Popular songstress, Omawumi Megbele, tells Ademola Olonilua about her latest work and other issues in this interview
Why it took me so long to launch my album
I just wanted to take out time and make good music. There are some people who do yearly albums, I try to do like two or three years. There are people whom I emulate. I feel that as music is a craft, you must try to make sure you put out good materials that can stand the test of time. It is not something that can be relevant for only two months or a year. You want something that is good.
My Lasso of Truth album
I’m very happy, I have got a lot of positive feedback. The sales in the first week was great. They made about 500,000 copies and it is almost sold out. The sales did very well because the demand is high. I did not even know that the demand was this high, even outside Nigeria, We have been working out platforms where we can sell the album. People outside the country ask whoever is travelling abroad to buy the CD in bulk for them. The demand is that high.
If not music, I would have loved to be a teacher
I might be fun to be with, but I’m not a comedian. My mother wanted me to practice law, but I wanted to teach. I have always wanted to teach, I would have been a teacher. I don’t know why I have the capacity to get people to listen to me. Right now, I’m part of an organisation that mentors young girls. You know when you sit with young girls and you are advising them, if it is someone else advising them, deep down they might not listen and think the person is spoiling their fun. But I come across as somebody who has been there, done that and got the T-shirt. So they listen. I think it would have been a beautiful challenge for me to be a teacher. I’m sure I would have been worried about the pay but it would have been flexible enough for me to have a family as well as enjoy what I’m doing if I was not into music.
My early days
I had many experiences but I’d like not to embarrass myself. I was very mischievous as a kid. I used to get into a lot of trouble. I had a lot of older ones, so they used to deal with me a lot. They would say, ‘Omawumi don commit again’. I was the sort of person that would steal my elder sister’s brá and put socks inside; that was when I was báre-chested. The sad thing is that when the thing now came out, it just came out at once. I did the usual things that children do. I can’t say most of it in print. If my older ones should read it, they would discover some things I did back then. I was pretty much a normal kid. I used to play a lot but my parents made us understand the value of education.
Year 2013 so far
I have got four endorsements this year. It has been fantastic. The thing about it is that I have been working towards things like this for a while. The way my work is, I have a healthy fan base. I have the kind of music I make and the kind of people who like it and it appeals to. When it comes to endorsements, I’m really grateful to God. It is a process, if you work and you put out good material and you are relatable, it’s a good thing. The fact that I can market so many products proves I’m a true Nigerian. Without blowing my horn and in trying to be as modest as I can, I am educated. Most parents want their children to be educated and even if they want to pursue their dreams, they use me as an example. I pursued my dream but at the end of the day, I got the basic education. Is she street wise? They use me as an example. Even though you are educated, it doesn’t mean you should be dumb. There are some parts of my life I feel people make comments, like ‘she is a single mother’; it is not supposed to be celebrated. The plus side of it is that I have a beautiful daughter. I figured that it is better for me to keep a life that God has given me as opposed to killing. That it didn’t work the way it should work or that I am not married, it is still a process, I am still a human being. That is also relatable. It is not like they say that when you get to a stage and you don’t get someone to marry you, you go and get pregnant. Some of my friends, when they look at me and say they want to be like me or that they don’t have time for men, I tell them no. Circumstances and life brought it upon me, I would not regret one day of it. I am happy with my daughter, I am happy about the family that she has and the one I have. Nonetheless, it is not something someone should come out and say this is the way to go.
I’ll tell you the truth, I’m indifferent. I have developed a thick skin. I would not say that from the outset it never affected me. But it didn’t mean I put my hand under my cheek and started brooding. I was just worried why this sort of thing happened. I am a solutions kind of person and so I started looking for solutions. I found out that there was no solution. Whether you like it or not, people must talk about you. The more mysterious you are, the more stories would be woven around you. I figured that you win some and lose some, you cannot have it all. The day you are the focus of the press, you just say by God’s grace, this too shall pass. I don’t like it when people form an opinion about me out of negative publicity, especially when it is not true and it affects my career. That is the part I don’t like because I believe everybody puts a lot of hard work into their music. That’s why I always tell people, I’m not an angel. That is why I encourage people to just enjoy the music. It is the music I am giving you, not my personal life, not who I am.
My first crúsh and boyfriend
I can remember him. I think I ‘died’ for him so much I cant remember how he tóasted me. You know when you like a boy so much and you try to catch his attention. He was my elder brother’s very good friend and it was like a taboo to have anything to do with your elder brother’s friend. The elder brother would beat both the friend and the sister. That was the sort of position I was in. I still collected the beatings because when you are blinded with love, you would stick with the boy no matter what. Eventually, we were so in love for a long time.
What influences my fashion sense
I try to be comfortable and look good as much as I can. It is not easy but I try. I’m not much of a fashion icon. I just know you wear fine blouse or skirt. I find it difficult to accessorise or match colours. I don’t know all those type of things. I started hearing it when I came to Lagos. I am a Warri girl. Before now, I was all about my shirt and jeans. Some people say they like Omawumi but they wish I would dress better or that I need a stylist. I would tell you that it is fine. I wish I would have a stylist, but in a situation where I don’t have one, as I dress, take it like that. The most important thing is that I am putting out good music. The minute I become a 360 artiste – where I am selling my fashion as well as my music, then you can criticise but till then, accept me as I am.