entertainment in my family didnâ€™t start with Kingsley. My grandmother (his mother) was a singer and song writer in the village then.
My dad is also a singer, a gospel singer and leads the family band called Emonela Gospellers. Emonela is his middle name So, I guess music entertainment has always been in our family.
Were youÂ once part of a group?
Yes, I was an alto singer.
You were introduced to music quite early?
Yes, very early. I started at a pretty young age. I watched a lot of Whitney Houstonâ€™s musical videos and live performances as a child. And I must confess she was the strongest influence when I was young. I wanted to be that kind of person I saw on TV and so started training myself to sing.
How active was the family band?
It started late in 1994 and we have two albums to our credit. But I dropped out of the band because I had an accident in 1997. It was a very terrible car accident that paralyzed me and my voice box was crushed.Â I couldnâ€™t talk or sing and my trachea was really narrowed. In fact, it was a challenge to breathe at a point. So, I had to retire early from the band to work on myself. A year later, I came back.
Did you have live performances as a band?
We did but it was mostly outside of Lagos. On the day of the accident, we were coming back from a performance in Benin.
Where did the accident happen?
It was on Ore road. We were on top speed when one of the front tyres burst. The car went into a somersault and landed on the side I was seated. It slid towards a gully and a tiny shrub stopped the vehicle that had me, my dad, three children and the driver.
Mum was fortunate because she was home. But the unfortunate thing was that I was the only one that sustained serious injuries.
My dad had a small wound; my sister a small cut on her forehead and my brother had a fractured wrist. The driver had no injuries. I was the one that everything fell on.
When did this accident happen?
It happened 10 years ago.
When you realised you were the only one hurt, what went through your mind?
I really donâ€™t know. I was scared throughout the time. And the irony of it was that, where I sat, my sister and I fought for the space earlier.
So, when we ended up in the hospital and they discharged everybody but said I couldnâ€™t go, I became alarmed. By this time, my neck was swollen and I couldnâ€™t swallow anything.
I was scared not just because I was in the hospital but because my trachea had closed completely and I couldnâ€™t breathe.
I tried to get the attention of one of the nurses but they just passed me by and waved at me thinking I was waving hello. I became desperate and had to grab one of them. That effort almost had me tumbling out of the bed.
And when she realised something was wrong, I was rushed into an emergency room. For resuscitation, the water tank was empty. So, they sent for an extra and that also turned out to be empty.
The suction machine couldnâ€™t provide relief as the switch was bad and needed the attention of an electrician.
Efforts to get the electrician also failed as the guy was said to have travelled to his village. It was like the devil was determined to see me die.
Somehow, a particular Dr. Savior showed up and smiled while the nurses were busy running around. He asked me, â€˜do you want to die?â€™
In my mind, I felt it was a stupid question. He just tapped me on my cheek and I donâ€™t really know what he did. But when he left, my breathing normalised and one month after, I was discharged.
On the day I was leaving the hospital, I asked for the Dr. Savior and they said nobody like that worked in the hospital. Even my effort at describing him failed to provide answers.
My mum described the situation as divine visitation and maybe that was it.
When you remember the accident, how do you feel?
First, what doesnâ€™t kill you makes you stronger. The worst times in my life had been the when I decided that music was it. Times when I conditioned my mind that music was my destiny, my calling and my future. When I am into something, I make it happen.
And when something bad or scary happens, I just see it as an affirmation that this is where I am meant to be. If you are going to be an ambassador of change for your generation and generation to come, you are not going to sit down and have your hands folded.
So, every time I consider a 9 to 5 job, my mind goes back to the accident
The scariestÂ part of that experience for me was not even the paralysis but that I couldnâ€™t sing and that I fractured my cervic bone. I couldnâ€™t stand or walk for sometime.
I was in the hospital for a couple of months in Igbobi Hospital I guess God has a bigger plan for me because being in an accident is just one of the many bad things that happened to me. I have been robbed on several occasions.
I have had several freak accidents. Another of the many accidents I had was when I was serving in Zamfara State. I was going to the church on an Okada and this kid just ran into the centre of the road and stood there.
The bike hit the child and I literally flew. By the time I landed, the bike still had a piece of my clothing. So, as the bike was skidding off the road and I was dragged along. And that accident gave me this scar. That happened two years ago.
The same year, I was robbed in a cab on my way to Abuja. I was leaving that morning for Lagos. So, I took a cab and unknown to me, there was a guy in the boot. I put my stuffÂ in the back seat and sat in front. I didnâ€™t know Abuja at all. ButÂ I knew the road the guy branched into wasnâ€™t the one that leads to the park.
Funny enough, one cab stopped earlier but I felt he was young. So, when I saw the elderly man on the steering,Â I felt safe. So, I hailed the taxi.
He was quite nice but few minutes after heâ€™d picked me, heÂ pulled over, and the guy in the boot jumped out. They attacked me and kept asking, â€˜whereâ€™s the money?â€™ and I was like â€œI donâ€™t have any money, Iâ€™m a corper.â€
They punched the day light out of me and believing I didnâ€™t have any money, they kicked me out of the car and drove off with all my stuff. Luckily for me, my dad was in Abuja and he gave me some money to continue my journey. The only thing I had on me when I returned to Lagos was just the shirt on me.
How long have you been playing music professionally?
Since my University days, and thatâ€™s about seven years ago.
Did the accident have any impact on your voice?
Funny enough, my voice is a natural and plain good singing voice. But the accident added some character to it. Now itâ€™s a bit husky and it was never that way before the accident.
The name Ogoro?
Itâ€™s a bitter- sweet name. Kingsley Ogoro is known in the movie industry and to an extent, it did open doors for me. I mean, he would call some people and say, â€˜I have a niece who sings wellâ€™ and Iâ€™d go. But some people would not call me for obvious reasons. So, itâ€™s been a bitter-sweet thing.
Whatâ€™s been your experience in the industry?
Itâ€™s been tough. Everyday, you put on your radio and you hear new sounds, new artists and itâ€™s all so pretty tough. Everybodyâ€™s trying to keep their heads above water.
Everyone seems to be going in one particular direction.
I got talking to a marketer not too long ago and when I played the trackÂ â€˜No Cryâ€™, he said the song was nice but wondered why it was not so fast. I took my CD and left.Â So, itâ€™s like everybody is expecting a Dâ€™banj or a Timaya kind of thing out of every artiste.
Are you planning to align your music with the popular ones?
I probably might just do one or two tracks that will appeal to the general public but I wonâ€™t change my sound. When you run with the herd, you could get lost in them. You have to be distinct.
My song is pretty commercial and the messages are pretty simple. The language is mainly pidgin English. My album has just three English tracks and they are thirteen tracks in all. The album is titled â€˜Shades of Greyâ€™
Why Shades of Grey?
I have come to understand that life is not always black and white, itâ€™s not always good or bad, happy or sad, there are some grey areas. Sometimes when you are stuck, where you are and not where you want to be, you are just somewhere in the middle. You have all the money in the world but you are not happy. you are talented but you are not successful.
So, the album touches on these grey areas. It will be out before the months runs out.
Your spot low-cut . Why?
This is the fault of Ireti Doyle and Bobby Eke. She was starting a new segment on her show Oge and coincidentally at the time I was also thinking of shooting â€˜My Jungleâ€™ video.
So I walked up to her and said, â€˜Aunt Ireti, I need a new lookâ€™ she said, â€˜Iâ€™ll like to see you bald. I was â€˜hell no, you ainâ€™t seeing me bald.â€™
I went to Bobby and he said the same thing too. And before I knew it, they put a clipper to my head and zoom, the hairs were off and they splashed in a little bit of gold to make me feel better and thatâ€™s how the cut came about.
When was that?