By Tony Ogaga
Model and former beauty queen, Chidinma Okeke, is determined to make her mark in the Nigerian music industry.
Signed to OUK Records, the Sociology undergraduate of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State, dropped her debut single, ‘Friends’ in May, and it has since been making waves.
In this chat with Entertainer, Okeke opens up on her career, dreams and plans to empower the girl child among other interesting issues.
What inspired your debut single, Friends and what has been the response?
Wow! Friends was inspired generally by what we go through in life, most especially our dealings with friends. It is also a message to people out there to be careful with people they call friends. Since it was released, the response has been mind-blowing. We have received a lot of positive reviews and a lot of people are interested in working with me.
How did music begin for you?
Growing up as a child, my biggest dream was to entertain people, do music and lots of good stuff in that direction. So, I would say the passion has been there since I was six-years-old or thereabout. As little as I was back then, I realised that my mum had a great voice and she would lead praise worship at home. So, I guess mum influenced me tremendously. And then, I would stand before the mirror presenting, dancing and entertaining my siblings and myself.
Tell us about growing up. Are you born with a silver spoon?
Hmmm… I am the last of six kids and growing up was nothing but sheer excitement and bliss. I want to thank God for that. I must confess that I am from a privileged background and never lacked anything. I attended the best of schools and my parents made sure my siblings and I had the very best. Because I was the last child, I was not brought up the way others were brought up. My parents pampered me a great deal because they gave birth to me at their old age. So, I had everything going for me. My elder brothers and sisters bought me stuff and everybody was always fusing over me and kind of did everything to make sure I was happy.
As an up and coming singer, what are your challenges?
The challenges are legion. I have to work on myself and keep trying to improve on my game, because this is a very tough industry. There are thousands of talented kids out there doing their stuff and hoping for that big break. There is a lot of competition and you have no choice but to always be on your feet. In this industry, the need to stand out and be unique cannot be over-emphasised. You need to keep improving with every performance. As a female artiste, you have to work 10 times harder than your male colleagues to be noticed.
When did you write your first song and what inspired it?
Wow! Shout out to my music producer, Dapiano. I wrote my first song this year and I did it with the help of my producer, and like I said earlier, it was borne out of my experiences.
As a student of Sociology, how do you balance your academics with your music career?
It could be hectic I must confess. But I have a very reliable team at OUK Records. They’ve got my back; they always have me covered.
You talk with so much intelligence and understanding. Do you have any political ambition?
I am not interested in politics. I don’t want to go there. It is very challenging. I would rather contribute to humanity through my pet project dedicated to empowering the girl child and liberating her from abuse and exploitation. I was in South Africa recently for a workshop that attracted NGOs from across Africa. It was targeted at the girl child. We had a meeting with a group of other NGOs. I intend to take that to the next level here in Nigeria in the nearest future. It is going to be a life long project. I am looking to build bridges along that line across Nigeria.
How do you feel getting signed to OUK Records?
I feel happy. OUK Records has been amazing. There is a non-disclosure clause in my contract, so the details of the contract are very confidential and not meant for newspaper pages.
You are a pretty girl. Which of your parents did you get your looks from?
Wow! You got me blushing there. Anyway, I think I look like the both of my parents, but I also look like my dad a lot. He is very tall and handsome, and I share a striking resemblance with my mum.
What is your advice for young women?
My advice is that they should be careful. In Africa, women are marginalised and not reckoned with. So, we should learn to fight for ourselves and what we want and what we stand for no matter what we are going through. Don’t give up on yourself no matter the challenges. Always try to look at the positive side of life. Don’t see the cup as half empty but as half full. Wear an aura of positivity around you and eschew negativism no matter how hard the storm is. Always know that, behind that dark cloud, there is a blessing and there is always hope; never give up on yourself.
What has been your happiest moment in the last five years?
That is whenever I meet the top artistes I have always dreamed of. I also love the feeling of being in the studio, working myself out and getting results. At the end of the day, when I get to meet the artistes, I am like ‘wow! I am getting there’ and that makes me very happy.
Where would we see you in the next five years?
Definitely at the peak of my career. I will be a successful graduate, a goodwill ambassador and philanthropist.