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Sunday, October 24, 2010


Uwalejemitawale Agbealeaghan Okoro, popularly known as Essence, has been in the music industry for many years. She obtained a degree in Performing Arts from Delta State University, Abraka, in 2002. She sang the popular Super Story theme music and was a back-up artiste for some musicians before she released her debut album. Essence, in this interview with ADA DIKE, talks about her sojourn into music and other interesting issues

How did your journey into music begin?

I started listening to Kenny Rogers and Michael Jackson from childhood. Also, I have been singing the National Anthem since I was eight. In fact, there was a DBN jingle I did when I was 18. After my secondary school, I started to back up for some musicians. Later, I attended a talent hunt show in 1998/99 called “Circle of Stars Talent Hunt Show.” That was where I met Kenny St. Brown who was one of the judges. On that day, she said, “Hey! You came first on my list, but I don’t know why you came second.” She took me up from there and I started backing her up on stage. What actually brought me out was the “Heavens came down” song that I did with Kenny Saint Brown.

Before then, I had had the basic knowledge about music from church; so, I started writing my own songs. Kenny St. Brown broadened my horizon and introduced me to a lot of people in the entertainment industry. She basically gave me the courage and confidence about how to grow in my music career. Kenny St. Brown guided me through the rough terrain as a budding artiste. Then, it was difficult for people to believe in or listen to a budding artiste.

My maiden album contains the African Prince track, though people criticised me that I sang Tuface’s song. It was like a remix of his African Queen song. I also did another song with OJB.

How did you get the Super Story soundtrack?

We went for a breakfast and she (Kenny St. Brown) introduced me to the producer. She told the producer, “Listen to this girl; she can sing.” So, he started playing the keyboard while I sang. He then told me that there was a soap opera coming up very soon. He asked me whether I would like to sing the soundtrack and I accepted the offer. So, we did the soundtrack and it was successful. Everywhere went wild when I sang it in Ghana.

Professionally, how old are you in the industry?

I am six years in the music industry. I am still very relevant and I am like an authority of sorts.

How is your relationship with your manager, Kennis Music?

It is a family thing. It is beyond an artiste-manager relationship. When you understand each other, things will move smoothly.

A lot of artistes on Kennis Music have left the label. So, do you think your own story will be different?

God can do all things while man can do something to a certain point. So, what will you do if God says it ought not to be?

As a female artiste, how has it been?

We are still struggling to survive because the male artistes seem to be dominating the industry. But I thank God it is getting down to us now. We all now behave like “Hey guys! This is our business, so we need to make an impact.” The fans are beginning to request more music from female artistes, so we now do the same thing guys are doing, which is playing at shows and events. We are not into music for fame, but we are in it because we love it and are passionate about it. So, it would be good to balance it once in a while by not inviting only men.

How did you handle the allegation that you and Kenny St. Brown are lesbian mates?

I handed it over to God because He alone knows everything. My family and friends stood solidly behind me during the period. This is because they know I am not into lesbianism. My boyfriend also knows that. Lesbianism is like a taboo; it is nasty and dirty, so I will never do such a thing. Before the rumour, there were threats. My parents sensed that something was going to happen; so, we prayed that God should give us the strength to go through whatever might happen.

As a musician, do you prefer fame to money or vice-versa?

We need money, but sometimes, fame brings favour that money can’t quantify. Besides, it brings accolades, so I would choose fame.

What would you have been doing if you were not into music?

I would have still been into music and nothing else. I am thinking about the future. You have to start thinking of putting things on the ground for the next generation. I want to go into events management. But I have been a master of ceremonies for some organisations.

How has stardom affected your wardrobe?

Oh! My God! It has affected my pocket, as I buy new dresses almost everyday. This is because if you wear a dress once, you can’t wear it again. It is crazy, but it is a good craziness.

What kind of attire do you love most?

Before now, I used to wear trousers, but it is going to be gowns from now on. Also, I have fallen in love with shoes and bags. Anyway, I am still building my repertoire.

Why do you now wear a low cut?

I had my hair cut low when it became weak. So, I fixed this attachment by the side of my hair as a signature because my hair gets me noticed.

What are your future plans?

I would like to take one step at a time. I want to be a reference point in the entertainment industry. Anything can happen, so I am ready to be visible in the music industry by the grace of God.

As a female artiste, a lot of admirers would certainly be swarming all over you. So, how do you handle admirers?

I am very civil with admirers. I encountered one yesterday and I handled him maturely.

Would you accept or reject a proposal from any of your admirers?

No, because I am in a relationship at the moment. But I would not tell anybody because my relationship is not my claim to fame. You won’t perform well on stage, if you are not happy; so, I give God the glory.

So, who really is Essence?

Essence is a simple, fun-loving and God-loving lady from Itshekiri in Delta State. But my mum is from Bayelsa. I am the last of seven children, so I am mummy’s and daddy’s girl. My mother was in her 40s when I was born. I studied Theatre Arts in Delta State University, Abraka and graduated in 2002.

Who is the lucky man in your life?

He is good and he is my man. The knowledge about him is for my consumption only. He’s a friend to a friend; we met and it clicked.

So when is he taking you to the altar?

I will invite you to our wedding when the bell rings.


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