Leo’nel Exhales Passion For Music
Upcoming Singer and producer, Lionel Chukwuemeka Orji, was born into the home of Zack and Ngozi Orji. The young artist fell in love with the act at the age of nine, and ever since, has not looked back. The graduate of media studies and television from the University of Bradford did his first studio session and officially released his first single titled, Baby Jo, an afro-beat style of music in 2010. In this chat with IJEOMA OPARA, he talks about his career, entertainments background and his new project.
Tell us about growing up?
FOR me, growing up was not too different. As a child, I would follow my dad to movie location, and in the process, I featured in three movies, in two of those I played his son, and that is an experience many people didn’t have, growing up. I was the only child for about 10 years before my two younger sisters came along. My mum sings in church, while my dad plays the guitar and sings too, though, he is popularly known as an actor.
Would you say your passion is in-born or from the family?
I would say it’s in-born; in 2002, while in secondary school, I decided I wanted to be a singer. I started out with rap; that was when I wrote my first song. Eminem had a strong influence on me back then. The decision to do music was so strong that I might have decided to discontinue education, if not for the strong influence of my dad, who stressed on the importance of education. So, while in school, I just kept at my music and started performing at school shows. My major break was when I performed at a show organised for Wizkid and Ice Prince; since a lot of students from different universities came for that show, I got more acceptance. People liked my music and that took me to performing in different schools and shows in UK. Back home, I have performed in different places from corporate events, to celebrity events and weddings.
Tell us about your recent works?
Currently, I am promoting my single title, Roll, which was extracted from a 10 minutes short film I wrote. It tells a story of love and betrayal; I was inspired to write this song based on series of things I saw in school. I am also working on another single titled, ‘Celebrate’, it is in good time for the Christmas season. Celebrate is a feel good song, to make people happy and dance; you are celebrating life, good times. The point was to make people to be grateful for what they have, and no need to wallow in sorrow.
What genre of music do you sing?
For me, I call it Good Music; I do music that makes people happy, that is my vision. I like making music that comes from the inside, based on experience, environment or my spiritual life. I also like to do a little bit of afro-pop; I like to ensure that there is an African touch to my music.
Most young people are concerned with beats today and not lyrics of a song, what is your take?
There are different people for different kinds of music; there are still people who care about lyrical content and I think it depends on the artist and what he hopes to dish out to his audience. For me, I will be bringing a balance of everything; there are times I need to sing, say some things and reach out to people, a lot of people want to listen to your music and be blessed by it, you can’t hide the fact that music is very powerful and so whatever you put out has an impact. At the same time, less is more; not saying too much passes a message and that is why we have genres like jazz with fewer words.
What challenges have you faced doing music?
Being a new artist on the block comes with its challenges, people find it hard to accept you and the kind of music you bring out, but gradually, I know things will fall in place. However, having my father’s name behind can only take me through a certain level and I don’t want to rest on it be successful. I need to carve a niche for myself, so people will know me for me not just being Orji’s son.
Who is your role model?
My dad is my role model and he has helped me, achieve everything I am today.
What is your take on the on the Nigerian Music industry?
It keeps evolving and it gets very competitive including, international recognitions. I will say our music is number one in Africa and that is a milestone. For me, in less than 10 years from now, we will be on the same level with the American music industry.
Who do you look up to for collaborations?
I will like to have collaboration with Wande Coal; for international acts, I look at Chris Brown and Usher. In terms of how they have stayed relevant, I will look at 2Baba, because he has an acceptance and love from his fans and I want to take on with that.
Any embarrassing moment?
I was performing on stage and the disk was faulty and the songs kept skipping for over two minutes, I just stood there not knowing what to do, but at the end I took charge and performed.
Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
By God’s grace, at the top making and producing more music.
I like to be on a comfortable causal outfit: shirt, pants and on Timberland.