24th September, 2012
Crossover Nollywood actress, Imelda Ada Okwori, who has featured in movies such as Law Abiding, Santana Ladies, Wedding Gifts and Alekwu Kidoma speaks about her new love for music, life and other issues.
You recently claimed to have started music from your mommy’s womb, why did you decide to combine this with your acting career?
Yes, this is because my mom also sings and growing up with her was fun. She encouraged me to write songs at a very tender age for weddings, send-off parties and all that. She also taught me how to dance different styles of our cultural music because she had a dancing troupe she formed in her secondary school days. We usually sit back in those days to sing and record Christmas carols and all that. She bought the entire local musical instruments and so I grew up with these.
That is quite interesting. Then tell us about your mom?
She is Mrs. Florence Okwori, a lovely and caring mom and fun to be with, but disciplined. She is now a chief nursing officer. She couldn’t fulfil her dream of taking the music game to the top. But whenever we are all gathered at home, we still do the carol stuff every evening. She is strongly behind my music career. She gives me all the necessary support I need.
What do you think is the cause of her dropping her first choice?
In Benue State, music was not encouraging then; especially if you are a female act, but she took it to the top at her own level. I can remember an elderly man, who happens to be one of her primary school teachers, once called me and gave me an old almanac printed in black and white, and he said, ‘my daughter here is your mom with her dance troupe, you look so much like her’. And I was very proud of her. Till now, the music industry over there is still coming up, unlike the eastern and western parts of the country Nigeria. I pray that things will take shape with time.
Can you tell us at least one or two acts of the same calibre with her?
The only one I can remember is the likes of MC AKATU. Though he is older than my mom. I think 2face always make references to him.
So how did you get the passion from your mom?
Like I said, she would encourage me to write songs for different occasions and teach me some dance steps, I loved every step of it and each time I did so well, she always proud of me. I just love it when I am able to put a smile on somebody’s face during and after my performances.
Back then it was live band.
Band? How do you mean?
Yes, live band. That is, they have to play a live instrument while you sing on stage.
As at then, I never thought of going over to the studio.
How was the journey from genesis?
During my primary school, precisely primary five, when I now joined Catholic English Choir, I could remember vividly that I was initially asked to join the junior choir but the choir master was somehow interested in the fact that I summoned the courage to join the senior choir and so he asked me to sing. I sang the soprano and alto part.
But he said he loved the way I delivered the alto and they didn’t have alto singers so much as at then. So he gave me the opportunity to join the senior choir. You need to see me then. I was glad. Soon after that, I left for secondary school.
It was an all girls’ school and also a Catholic school. I enjoyed all the musical activities so much and most times, I will be given one position of responsibility or the other in the school choir. After my secondary school, I used part of my first school fees, which I was supposed to use for my tertiary institution, to buy a keyboard. After being reprimanded by my parents, I was given another one. To cut the long story short, I saw myself going deeper all the way and here I am today.
Musically, was it very rosy for you like it is in the movie industry?
No way. It was full of ups and downs. The only things that kept me moving was God, the passion and the support I get from my family and the very few people that believe in my dream. It was not easy at all.
So what has been the challenge so far?
Like I said, it’s not an easy race at all. You know the first thing is to have the talent. Another thing is to get a good sponsor. And as a lady, it is very difficult to get a sponsor. I have never come across a female investor so far, but most of the male investors often get carried away with emotions instead of the business. Music business is a very serious one but it is quite unfortunate that very few investors are interested in it, maybe because the market is very porous for now. I feel so sad when most men think they cannot contribute to my dream unless I date them.
I feel so sad when most men feel they cannot be able to contribute to my dream unless I have sex with them. And because of such, the very few good ones that will decide to be part of the people to build my dreams are often misunderstood by the bad ones. So you will get to hear false rumour and all that. It’s quite unfortunate. My bitter experiences so far are many and I would love other female upcoming acts to learn from it so that they won’t get fooled and discouraged.
So how were you able to control that?
I can remember I did my album launch two years ago and it was graced by my state Governor, the Deputy Governor, the incumbent Interior Minister and a host of others. Very many people would be wondering why I have not made it to the top in music by now. You would indeed be wondering why. I am going to open up on this very issue sooner than you expect, but definitely not now.
Most times, I wonder if being a woman is a crime but I still thank God that He is there for me. I have fallen prey to some groups of 419 in the industry. Most of such people will come to you with all sorts of lies.
Among the groups, you will see DJs that actually work on air, video directors, dancers, marketers with offices at Alaba, etc. But thank God for the support of AGO CONCEPTS, a subsidiary of gbolahanadetayo’s blog owned by Gbolahan Adetayo, it is an artistes and personnel managing company which helps upcoming acts to fulfil their dreams. Under, it we have the likes of Benita Nzeribe, Lizzy Anjorin, Uche Iwuji and so on. The company has been of great blessing to me too and we are still moving on to higher heights.
Musically what are you up to now?
I just released my four new singles titled GO AHEAD produced by Fliptyce, LOVE MAGIC, FOSOKE produced by Wispa, and FOSOKE video which was directed by an award winning director Flosmith.
I really thank God because my expectation for the video was met. There were a lot of challenges as usual but the end was fantastic. Also I added SHOW ME video produced by K-solo and I featured Side1 on that track.
We had some issues with the SHOW ME video. Some bad ‘belles’ tried all they could to act fast last year so I tried to put the promo on hold but irrespective of that, it still won an award last year.
When will the album be released?
Before the end of this year. I am working very hard to make sure I get the best, which was the reason why I decided to put up a personal studio.
I cannot say when exactly because I have a couple of projects coming up under my company (Effito Koncept) and it is going to be taking most of my time.
We are working on Idoma Music Talent Hunt which is already in the pipeline, and shortly after that, the Benue Talent Unmasked will be coming up. These are all time-consuming and it deserves a whole lot of sacrifice, but I pray God to give me the strength because I would love to see to it that the album drops before the year runs out.
Could you tell us more about yourself?
I am the second child of a family of four and first daughter. I am from Benue State, Idoma, to be precise and I am a product of the Federal University of Agriculture where I read Science Education. I am an actress, but now showcasing my talent in music.