Young, talented and inspirational musician, Unoma Theresa Aniesi aka Tessy Aniesi is driven by a passion for the girl child, leading to the establishment of her NGO, Anam Transformation Movement.
In this interview, Aniesi shares her sojourn into the fiercely competitive Nigerian music industry and her mission to put a stop to child marriage in the country.
How has your musical journey been?
It has been tough. I have been doing music for 15 years. After my first album, I didn’t like how it turned out, so I decided to go into the business side of music to learn more. I did training in Sound Engineering. After that, I produced my second album, Solid Praise and the third, Abba Father. I am currently working on my 4th album, which boasts seven songs already. So far, the journey has been blissful, grace filled and challenging. If you are in this industry and you don’t have a mentor, things could be hard because talent is not enough. I have challenges of funding. Though, I have been getting support, not just from my parents, from my community in Anam as well. When I launched my first album in the village, people traveled all the way from Onitsha to support me. They contributed as little as they could. I made about N36,000 during the launching. Some elderly people trekked a long way to support me and even gave me their token.
Which of your songs gave you the needed breakthrough?
Abba Father shot me into the limelight. So far, I have worked with producers like Kingjoe, Ultrasound and many more.
How does inspiration come to you?
As a musician and humanitarian, I draw inspiration from the spirit realm. I pray a lot and I ask questions too. I ask God and the Holy Spirit questions, then the music drops.
Who are the musicians you see as role models?
The first person I see as my role model is Patty Obasi. He is very deep lyrically. His songs are evergreen. My fourth album would be out in 2021. I had planned it for this year but due to the pandemic, lots of my plans were truncated.
How would you say the pandemic has affected you and the industry generally?
Major sources of revenue for entertainers are live shows, and for now, no show; so it is affecting the industry a lot. CDs don’t sell as much as they used to. People now go online to download songs for free. It is affecting us all in terms of raising funds. We now have to fall back on other means to survive.
Tell us your biggest performance
I performed at a concert in St. Leo Catholic Church, Lagos in 2016. I performed with the likes of Frank Edwards and all. It was my biggest show ever.
Where do you see your brand in the next four years?
I want to make my life better in the coming years. I am not in competition with anybody. I want to make an impact starting with myself.
Who would you rate the best female musician in Africa?
I don’t see someone representing the core African sound. But I love what Angelique Kidjo is doing. She’s doing us proud worldwide.
Would you say being a female in the industry is an advantage?
Being a female in the entertainment industry is a disadvantage. The reason is that I am doing triple of what my male counterparts are doing to succeed. I do too much of work. I write songs, source for money, produce the songs, and then do the promo. This is despite the fact that I am married. Though, my husband is not in the industry, he has been very supportive. We have been married for two years.
Have you ever experienced sexual harassment?
No. Not at all!
Tell us more about your NGO
The NGO was formed when I was young, to stop child marriage in my town. In my village, Anam, we face the challenge of child marriage. For instance, a young girl of primary four is considered ripe for marriage. As a girl child, seeing my friend, crying and forcefully taken to a man’s house (for marriage) left me in pains. I could recall that at a point, we had to hide a girl who was then in primary four and who was about to be married off. It sounds so funny, but this is reality. I think lack of education and poverty is the cause of all this. And it’s still happening as I am talking to you. But then, that’s what my NGO, Anam Transformation Movement is all about. Before we kicked off the NGO fully, I remember raising money from some elites and going on a rescue mission of a girl child who was about to be forced into marriage. We gave the money to her parents, in order to rescue the girl. Till date, we still go on such rescue missions.