By Ope Akintayo
Growing up wasn’t easybecause I’m from a polygamous home. In fact, my father had three children from three different women including my mother in less than one week. My mother had eight of us but she did her best to provide for us almost like a single mother, especially after my father died. But then, she didn’t earn much and so we didn’t have enough most of the time.
My mother is late now and she taught me to be self sufficient. So, I’m satisfied with the little I have and do not need to make a fool of myself because of material things. I’m not greedy which is what drives most ladies into doing what they didn’t really want to do.
I always laugh when I read or hear some celebrities say that they’d been singing from their mothers’ womb. I remember that people loved hearing me sing. And that I joined the choir at age ten. At ten, I led the adult choir and people would clap and shout whenever I sang.
Yes, I knew I had an immense talent and wanted to be like Celine Dion, Maria Carey and Beyonce whose songs I love. But I knew I couldn’t achieve this back in Warri. So, I took a bold step and called up my manager Ena Ofugara and he signed me to a record label. Then, I released my debut album So Lovely which did quite well. I have since become independent. I’m on my own record label where I released my new album Now And Forever alongside my team.
If you ask if I knew I would do music, I would say yes, I knew I would do music and at the same time, I would say no, because I wasn’t too sure. My first love is acting. I wanted to act and I am into my third role already. Like now, I am somewhere in Ogun State, on set of a TV series. But back then, everyone who heard me sing, encouraged me to take it as an option.
I remember that my mother would tell me that “ Tsema (I am Itsekiri and it is pronounce Shema), this your noise for this house, hope you go carry am go outside oh! No be only me you go disturb”. So now, I have taken it outside.
And like I did to my mother, I am disturbing not just Nigeria but the diaspora as well.Honestly, breaking into the Nigerian music industry was easy for me.
I got signed-on as soon as I arrived Lagos and my first single, Lover And Friend was almost produced for free. The song ranked number one at almost all stations. However, I was doing R & B which was ahead of its time back in 2007.
But I am glad that Banky W and Darey Art Alade have joined me in trying to make this universal genre our very own. In fact, Banky W especially has been very successful in this quest. I hope he pushes it further. Right now, I’ m working on something with 2face, as well as Yahweh and Now And Forever.
My song with Adol, I Know, was up for an award in New York and I’ m supposed to have launched my album here in Lagos and in Warri but the marketer I was working with totally messed up our agreement and wasted my time. God dey sha!
Now And Forever is due to be out this month . It features 2face, Rymzo, Adol , Brace, Longjohns, LKT, and others. And since I am from Warri, I definitely will be going home to do the launch especially as I dedicated the album to the Olu of Warri Ogiame Atuwatse 11. A lot of people always wonder why I dedicated the album to the Olu. And I always tell them that even in all of our borrowing of the Western culture et al, we must hold firmly to some things and one of them is our traditional institution.
Although I cannot even speak Itsekiri fluently, I have two songs in the language on the album. I know where I am from and that I choose to respect my Olu. My most embarrassing moment was at an event at Oniru beach. My zipper broke in the shorts I was performing with.
As I professional, I continued with the show but I was so embarrassed. I have had some bitter-sweet experiences. I saw a movie “Back To The Future”. In that movie, Michael J. Fox played the lead. Anytime he tried to think about his bad past, things went worse.
So I sincerely believe that whatever road I passed and whatever mistake I made were all what has turned Tsema into Fragrance, a girl on the brink of serious international music success. I must take the bitter alongside the sweet and look forward with faith. I do not dwell on my past but I’m grateful that I made some mistakes. Yes, I believe in love. What love means to me is what Jesus has for me. But someday, it would include what I would feel for a particular person and what that person would feel for me. And together, we will make a home. But for now, God is love. There have been times things were so bad that I felt like quitting. Often times, the feeling of frustration comes in and you want to pack up and leave. But the talent is strong. When you listen to words of encouragement, you hold tenaciously on to your heart that your time will come.
Yes, I have had moments of sexual harrassment. Men would do anything to sleep with a star. And I think it has something to do with their ego because they know she’ll add to their prestige.
Fame attracts. It never drives people away. So I handle men like every girl who tries her best to be a good and decent young woman. But right now, I’m not really into any serious relationship. Nobody Holy Pass oh, but I try to be a good girl.
However, a few untruths can be said here and there but soon they find out it is not true. Nobody is free of scandals. The press has been kind to me. Nobody is ready for marriage until he/she meets a man or woman who sweeps them off their feet. So I’m not ready for marriage.