14th November, 2014
Ever since singer Chidinma Ekile rose to stardom after winning the third season of MTN Project Fame West Africa in 2010, she has become unstoppable in the Nigerian music scene. In this interview with MOTUNRAYO IDRIS, the 23-year-old MTN ambassador and KORA award winner in the Best Female West African Act category, is not resting on her oars as she relives her Project Fame experience and why she is taking her time before releasing her second album
If Project Fame West Africa hadn’t given you the opportunity, do you think you will be where you are today?
I don’t think so. I won’t even be anywhere close.
Why did you say so?
It is simply because I had never wanted to do music. I never thought of music. As a matter of fact, that year’s Project Fame was my first ever competition. I have never taken part in any competition in my life.
But your performance during the show was very fascinating and you came out tops. What really motivated you?
The truth is that, I was just myself. I can’t really point to anything as I wasn’t having that spirit of competition. I never knew what a competition was like. That period was my first time of seeing people with different characters, beliefs and so on. It was a very interesting period and was fascinated by those new faces around me.
So you were not thinking of winning?
Trust me, I wasn’t thinking of winning not to talk of the prize money.
What kind of relationship did you have with other Project Fame winners?
It was a very good and cordial relationship. Since then everyone has been busy trying to become a better artiste post-Project Fame. We don’t get to see or talk all the time but any time we do, we share memories.
So far, it is just a few of you Project Fame winners that are doing well in the industry. What do you think could be responsible for this?
I can’t tell you the reasons for that but I have done a song with Monica, who won right after me. I encourage others and share my experience as well as advise them on what to do and how to do it.
Before the competition in 2010, you were a member of your church (Foursquare Gospel Church) choir. Are you still in the choir now that your level has changed?
Yes, I am still in the choir.
How do you combine church activities with your music career?
I am a very active member of my church choir. But when I have rehearsals and shows, I do excuse myself from practices to join them later and they understand. Despite that I can’t be there every time, I make sure I make it up whenever I can. The truth is I just can’t stop being a member of that choir. Apart from loving it, it is my little way of giving back to God.
What was the reaction of your pastor to some of the secular songs like Emi Ni Baller?
I am so thankful to God for the kind of pastor I have. He doesn’t condemn me, instead he encourages me. He tells you to do what you think is right. As a matter of fact, I am close to him. I make sure I inform him of my movement and activities; and he prays for me. The most important thing is you should do what is right even in your closet.
It has been a while since you released your debut album, why is it taking you so long to release the second album?
Many people have been asking me that question too but just expect my album very soon. My last album was in 2010 so it has been a while. But the wait will be worth the while as it is all for good. I always want to give my best and that is the reason I had to slow down. But the good news is that the album is ready.
What should your fans expect from the new work?
They should expect the good and everything nice that Chidinma has to offer. The album will be a different part of me. It has about 12 tracks. In it, I was just pouring out my mind but trust me, it is going to be a bomb. It is going to be better than Emi Ni Baller.
What is the title of the album?
I am yet to give it a title. I am always very experimental with titles. I always look for the best word to suit my album. I want something weird. Something that will sound odd and people will ask what kind of title is it.
Many people believe Chidinma of Project Fame has changed to something else. What can you say of this new perception?
I think people misunderstand so many things or rather mix things up. I have heard a lot of people describing me as that good girl gone bad. But really they are wrong. The truth is that I am just like every other person that has grown. Many of these wrong perceptions started after the release of Emi Ni Baller video. My acts in the video made people perceive me wrongly. But of course, I am an entertainer and had to pass the message of my song across. So, there was no other way I would have done that video. I was just expressing what the song is all about. I can’t be stereotyped as I have grown. Project Fame was in 2010 and from then till now, it’s been a long time. I have seen new things, gone to different places, met with people, and all this put together has changed a lot of things. So they shouldn’t expect that young Chidinma they know four years ago. I am growing and so they are.
How true is the story that you and Adams of Soundcity are dating?
I think the public has given me so many boyfriends. The truth of the matter is that Adams is my friend. We have been friends for a long time and it is normal for people to attach something to it, most especially when it is a relationship between the opposite sex. I have so many other male friends. Dammy Krane is a very good friend of mine and so many others I can’t mention. But I have realised that all these stories are part of what we deal with in show business. It is what I have signed up for and have to live it.
But are you seeing anyone now?
No, I am not. I am not even in any relationship except you are going to match make me with someone.
You were at a time a student of the Nigerian Institute of Journalism. Why didn’t you complete your programme?
I didn’t run from that school as I have heard some people accuse me of that. Yes, I started a programme there, but at a time, it became very hectic for me as lectures were always clashing with my other activities. Let me just say I wasn’t ready then. I have always wanted to do broadcasting and of course that dream is still there. I will definitely go back there but right now, I am a student of the University of Lagos. I am in my second year.