For gospel music sensation and kokoroko crooner, Kefee Obareki, better days are here again especially if you recall that some years back, her marriage to former manager Alec Godwin, ran into stormy waters which made headlines. Now, married to new husband, Teddy Esosa of Star FM, and a brand new album on the way, Kefee appears to be on top of the world. She shares her life story and we bring you excerpts. Enjoy:
What was your growing up like?
My childhood was filled with lots of fun. I had lots of cousins around and I played around a lot. I was that curious child that would always want to find out new things. I always loved to climb trees, I wanted to know how the clock ticked, I wanted to know how the television worked.
Were you a tomboy?
Not really. I just wanted to do what my brothers were doing.
Was your growing up all rosy?
I didn’t grow up with a silver spoon in my mouth. When I was born, my dad was still working and going to school. My mum was also working. My family was an average family and we were just okay. But we were not poor. Sometimes, things might be difficult but we always had food. I always wanted to give to people even as a child but I didn’t have so much. My dad would say ‘give what you have’. We used to have a shop where we sold rice, feed for chicken, because my dad was into poultry. He loved animals and so we always had food. I wasn’t born with a silver spoon because we were an average family.
Were you a daddy’s girl?
Yes, I was. My dad used to call me ‘ticket’ and some people still do till today. The last time I went to Delta State some people called me by that nickname. My dad used to call me ticket because he would say I was his ticket to this world. It’s because I am his first daughter. I was very close to my dad. He used to carry me on his shoulder and would always take me out. He made me really happy and we are still close. I am close to my mum too but she was a disciplinarian then. Although, my dad also disciplined us, for my mum you should know that if you flout her laws you would be punished instantly. My mum was there when I started singing. She taught me how to sing because she was in the Anglican Church choir then and they used to go for competition. My mum loved competitions and she was always going for one or the other. She always loved wining. Mum taught me how to comport myself in front of the crowd whenever I went for a debate or symposium. Now that I am married, we are still close. And she taught me how to cook too.
What’s Kefee up to right now?
Right now, my focus is on my album because it has been a while I released anything after Kokoroko and Sapele Water. It is going to be interesting because I have a lot of surprises for my fans. Of course, I opened a kitchen in February. I love cooking just as I have passion for music.
What should we expect in your new album?
My fans should be expecting exciting stuff and serious collaboration. I just want to keep it under wraps for now till its ready. I am planning a release concert for the album and I am planning to have a girl band. So, right now, we are auditioning girls for musical instruments. It will really be exciting.
Did music find you or you found music?
Well, for me, it was both ways because I found myself singing. I just knew I could sing.
At the point you decided to take up music as a profession, did your parents object to it?
They did because I was in University of Benin then and so they wanted me to stay focused on my studies. They also had issues with the people I was working with then. They had their own reasons but all I could see was that these people were ready to go with me to the studio, they were ready to fly with me and were ready to sing with me so I thought to myself why not. At that point, I wasn’t ready to give it all up even though I knew I was disappointing my parents then, I decided to continue. Eventually, they were happy with me when I came out with the Branama album. When I did the album launch, they came and were impressed with me. Today, everybody is happy with me.
You sing gospel?
Gospel artistes in those days seemed to be conservative but now they all look glamorous. Don’t you think worldliness is creeping into gospel?
First and foremost, we are in the world. So what is worldliness? We go out and transact different businesses. We go to the market and meet people we don’t even know and buy things from people we don’t know. I just found out that some people just like to take things very seriously. Christianity is the easiest life anybody can live. All you need is to be yourself and be good to your neighbour. We know that we have different people with different beliefs but if we can respect ourselves and love one another, then we will be at peace with each other. I carry Jesus, I love Jesus, I know Jesus and I believe in him but I don’t have the power to change you if you are not a Christian because nobody forced me. I live my life for Him and not for other people. So if you listen to my music, you will know what I believe in and how I live my life. And when I depart from that, you will know what I stood for and the kind of life I lived. I am not going to bother to change things but I will always do the right thing because what is right to some people might not be right to other people. I am a free spirited person and so will not like to lose sleep over some things. I love God. That is what matters most.
Most gospel singers would say that they were called. Were you also called?
(Laughs) I am not that type of regular gospel artiste because those people sing in the church. I am a kind of person with the kind of music I do. I can sing in any African festival in the world. I have been to a couple of festivals. I can sing at a wedding and I can sing anywhere. I didn’t hear any call that said ‘Kefee, my daughter, you have to sing.’ And I won’t lie. I was not called but I just had a passion and I felt I had something good to offer. People love to hear me sing. I just came back from Port Harcourt and the event was massive. The people there were singing my songs word for word.
How is married life now after your first experience?
Well, I am married now and it has been good. It has been great and fabulous.
If you were to compare your first marriage with the new one, what would you say?
Well, my new marriage is a testimony. But I am not willing to share it with anyone now.
What has life taught you?
Life has taught me to be very patient and follow my heart. It has taught me never to displease myself in order to please or impress people because you can never please them enough.
After your marriage broke up, what was life like?
Sorry, I don’t want to talk about that now.
Are you still friends with your ex-husband?
I don’t want to talk about that.
What was your most embarrassing moment?
That would be in 2008. That’s the area I said I am not going to touch but I am going to share this because I know that people expect so much from people like me, especially when they are Christians. But sometimes people can fail because they are human. In 2008, a particular pastor invited me for a programme and we agreed on payment terms. But when it was time for the event, he sent someone to call me and the person called and said ‘have you seen the papers today?’ And that was it.
Was it because of what happened to your first marriage?
They saw some stories in the newspapers and they were not happy about it. I said if my destiny depended on this, then my own for don finish. Why I am saying this? It is because back then the fliers were everywhere and they were expecting me at the programme. But the pastor stopped calling me directly and asked another person to call me. They didn’t even ask me how I was coping. Other pastors and bishops were calling to ask me how I was faring at that time. They had already made payment and I was ready for the programme but they stopped me from coming. It was really hurting and embarrassing. Eventually, God helped me, Kokoroko came out and became popular. So, I have learnt never to expect too much from people, no matter who they are.
What kept you going through those tough times?
Like I said, I don’t give up easily. I know I could sing and I felt bad with all the things they said about me. I knew that the things they said about me then were all lies. So, I thought to myself: ‘why should I base my life on that?’ And I knew it was only a phase that would play out eventually. But before then, I will not just sit down and watch. I would do what I have to do and I did just that because I knew that no matter what, the truth would come out. God has His ways of doing things that man cannot explain.
Is Kefee happy now?
Yes, I am happily happy.
How did you meet your husband?
I already told you that it is a testimony I am not willing to share. My husband has always been there, you know. We are together now and we are happy. I am not ready to go further than that because I have realized that people who share their secrets find it difficult to keep themselves together. So, I don’t want that kind of stress with this one at all. I want to enjoy my life.
What advice do you have for those who look up to you?
People who look up to me should be very patient in life because patience is a virtue. Sometimes we want something and we want it now. That is why some people go into all sorts of things to make it. It is better to wait because when it is your time, it’s your time. There is nothing anyone can do to change it. Also, they should learn to give what they are doing 100 per cent attention.
Culled From Sunday Sun