‘A positive, brilliant mind makes you flourish’
How did you start out with your foundation?
I FOUNDED the non-profit organisation in 2006, and in 2007 I held the first benefit concert to raise money for the under privileged children’s education in Nigeria and other parts of Africa. As at that time, I was privileged to work with various African ambassadors in Washington DC, so we raised some money for the concert. I had an orchestra choir. African ambassadors, presidents, congress members and senators graced the occasion, which held at the Nigerian Embassy over there. The money raised was used to provide scholarships for secondary school students who were orphans.
What experience led to the setting up of Courtesy Foundation?
I have never been comfortable with the situation of young children. I am pro-education and both of my parents are educators. My father started doing charity works since I was a kid, though we didn’t understand what he was doing. But when I grew up, I automatically had the call. So, even now, if I don’t do any charity work, I feel lost. Since as an artiste, I already had an established platform, I used it to shed light on issues affecting women, girls and children in Africa. There are issues of education, health— creating medical facilities, providing drugs, catering for widows and senior citizens who can’t take care of themselves anymore.
As a society, we have to take care of these categories of people. I believe an individual should not exist for himself/herself alone. So, if you are fortunate to have a platform, be it money, a voice, power or influence, you ought to channel that to the area, where things are not balanced; where the scale is low.
How did you get into music?
I started singing at a very young age. I was born into a family that loved classical music and so, I picked it up. It was God’s purpose and plan that I delved into classical music; we were among the few families in Nigeria then listening to classical music 24 hours a day in the early 80s. At age six, I had started writing songs, I knew I was going to be a singer and I told my parents. They wanted me to be an accountant; I didn’t like mathematics and I always failed in the subject. I am just artistic; I could do designs. By age 15, I had finished reading my mother’s collection of Shakespeare. I ended up studying Business Management in the U.S. to agree with my parents’ wish, but before graduating, I started singing. I sang at major events held at the school and started earning money. During my graduation, my vice chancellor asked if I could sing at the commencement ceremony, and that was my first audience of about 15, 000 people. I graciously accepted and my career took off from there.
I released a new single song entitled ‘Flourish me.’ It is a mainstream song, completely different from an operatic genre and it took a year for me to make it. It’s a love song I wrote and composed myself. It talks about being in a relationship, where you prosper and I would like women to get the message that not all that glitters is gold. Don’t necessarily look for guys with fancy cars and then they treat you like a piece of rag. A lot of women are emotionally abused, but they stay because of the money they are getting. Wouldn’t you rather be with a guy, who has a manageable car, who feeds you, gives you peace of mind, loves you, and is honest, caring and always truthful to you? Those are the core essentials of a relationship.
I want to use this music to pass a message to women and even men who are in relationships. Some women are very disrespectful; they talk a lot and nag, which is not nice. Create peace in your relationship and everything will prosper. You should have a positive and brilliant mind at all times. People should look beyond the negatives. This mind is like the best-untapped asset humans have, but unfortunately, we fill it with irrelevant issues – anger, pride, jealously, dispute, greed and grief, all of which are distractions. You are in a healthy relationship, if you are able to think, thrive and prosper. Does your spouse lift you up? Does he encourage you to be closer to your Maker? You can enjoy life, travel to Paris or Dubai, but if you are not attached to your Maker, then there is problem. You need to be with someone you can learn from and even if you part ways, you are wiser and more matured.
How about leisure and relaxation?
I love to sleep and if I don’t, I get cranky. I also love watching movies and listening to good music.
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