Interview: Lessons I learnt from, Life, marriage, family and Music —Kefee


 WHAT explains the reason behind your release of a double album some months ago?

I am a spiritual person and in as much as I like to sing and dance I am still spiritual. So I decided to show people both sides of me; the part that loves to dance titled Beautiful and the part that is spiritual titled Chorus Leader. Without a strong spiritual life you will find it very hard to cope in the physical. Both albums are themed “The Best of Both Worlds” showcasing different sides of me.

Are you trying to strike a balance between both sides of you?

I wouldn’t say it is about me trying to strike a balance between both sides of me; it is just about me trying to do what I want to do. I am just being expressive with my talent; I am Kefee, I don’t have to copy what other people are doing. I have to be creative, I have a lot to write about and I have a lot to talk about too. My burden is to continue to inspire people with my songs and when I get positive comments from people on my works it encourages me to do more.

Did music start for you in Church?

Yes! Music started for me in the Church; I started singing and dancing in Church and I used to go with my late aunt. She also took me out for social events too and always enjoyed myself singing and dancing at every occasion we went to. I am usually the centre of attraction back then and people sprayed me with money. That was how it all started for me…

You started out as a duo some years back. Why did you part ways with your other partner?

It was only necessary that our individual goals and ambitions defined our co existence. As we grew up in life our values changed and the things we held so dear in the past no longer commanded primary attention. So, we had to move on; we did not part ways, we only moved on to greater fulfillment for the purpose our creation.

As a young girl from the Niger Delta, were you not scared you were going to face stiff competition as an artiste when you went pro?

I am not scared of competition; I believe everybody has a place under the sun. Everyone has equal opportunities and it also depends on how well you use the opportunities that come your way. I never worried about competition because I was sure about my talent and the strength of my songs.

How have you been able to stay relevant in an industry where most people listen to hip hop?

I do a bit of hip hop too but most people know me as a gospel artiste. I try to work with a lot of people and that keeps me relevant. I like experimenting with music; I love hip hop and my husband is a big fan of that music genre. I love rap too and I draw a lot of inspiration from rap greats like Rakeem. I try to do anything that music allows me to do and I don’t just dwell on waxing traditional songs which has come to be my trademark on the music scene.

Have your works been anyway affected by piracy?

Yes! Piracy is a painful reality that confronts musicians, actors, writers and all others that have one form of intellectual property or the other. The presence of piracy and its very debilitating and traumatising effect has diminished us all. I see mix tapes of my songs and videos with no royalty coming to me. However, I am positive that things will soon change for good.

Your debut song Branama brought you so much fame when you started. How were you able to hold your own at the time?

Having been brought up by my parents in a home where love, humility and discipline were the hallmark of growing up, it was only natural for those values to still be part and parcel of me. I never lost touch of where I was coming from. I never forgot the fact that I am a child of God and the fact that all that we have today was truly given by Him. So, the fact that I was devoted to God helped me handle the fame that came with the success of my debut single Branama.

What inspired you into writing that song?

Branama was inspired by a grateful heart; I was just thanking God for all he had done in my life at the time. God gave me a reason to celebrate and Branama means shakara; I had reasons to show people what God has done for me. I wasn’t really known at the time and I was just a girl who was relatively popular in Sapele, Delta State before I came to Lagos.

Most people seem not to be able to balance your extravagant outlook with your spiritual life. What is your opinion on that?

People should not try to balance other people’s lives because I am not like every other person. Everybody cannot be the same because life has no manual; I try to do everything I can with my talent and that makes me who I am. I try to get the best out of whatever talent that I have because everybody cannot encourage you, but at least there are people who value what I do.

The tempo of your songs seems to be on the rise; Branama was a mid-tempo tune and Kokoroko is a high tempo song. Are you moving with the current trend?

For the song Kokoroko, I would say I was just doing good music except you want us to do a remix. Branama is a danceable song and so is the song Kokoroko, like I said earlier, I try different things because that is what creativity is all about. I cannot do everything the same way; variety is the spice of life and that makes the whole thing interesting.

What’s ‘Branama Afrique’ all about?

Branama Afrique (which means show off Africa) is a brand that is involved in aggressively redefining the African persona. It is the definition of our expressions, our strength, panache, beauty and values. It is more like cultural reloading.

What’s your greatest desire as a married woman?

I have already told God what I want from Him; if I tell you what I want you will not be able to do it for me (laughs). Whatever I want God to do for me has been tabled with the most high and I know He will do it in His time. Whenever I call on God, He always answers me.

How did the cooking part of you take shape?

My mum loves to cook and I learnt everything about cooking from her; she was always cooking and I was always standing in the kitchen trying to monitor things. I used to enjoy her cooking too and that somewhat prepared me for the business I am involved in at the moment which is called Branama Kitchen. That was how I got interested in the area of cooking before I thought of making money off it.

At what time did it occur to you that you could make money out of cooking?

I decided to get a restaurant after I was totally convinced about my cooking skills in 2005. I remember I just released Branama 2 at the time. I was actually going around looking for a place, but I couldn’t get a suitable place. I was still searching for a place until 2011 when I finally got a place. I started thinking about having a restaurant where I could further display my cooking skills and get paid for it.

You have three full-time jobs as a wife, an artiste and a business woman. How do you manage your time because you don’t look stressed in anyway?

I don’t work alone; I have people working for me and I have a husband that understands what I do. That makes it easier on the home front. I also try to live up to my expectations as a housewife. I have people who love my music and who try to contribute their own quota to ensure that I get the best out of my music. At work, I also have people who take care of things too and that makes it possible for me to be able to balance all the activities I get myself involved in on a daily basis.

Very few people would resign from a lucrative banking career for the uncertain. This, Irikefe Obareki did when she plunged headlong into the murky waters of the music industry 11 years ago, and today the Delta State-born artiste is enjoying wide acceptance in Nigeria and around Africa. In this interview with AHMED BOULOR, the Branama exponent bared her mind on a range of issues such as her first marriage, her current album and Branama Kitchen, among other sundry issues.


What major lessons did you learn from your last marriage with Alec Godwin?

It only opened my eyes more to what life is all about; if you don’t go through challenges you never become a stronger person. That was a chapter in my life that was meant to make me stronger as a person. People go through challenges and that was my story and when we couldn’t carry on any longer, we had to part ways.

What have been the gains of your current marriage to Teddy Esosa?

My husband is a very nice guy and I am actually writing a book about my first marriage. The bottom line is that I am happy and if you ask me, this is the first time I am getting married.

How did you meet your husband?

We’ve known each other for a long time, and when he felt it was time, he proposed to me. The rest is now history, like they say…

How often does he rush home to eat your meals?

He comes home straight to eat my meals; he doesn’t really eat outside the house. He also comes to Branama Kitchen to unwind too.

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