By Anote Ajeluorou (Assistant Arts Editor)
• Says ‘I Sincerely Apologise To My Fans For My Long Break From Music’
This April, Nigeria’s female reggae star of the 1980s and 1990s fame, Evi-Edna Ogholi, will yet again rock the airwaves with her favourite genre of music. She will be reaching her fans from her base in Paris, France. Once again, Ogholi will have her definitive reggae music pelting out her signature healing words of peace and love to a troubled world.
Peace and Love is the title of her new album (CD), which she released late March from her base in France. Realising how long ago she last made music, Ogholi has apologised to her fans for staying away and starving them of her soulful reggae tunes.
Sadly, Ogholi confessed to being a victim of domestic violence in the hands of her ex-husband, Emma Ogosi, who was also her artiste manager and producer. It was largely why she fled the country for her safety. As she recalls, “I travelled out of Nigeria because of my ex-husband (Emma Ogosi). He is very VIOLENT. Emma Ogosi turned me to his PUNCHING BAG, while I was married to him.”
But the mother of two has since put that ugly incident behind her and moved on. She is forging ahead with her life in France, where she has found a new home although she says she misses home and that nowhere else is better than home.
“There is no place like home; home, sweet home. When I go south, west, east and north, I will always come back home, to Nigeria! My family is solidly behind me like a rock. I have my family’s moral support. God bless my family.”
Like their mother, Ogholi said her son and daughter have inclination for show business. While her son sings, the daughter is good at managing, talents that will stand them in good stead in future.
As she states, “My son, Dumebi Odezi Ogosi, sings well. My daughter, Adora Onome Ogosi, can be a very good artiste manager.”
As widely travelled as the Isoko-born musician, Ogholi still has her feet firmly rooted at home, where Nigerian foods like akara and moin-moin are her favourite delicacies, which she yearns for with fondness. For Ogholi, the availability of Nigerian food all over the world makes life somewhat easy for people like her as a way of reducing homesickness.
As she puts it, “As a singer, I travel a lot. And, it is very easy for me to adapt to any society. Luckily, African food is everywhere in Europe. I buy and eat a lot of Nigerian food here (France). But, I miss akara and moin-moin. There is no akara and moin-moin in Europe. By the time I will visit Nigeria, the first thing I will buy will be either akara or moin-moin. I will go myself to buy the akara. And, I will ask the woman selling the akara to add jara ooooh! I go tell am say, ‘Madam, make you add JARA OOOOH!
“The world is a small village, thanks to technology. I am in touch with my fatherland, Nigeria. So also with Nigerian music.”
Ogholi’s new music Peace and Love, a regular theme for reggae music, contains five songs. Apart from reggae, Ogholi has also found a new love for jazz music, which is infused into her new album. This would seem an obvious influence and assimilation from her new abode in Europe, where jazz is prevalent. And she is so excited about her new jazzy sensibility, and calls it ‘a jazzy play.’
She notes, “My love in a jazzy place – is simply Jazz. Meaning, I am singing JAZZ, for the first time.”
Songs in Ogholi’s album include ‘Peace and love’ (reggae), ‘Urehe’ (It’s not over, until it is over – reggae/jazz), ‘Nobody can please the world’ (reggae), ‘Africa’ (world music) and ‘My love in a jazzy place’ (jazz).
The new album, she says, will also be out in France later in the year.
Like Orits Wiliki, it is Ogholi’s firm belief that reggae is still the dominant music, as it is the root from which all other music took off. So, she affirms, “Reggae is fashionable all over the world. France inclusive.”
Even in France, Ogholi is still active, musically, and has been busy performing, especially along the West African coast, where she has toured virtually every country.
As she notes, “I have performed in many African countries since I left Nigeria. I performed in The Gambia, Senegal, Burkina Faso, (which was many times), Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia etc.”
She also does voluntary work for United Nations Children’s Educational Fund (UNICEF). The Paris-based musician says she now speaks French, which helps her in her for the worldwide organisation, noting, “I used to do voluntary work for UNICEF, Paris, France. I speak French now. And, I am very proud of myself for that.”
Ogholi was quite a music item back in the 1980s and early 1990s before she relocated. Although she is a bit economical in describing that boom period of her career, what it was and what it meant to her, she simply acknowledges, and sums it up in one word, “In one word – WONDERFUL. All my previous albums (CDs) are still selling till date. Thanks to God, and my fans. I still receive royalty (money) from all my previous albums (CDs).”
She notes that certain ingredients make her music thick, and that she that she has retained them in her current album (CB).
“Yeah,” she says. “The ingredients that make my music special are melody, the message, rhythm, simplicity, and right from the very start, I don’t sing like anybody. I get inspiration from Jamaican reggae greats like Bob Marley, Sugar Minott, Dillinger, U-Roy, I-Roy, Yellow Man, and John Holt, etc. In brief, I just try to be myself, R A S T A F A R I A N-style.”
She says the music video for the song – Peace and Love will be ready this summer. And. in all, she says, “JAH GUIDES!”
EVI-EDNA Ogholi released her debut album My Kind of Music in 1987. She met Emma Ogosi, who was at that time a divorcee musician in the pop genre. They later got married; he was initially her manager and producer. My Kind of Music boldly established her place as Nigeria’s first real female reggae artiste.
Thereafter, she released three more albums: On The Move, Happy Birthday and Step by Step.
These three albums were very popular with each album going platinum (over one million album copies sold) and she even toured the West African region, dazzling audiences with her performances in 1989. She was just about 23 then. Happy Birthday was released under Polygram Records (later Premier Records) in 1988. Her songs were socially relevant and were of great benefit to the community at large.