Omawunni Magbele’s exploits in the nation’s music industry began when she participated in the maiden edition of the Idols West Africa in 2007. Although she was adjudged the first runner-up in the competition, the feat has endeared her to the hearts of many music lovers in Nigeria. In this interview with BAYO ADEOYE, the Warri, Delta State- born singing sensation talks about her career, growing up and love life.
When exactly did you develop an interest in music?
Honestly, I have always loved to sing, write and so on. When I was in the school, I was a member of a music group. Also, I used to be in and out of the church choir while I was growing up.
While you were growing up, who were the musicians (local and foreign) you enjoyed listening to?
Ah! They were quite many. I used to listen to the music of the 60’s and 70’s and jazz, courtesy of my dad. My mum was more of a Mariam Makeba fan, though she also listened to a bit of the indigenous music, which I really couldn’t stand. My elder brothers and sisters enjoyed the music of the 90’s. So, you could say I listened to a whole lot while growing up and that is what has formed my music.
What informed your interest in the Idols West Africa and how has the experience impacted on your career?
I just wanted to experience it. I knew I could sing. I just wanted to try it out and I did with the encouragement from my friends and family.
I know a few guys who took part in some singing competitions in Nigeria, but not all of them are faring well in their individual career. So, what is the secret or magic behind your relative success story since you seem to have literally blown up after the Idols West Africa?
There is no magic anywhere o! I’m not an authority here either. I don’t think there’s a clear cut strategy; so, as for me, na God o! I just took advantage of most opportunities that came my way.
Your debut single, In the Music, also won the Next Rated Award in the Hip-Hop Music Awards in 2009. Could you tell me how you were able to achieve this?
As I said earlier, there is no magic anywhere. I am just doing what I know how to do. I believe God just wanted to crown my efforts and I thank Him for that.
Your album, Wonder Woman, is enjoying rave reviews at the moment. What inspired the song?
Thank you very much. I was in a fix before I could write that song. I wanted to do something that would appeal to Nigerians and Africans in general. And the first song I had written for my album was neo-soul; but in my opinion, it was not strong enough to captivate my audience. I was on the Third Mainland Bridge on my way to the studio when it occurred to me that what was more important was for me to make music. The message of the song, In the Music, came to me before the tune; hence, my dilemma was my inspiration.
As a new entrant in the industry, your style of music is strange and unique. But did you ever consider the fact that your fans may prefer Hip-hop and rap?
To me, I don’t think I have to sing to appeal to anybody. Rather, I sing what I consider to be good to me. Many young musicians sing for commercial reasons or are forced by their management or marketers. I, however, sing according to the dictate of my artistic reasoning.
So, I guess you can call my kind of music Afro-pop. I grew up listening to all kinds of music and I get my inspiration from all those genres. In Wonder Woman, I tried my hands on different genres like kwaito, reggae, highlife and techno. It seems crazy when I say it, but it actually sounds nice.
These days, some people believe that many young Nigerians want to be music stars rather than being professionals in other areas of human endeavours. What’s your take on this?
It all boils down to what your passion is. But to make a career out of your passion requires a lot of hard work. I think a lot of young Nigerians are passionate about music, just like some are passionate about medicine or engineering. But my advice for any young aspiring Nigerian is to do what makes him or her happy. It is only then that he or she can be fulfilled in life.
Unlike before, so many female singers are now slugging it out with their counterparts in the nation’s music industry. What do you think is responsible for this
The music industry is evolving and I thank God for innovative minds in the music field. I would say God has given me and some other female singers the opportunity to be parts of the change.
Your studied Law and you were working in a law firm before you embraced music. So, have you abandoned law practice for good?
Law, as a profession, is very versatile. I am glad I studied Law and I intend to go to the Law School. It is not impossible to do both. I would only have to learn how to strike a balance between the two. So, I have not abandoned it. But Law was not actually what I wanted to do in the future. I was forced into it by my uncle who is a lawyer; I actually wanted to be a teacher.
Many music fans nowadays are crazy about music that is spiced with vulgar themes. Given the peculiarity of our society, do you think this can in any way contribute to the popularity of the artistes concerned?
Well, I think it is a strategy to market music. There is nothing wrong with it as long as you know how to sell it without coming across as vulgar. I am in tune with my sexuality as well and there is a message behind every song I compose. Ultimately, the fans are the ones who decide what will work and what won’t.
Sometimes ago, it was reported that you dumped your fiancée in Port Harcourt because he didn’t support your ambition. How true is this?
That is not true. I have never done such a thing. Na lie people dey lie against me.
Are you saying that you didn’t have a boyfriend in Port Harcourt before you relocated to Lagos?
I didn’t tell you that, but the relationship broke up on mutual grounds. It wasn’t a serious relationship, even before I came to Lagos.
If you meet a man who loves you and says you should choose between him and music, what will you say?
God will never give me that type of a man. Sincerely, I will never abandon my music for any yeye love. I am praying for a man that will love me and love my career. Any man that loves me will surely love my career too. I don’t think I can give my heart out to a man like that. Men don show me pass that one o! I can never trust them again.
Last year, it was all over the place that you were in love with Dr. Frabz. But again, it is being rumoured that the relationship has hit the rock. What really happened?
Please, this is not what I would like to talk about here. My affair with Dr. Frabz is a past issue.
Who are you dating now?
As a beautiful girl, you mean no man is looking your way at the moment?
Maybe I am too busy to notice them.
Have you been approached by any foreign label??
The only foreign label I was signed on to was Sony BMG Records, courtesy of Idols West Africa. I am doing my own thing at the moment with a team of young intelligent Nigerians. We may partner with a foreign label in the nearest future.
You were part of the popular drama, Vagina Monologues. Could you share with me your experience while you were in it?
It was fun taking part in it, but it was also insightful in the sense that the play opened my eyes to the plight of women in general far beyond what I was aware of. I think it was a selection process that put me in the cast because I only got a call asking that I take part in the play. I am grateful for the opportunity.
What is one interesting thing about you that some of your fans don’t know?
Well, you shouldn’t let my fierceness fool you. I clown a lot when I am with my friends and loved ones.
Could you tell me a little about your background?
I’m the 12th out of 14 kids. I grew up in Warri, Delta state, Nigeria. I had my primary and secondary education there. My father is late, but my mum is still alive. I was brought up pretty much in a normal way.
What are your hobbies?
I read a lot and I also love playing board games.
What message do you have for your fans?
There is no short cut to success. You have to work hard and you must continuously seek knowle-dge.
Story by nigeriafilms.com