1st March, 2013
Ure Okezie, better known as Queen Ure, is an ex-banker, singer, life coach and songwriter. The former wife of hip-hop musician, Soul E, released her debut album, Porpori last September and recently shot the video of Get Down, one of the tracks in her 15-track album. She tells NEHRU ODEH about her music career, debut album and her future projects
How did you start your music career?
I have always been into music. Music is not a new thing to me at all. I have always been in the choir as a lead singer from childhood. As a teenager, I used to back up Panam Percy Paul, the renowned gospel artiste. And I have always been a songwriter. Though I didn’t do music professionally, I was busy doing other things. But I knew that I would definitely record some of these songs that I have been writing over the years. Though my album contains most of the songs I just wrote. Most of the other ones are just there because the songs always come.
Why did it take you so long to release an album?
I was busy doing other things such as banking and coaching.
Now that you are a musician, any regrets about not being an artiste before now?
None. It is not about when you started, it is how relevant you are. I am glad that am doing this. There are people who are so talented and they never get to do anything with their talents in life. And a lot of people start their music careers in their early 30s and even late teens, while some continue, others drop along the way. The most important thing is to be relevant in whatever you are doing. I have started and it is not anything I can stop. The good thing about music is that even when you are 70, you can still sing, you can still come out with an album. Singing is not like football that when the bones are weak, you retire. When you are 80, you can still sing. I have started and it is something I will continue to do.
Many have the impression that you are not cut out for music, that maybe you are just gatecrashing into it. Some believe you should have just kept to your banking career. How do you react to that?
That is just their opinion. People always have opinions about others. In fact, if you leave people, they would lead others’ lives for them. I am excited doing what I do. Music comes naturally. It is not something you force yourself to do. If you have the talent, you have the talent. It is easier for me to do this thing and I have always wanted to do it anyway. I still do a lot of corporate things. I am a life coach. I was trained both as personal coach and a corporate coach at the Coaching Academy in the United Kingdom. I will be doing some training next week; I facilitate for some consulting companies in three major areas. I learnt a lot during those years I spent in the banking industry; things like being disciplined and to being goal-oriented. I love my life exactly the way it is.
Why did you title your debut album Porpori?
Porpori is an expression of excitement. The song there is: Body dey do me porporpori anytime I see you. There is too much sadness and gloom out there. People should focus on the things that make them feel good and happy. Porpori is the title of one of the songs in the album. I decided to make it the title of the album because I love the porpori feeling.
Can you name other tracks on the album?
There are songs such as A Better Place, Get Down, A Better Tomorrow, You Do It Right, I Found Love and Only You. The album is a medley of various genres– R& B, reggae, highlife, gospel etc.
You exhibit some dancing skills in the Porpori video. How did you develop those skills?
Everybody dances. Dancing comes naturally to me, though I would say I am not a professional dancer. Dancing comes with the rhythm of the song
What inspired the track, A Better Place?
The song is saying we can all live better lives. Things can be better if we choose. So the song is just telling us that we are one, no matter what language we speak, our class and level of education, we are one and we can support one another. And we all want to make the world a better place
Do you write your songs? And how do you get your inspiration?
I wrote all the songs on my album. The songs come, depending on my mood. I can be sad and then a sad song will just come, just as I can be happy and a happy song will come. Somebody can just call you and tell you how much he loves you and then you are inspired to write a love song. So, my songs come with the happenings around.
How long did it take you to produce the album?
None of the songs I did before last June are on the album. All the songs were produced between last June and September. I released the album last September. So, all the songs were produced within that period.
You have been a banker for more than a decade and now you are switching over to the music industry. How do you hope to switch from the corporate world to the Bohemian life of artistes?
I have already done that.
Don’t you feel you are entering into a new world?
It is not a new world for me. I have always been a music person. My family and I have always been in the music world. My brothers grew up being entertainment people. I still fit very perfectly into that world. I remember when I was still a banker. I used to do some acting. Though I am not an actress and I don’t really intend to get into that, but I had to do that because the person who was supposed to take the role withdrew and I was asked to replace her. Somehow, people have always tried to draw me into music. I believe if you have the talent, you should not waste it. I did well as a banker and I am also a talented singer. Why should I allow that God-given talent to waste. Success is just about action and focus. There are people who love to sing, but if they are not focused, they won’t make anything out of it. Whether you are in the entertainment or corporate world, success is all about what you are passionate about and staying focused. And if you just decide to run into music when you don’t have the talent and passion, if money is not coming in, you will run out. But if it is something that you have a passion for, that you love to do, it won’t be all about money. You can see what we are doing. I believe in excellence, in doing things well, in producing my songs well because if you do your stuff excellently, success is guaranteed.
Now you are shooting the video of Get Down, one of the tracks on your album. Could you tell us what the song is about?
It is a party song. When you hear the words ‘get down’, you know they are telling you to go and rock or groove. It is a song basically telling people to forget their sorrows and tomorrow and to get down and celebrate. Be happy. The message there is: C’mon celebrate life, get down and enjoy.
Of these three professions–banking, coaching and music– which of these is your first love?
Under what genre can we classify your style of music?
I don’t restrict myself. Whenever the inspiration comes, I will just sing. That is why in my album there is R&B, highlife, gospel and party songs. I am just letting it flow. I am not going to tell you I sing R&B, highlife or gospel.
Last year you posted some very personal information about yourself on your Facebook wall, which created a stir. Why did you do that?
It was just a passing thought. I just put down what was on my mind at a time. Before I could blink, the thing was everywhere. I had to remove that post from my Facebook wall because it became another thing all together. It was just something that just crossed my mind and I put it down, just like any other person would do. And I think it was misunderstood and overblown.
You stirred some interest given your celebrity status…
I am just myself. I am not a secretive person. And I am not an underground person. So that is why I didn’t think of the repercussion of posting such.
Many see you as religious, given the fact that you worship at the Household of God Church and you once had a church known as Love Villa. Now, you are into secular music. Don’t you see this as a contradiction?
I am a very spiritual person and not necessarily religious. They are two different things. I am still a church person. I go to church every Sunday and Wednesday. I am always there at every opportunity I have to worship. I am still very much that way. I think people are just being pretentious and the way they understand religion and spirituality is different from the way I understand it because the same people who worship in church are the same people who would have birthday parties and play all the other songs of the street and dance. And God is all of these things. He is with us in our home, in the personal relationship with our spouses. The fact that someone is singing a love song or a romantic song doesn’t make the person less spiritual. I think people go too far trying to distinguish the kind of music one is playing. You don’t have a gospel actor. There are so many actors who are atheists but they will play roles as workers in churches whenever occasion demands. Putting one in a box is the way it has been, but that is not the way I wanted it to be. I don’t have to follow the crowd or the way you were taught. I am just doing my thing the way I see it. I have got some gospel songs, but that does not mean I can’t sing a love song or a general song because I am living a normal life.
You have been in some relationships which didn’t work. Any regret about the past?
None at at all because whatever God allows in my life is for a purpose. The Bible says in all things give thanks. You can’t be giving thanks and be regretting at the same time; those are two different languages and two different things. It is either you are giving thanks or you are complaining. I am giving thanks for everything. No matter what it is, God will always turn it around for my good.
Are you into a relationship?
The truth is even if I am, I would not tell you. I am not. But any time I get into one–let me tell you– I have already decided that I will not say anything before you press people will now come and put your hand inside the matter.
After this album, what next?
Well I am making my video. I am also starting the Queen Ure Fan Club. I am working on it at the moment, the registration and other things. It is going to be a very interesting club. For all those who love my music and who love me, we are going to be visiting the less privileged and motherless babies’ homes. We are equally going to be having talent hunt just to encourage the young and upcoming artistes.