By Ogbonna Amadi Entertainment Editor
This irrepressible diva who began her singing career in 1999 with the Zuma Rock Band in Sheraton Hotel in Abuja, went solo in November 2001 with the release of her first single ‘Oluronbi’ which featured Fuji Star Pasuma Wonder.
With her lingual dynamism comes the advantage of singing in English, Yoruba and Igbo as well as the Nigerian Pidgin English.
The release of her third single ‘Jebele’ in June 2007, resulted in a giant leap and this attracted Soundcity Music Video Award for Best Female Video 2008 as well as ‘Best Highlife Music Video’ at Nigerian Music Video Awards (NMVA) 2008.
Prior to the NMVA Award, the single ‘Jebele’ was nominated for Best Picture, Best Edited Video, Best Overall Music Video, Best Picture and Best highlife, a testimony of its exceptional quality.
In this interview with Saturday Vanguard, Kween opens up on her love life and how the simple gesture of offering his jacket on a night she was cold at an event and more was all it took for her husband to win her heart. She also shares her frustration and experience in today’s music industry.
With two new videos ‘Playa’ and ‘Gold Digger’ rocking the industry, the Umuahia, Abia State- born Kween also talkes about her new album titled Kweendoncom.
I’m surprised! You are so homely and really acting the mother…
Yes. That’s what I am. I’m a mom, wife, career woman, sister and a friend to my husband and to my family.
You are even talking about dinner…
Yes, I make breakfast, lunch and dinner. I enjoy cooking.
So you don’t let other persons get into the kitchen?
I don’t have a house help.
I enjoy doing things myself . I’m very domesticated and when I was growing up, we didn’t have house helps. We always did things ourselves and I’m used to that. And the situation is still within what I can manage. So I don’t see the need for house helps.
So how do you cope with being a mother and an artiste?
If you see me out there, that’s because you’ve never had an opportunity of seeing me elsewhere, like in my environment or what I’m doing. At home , I do everything I ought to do in the house.
And being a celebrity doesn’t affect your relationship with people?
It doesn’t. I’m just me and not two separate people. So what you see outside is still what you’d see inside.
Your husband must very lucky to have you?
We’re both lucky to find each other.
How did he do it?
It was nothing supernatural, it was just meant to be. That we’d meet, fall in love and get married.
What did he say to you the first time you met?
(Laughs). He said all kind of things some of which I can’t really remember. But I think the major thing I can hold on to is that we were seated on a table together at an event and I was cold. He took off his jacket and gave it to me.
Where did that happen?
Here in Nigeria.
And you’d never met before?
That was the first time he met me. We sat on the same table and he noticed I was cold and he offered me his jacket
And what did you say to him?
I thanked him.
Did you take the jacket home?
No, I didn’t take it home. I gave it back
And he took your number?
No, we didn’t exchange numbers but we met again at different times
So when it clicked, what did he say to you?
He was just being nice the first day and our parts crossed so many times afterwards.
What was the most important thing you found interesting in him?
He’s very humble, kind and a great guy who’s got a good aura around him.
And he never complained about your kind of person and profession?
No. He knows I’m a good person. And he’s found goodness in me.
Did he find it difficult getting to understand the kind of person you are?
Well, it’s a man’s job to chase, so he played that part.
Did you give him any hard time?
I never thought it would end up this way. Of course, I gave him a hard time.
And there was nobody in your life at the time he came?
No there was no one.
What did he say to you on your first date?
I don’t remember
So how does your family react whenever they see you on T.V?
I guess they like it and it makes them happy. They usually call each other and they all watch me.
Your father and uncle were strict persons. How were they able to handle all those sexiness on T.V?
Sexiness doesn’t hurt because I’m working and it’s my career to be on T.V and off T.V. There’s nothing wrong with that. I don’t have to be what my uncle or father were because I have my part in life
Does music run in your family?
It runs in the family. But unfortunately it was practised only in Church. No one ever took it outside that circle.
And you were involved in the Church thing too?
Yes, I was. I was in the Choir in the local Church back in Abeokuta where I grew up.
So when did you start music professionally?
When I left high school, I joined a band called the The Zuma Rocks Band and that’s where I turned professional. I was with the band for four years and it got to a point where I knew I had to fall out and step up my game.
Before you went professional, you must have had an experience as a singer…
Not much, I must confess. From the Church, I remember that I used to be very crazy about Toni Braxton. I knew all her songs and used to pretend to be her. I used to go to the parks with my sister and we would sing and record some of her songs. So, that’s how it started and gradually my love for music just grew.
I kept writing songs and went to the studio to record and produce the songs. It was after that I went to Abuja.
And while I was there, I was doing more of foreign songs. But I didn’t see it taking me anywhere because I needed to be original. And that’s when I sat back and decided to follow another part. And the result of that little research is my style of music which I call traditional soul music.
How many people helped you in building up your career?
So many people have been very supportive in my career. All of them have given me their support
You dropped a single before leaving Nigeria…
Yes, it was Oluronbi. It was my first single which I featured Pasuma
It was a hit but you didn’t follow up on that
No, it’s not as if I didn’t want to follow up. It’s just that things happen in your life and you never know when it’ll come and you’ll have to go with the flow. So I travelled just shortly after that song
So what happened in your life?
Great things happened
And you disappeared from the scene for a while?
It wasn’t as if I disappeared. It was just a case of being somewhere else. You may say I relocated for a while.
You went to London. And what were you doing to survive?
Yes I went to London and was doing some personal things which gave me enough funds to live and survive on for the period of time I spent there.
And you ran into J.J.C?
Oh yes. I met them at a studio in England. I met J.J.C, D’banj, Don Jazzy, Dr.Sid and Weird M.C.
Music brings you together wherever you find yourself. And you meet people who do the same thing. So I’d found my way to the studio because had recommended the place. So, it was a great union
Were you signed on to JJC’s Backbone records?
No I wasn’t but I worked with them extensively
I preformed and recorded with them and when they came home the first time to Nigeria, I was part of the team.
And what happened after that…?
No it was never my intention to get signed on to their label. I was just cool with providing back up support for the group and doing one or two other things with them.
And it took a while before you came out with Come With Me?
That song was not recorded for any label. It was done on my private label. I worked with them on the project and the song was co-produced by J.J.C and Don Jazzy.
It was your first ever album?
Yes. That was my first ever album
And it took a very long time before it was finally released?
Yes, it took too long
And now your second album has also taken a long time…?
It’s taking me this long because of motherhood, beside, I suffered one or two setbacks
What were the challenges?
One of the challenges is that here in Nigeria, the structures aren’t in place. And before now, it was very difficult for female artistes to survive. We didn’t have same opportunities like our male counterparts.
We worked and try so hard but we get pushed off in the end, so it was really frustrating.
Another challenge was finance and this came at the later part of my career. The fees of producers were so high and one had to pay before work started. I had to go back and work for more money so I could pay a producer to help bring out my works.
And sometimes, you have great songs but you’re not given shows and the platform to exhibit your talents. People would rather want you to do free shows. And at a point, I wanted to give up.
But then, whenever you go out, you meet people who say they love your work and even the kids love to sing your songs. In spite of the challenges, I told myself that I can do it. So I kept pushing and the result is what you have been listening to, my kind of music.
So you have a new job in the market right now?
Yes and its a 14 track album plus two remixed versions off my hit single Jebele.
Are you signed on to a label now?
I’m doing it on my own because the structures are not still not in place. I’m financing myself and pushing it all alone. It’s really hectic.
The two videos you have on air must have cost you a lot of money?
They did cost me a lot of money and swept clean my account. The last video Player, shot by Clarence Peters. I had like 10 dancers and prior to the recording, we were rehearsing everyday for more than two weeks. I had to pay rehearsals fees, designer costumes, make up kits and all of that. It was really expensive shooting that video.
So how do you go about with marketing the album since you don’t have a label?
It’s crazy. I’m working with Obaino records in Alaba market. All he does is just produce the album and when people want to buy, they go to him and we share the money. He is not really helping push the album especially in the area of publicity. I am handling all of that myself.