Nollywood queen of sound tracks and gospel artiste, Chimere Emejuobi- Nnaoma, in this interview with Ada Chidi-Amaefula speaks on her current projects, among other issues
I had wonderful moments when I was growing up. My parents were supportive. My father was strict while my mom was a calm woman. I lost my mother last year, but I thank God she had been buried since January 23, 2015. Ours was one big family. But I missed my being dad’s pet. When I was younger, I got all the things I needed. I am from a family of 10, six males and four females and I am the sixth child. I had my primary and secondary school in Owerri, Imo State. I attended Girls Secondary School, Akwakuma, Owerri, before I proceeded to Federal Polytechnic, Oko in Anambra State where I studied Mass Communication.
Doing Music Professionally
After my secondary school, I relocated to Onitsha in early 1990s, where one of my uncles, Chibest Investment, introduced me into music. After listening to me rendered a song, my uncle took me to a recording studio and later introduced me to one of the biggest Onitsha based gospel bands, where I started as a back-up singer and I did my first sound track that same year. I started my music career by doing back up for some gospel artistes in Onitsha in 1996 and I did my first sound track that same year. I did back up for musicians including Majek Fashek and Obi Nwankwo to mention a few. Due to the love I have for entertainment in its entirety, I relocated to Enugu to act in movies, but was a bit disappointed when I realised that you have to be connected before you get a role or else, the only role you could get would be the menial ones. Initially, my plan was to become an actress but I became confused when I saw a lot of people that queued up for auditions. As a student then, I imagined how I could cope with the sum of N300 they paid to some actors then, while I had about N10,000 in my bag each time I went for audition. That was how I lost interest in acting and decided to go fully into music and also produce soundtracks for movies. My first soundtrack was featured in an Igbo movie called Obiora. I acted in Anti Christ film and also produced its soundtrack.
Having A Break
I have been quite busy doing my jobs. Finally, I have shot my ‘Cry For Help Worship’ video, directed by one of our best hands in Nollywood, Mr. Kingsley Omoefe. The Locations are London and Nigeria. We shot some of it at Ikogosi Water Falls in Ekiti State. Meanwhile, I did some movie soundtracks recently and they are really making waves online. These movies include: ‘Weeping Flower’, ‘The pains of Chimamanda’ and many others. There is one on the pipe line coming soon. It is called ‘Gold Dust’. I have rebranded my music and stepped up by setting up a record label called DEMIDEE Entertainment Company. It also serves as a music production unit which also engages in artiste management and modelling. I am currently in Spain for a show and also to be with my loving husband who is based in Spain.
Coping With Competition
I am not the only woman who produces soundtracks. The most important thing is for one to know her job very well. So my ability to produce and sing soundtracks has given me a lot of opportunities. I enjoy doing what I am doing.
Shooting To Limelight
The song that made me to be famous is ‘I Have confidence In You Jesus’. It’s in my maiden album ‘A Cry For Help Worship’, which recorded tremendous success and it is still selling till today. Through it, I always receive a lot of invitations from churches and highly placed people who invite me to play for them with my live band.
My Genre Of Music
I am a worship songs singer and my songs appeals to emotion, thereby connecting people to God. Most people don’t know my face but they know my name and my music because my former manager did not put my picture in my first album.
I encountered a lot challenges initially and tried my best to convince some marketers to give me an opportunity to showcase my talent. One marketer decided to give me a chance in a movie titled ‘Anointed’. There was a time I wrote a song and did a soundtrack for a movie but the producer refused to give me credit, saying I am nobody in the movie industry. What they forgot to know is that you don’t have to make noise for you to be known. One’s work supposed to speak for him or her.
I am glad that my talent has taken me to many countries including Ghana, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Belgium, the United States of America, Spain and so on. My experience in all these places was fantastic. I also had beautiful experiences sharing ideas with world’s famous actors at the Berlin Film Festival in Germany a couple of years ago. I have received many local and international awards including the 2012 Nollywood and African Film Critics’ Awards in North Carolina, United States of America and the 2014 Nollywood and African Film Critics’ (NAFCA) Award.
One of the embarrassing moments I encountered in pursuing my career was a day I was singing and walking along a road, a young man who loved my voice argued with me and did not believe me when I told him that I sang ‘I Have Confidence in You’.
No, I have not, but that does not mean that I cannot do it. I can do a secular music that has something that relates to Africa but I cannot do a vulgar song. If Not Music I wanted to be a broadcaster because I used to admire the beautiful faces on television when I was younger, that is why I studied Mass Communication. But I could not leave music because it is in-born.
My Stake On Entertainment Industry
Entertainment industry in Nigeria has improved, but can be better than what it is today with time. I am glad that the federal government has indicated interest in making sure that the industry continues to soar through bail-out fund for the industry and other programmes, but there is need to be serious regulation for the industry.
Music And Nollywood
The music and movie industries have done well. Our musicians have done a lot in terms of good and widely accepted music within and outside markets. The movie industry is improving but there is still a lot of work to be done in terms of scripts, equipment and well packaged jobs. Movie production requires a lot of money, so funding has been an impediment to producers. If we spend at least N500 million in producing a movie, the person may record loss because of pirates and cheap price at which movies are sold in Nigeria. The bail-out fund is a sign of good things to happen in future. Besides, President Goodluck Jonathan has promised to give us the necessary backing in our fight against piracy, so I am happy that government is now showing interest in developing the industry. The bail-out fund is not any loan that anybody can just apply without proving what he or she wants to do with it and how he or she will pay back. One of the requirements is that you must belong to a guild so that the guild will help you to facilitate the loan. But one of the major problems I will want the government to address is piracy. When I released my first album, I discovered that a lot of pirated copies were being sold alongside the original copies and people were praising me that my albums recorded a lot of success, that I have made millions of Naira from it. But the truth is that I had nothing to show for it at the end of the day because dishonest marketers made money at my expense.
There was a time I confronted my marketer many years ago over pirated copies of my works being alongside the original ones and I saw some people hawking pirated compact discs (CD) of my works in Owerri, Imo State and had to seize the copies of the CD. I later had agreement with my marketer who paid me stipend.
At my leisure, I relax at home and I love reading novels. I like watching movies, including foreign ones. I write songs, poems and scripts. I get more inspiration to be creative when I am relaxing. Opinion On Hip Hop I observed that some hip hop music in Nigeria has good lyrics that pass important message across. For instance, African China passes a lot of messages through his songs, so also, 9ice, 2Face and others.
My husband’s full names are Mr Emmanuel Chieme Nnaoma. He is from Awo-Omamma in Oru East Local Government Area of Imo State. He is a loving, honest and caring man.
When I was younger, I told me myself that I would be a singer. I thank God that my dream has come to reality. To be humble, my name rings like a bell because of my songs and soundtracks, which I have done in the past, including ‘Warrior’s Heart’, ‘Magic Cap’, ‘Sleep Walker’, ‘Corporate Maid’, ‘Love My Wa y ’ , ‘ N e x t D o o r Neighbour ’ a n d ‘Shakira’.