Duncan Mighty bursts into the Nigerian music scene with a bang as his first album did not only hit the airwaves but it also received rave reviews. The self-styled Port Harcourt boy described his foray into music from the streets as one of the marvelous works of God. He speaks with our Abuja Bureau Chief, YOMI ODUNUGA. Excerpts:
DUNCAN Mighty, did you coin that as a stage name or are those your real names?
First, let me thank you for this opportunity because it’s not easy for someone to do something and also gain recognition at the same time. My name is Duncan Mighty Okechukwu. I don’t have a stage name. I am from Obia/Akpor Local Government area of Rivers State.
A slang that has become popular in your music is ‘wene mighty.’ What does it really mean?
I will like to attribute everything to God. Inspiration can come from so many things. For example, you can be inspired by anything–from the movie you watch and the life of people you see around you. Wene is my local name, the native name they know me by at home, Wene means brotherhood. If you are a Port-Harcourt man, you will easily grasp the meaning. It means my brother from another mother. I always use that slogan in every of my songs because ‘wene mighty’ means togetherness. I believe it sounds good to me and also to a lot of people.
Many musicians found it difficult to grasp the limelight with their first albums. Yours was one of those exceptional cases, how did that happen?
Well, it was not really easy. Let me say I am yet to hit the limelight; I believe I’m still on the track of getting to the limelight. We are just enjoying it. For now, it is just a kind of flow of what you love. I don’t really see myself as being on top right now. But I give God all the glory because Duncan Mighty is now a household name. People want to play and listen to Duncan Mighty. But talking about the lime-light, we are still growing.
Tell us about your journey in the music world. At what age did the romance with music start?
I started as an instrumentalist. I used to play drums. I started playing in church. I also became the choir director. I later made a decision to take my music career to the next level. So I went to school to study Audio Engineering after which I did my youth service in Lagos as a sound instructor in Benson and Hedges. I did my Industrial Training in Muson Centre in Lagos. I was sent to work for Dolphin Studios which was one of the biggest studios. The studio produced a lot of superstars in Nigeria—-Paul IK Dairo, Plantashun Boiz and others. I didn’t really go into music even when I knew I could sing, I fell in love with sound, I had the love for it. I didn’t really just start from Port Harcourt. I got my degree in audio engineering and worked with other studios. But it got to a time that I challenged myself and veered into music. I never knew the first album was going to be a hit. Talking about Port Harcourt and Lagos, everywhere is the same. Wherever you are in life, you should be able to actualise your dreams. You should be able to say that this is who I am and this is what I am capable of and I want to start here. The music industry in Nigeria is so big and we thank God for Lagos because the people there have really given us the hope that a lot of money can be made from entertainment industry. Lives have been changed. When you talk about entertainment in Nigeria, people readily think of Lagos. But I give God the glory that, wherever you are in Nigeria, you can grow and people will accept you. Whether Lagos or Port Harcourt, we are one Nigeria.
There was this emotive song about your mother’s illness and her miraculous healing. Can you tell us the story behind that?
It is a true life story. My mother was sick for a long time. She had been ill for 18 years and when I grew up, I met my mother in the same situation. But, today, I thank God that He has taken charge. My mum is sound and I decided to use it as encouragement to others because it wasn’t easy coming up from the street and facing that kind of situation. It is hard to believe that God could heal her, especially when I didn’t have money to fly her abroad and suddenly she was healed through prayers. That is why I decided to put in on sound to encourage others that may be in the same situation.
Are you in any record label?
I took my time and worked for record companies, I worked for Dolphin Studio owned by Emeka Ogoh. I came back to Port Harcourt and worked for D’Large Record, raised it and mixed the first Port Harcourt compilation and I was signed to a company as an Audio Engineer. As a sound instructor, I worked for 360 Record for a year and I left to work for another record label. I made some money there and I started to do my own thing at home and that was how I came to do my first album without a record label. But now, I have partnered with Chris Aire and formed an independent record label called AireMighty Records.
There is an ongoing controversy about how you went to Lagos to sign with Mo’Hits Records. Did you at any time put pen to paper with Mo’Hits Records?
The rumour started when D’banj wanted to do a show for His Excellency and I was called because they believe that I was in charge of the South-South and they said they would like me to support them and give people the awareness of what they were doing. It was then I found out that D’banj was building a studio in his house. I told him that it was not the kind of studio for Mo’Hits’ level and I restructured their studio because I am a sound engineer. By that time, I was building the studio for them and people were seeing me with them going for campaign awareness, attending some press conferences together with them. I was so surprised to see on paper that Duncan Mighty signed with Mo’Hits record. I never did.
You have moved from being a Port Harcourt boy to a Nigerian boy and all that. Tell us about that transformation.
It is all courtesy Chris Aire, my boss. I thank him because he is the biggest thing to have happened to my career today. There is one thing about discovering a talent and there is that other thing about appreciating someone. Ever since I started working with Chris Aire, my career has turned to that of International Duncan Mighty. If I am to start saying the details, we may not finish today. So keep your ears down, you will hear a lot of Duncan Mighty and a lot of the international artistes that I would be working with. It is a kind of spreading the love, showing people that the world is all about love, courtesy of the boss himself.
What are your targets for 2012? What should your fans look forward to both nationally and internationally?
I am set to release the first video of Duncan Mighty which should come up towards the end of April. Also, I am having the first Duncan Mighty Live Concert in America and Europe and I also have a programme I want to do concerning the less-privileged. With what God has done for me, I realise that I should be able to positively impact the lives of others. I should be able to give them hope so that they will be able to remove themselves from the social vices. With that, I decided not to relax doing music alone. I have a project called Duncan Mighty Music and Art Project. I want to start giving free eye treatment to the elderly people in the communities—those who cannot go to the hospital anymore and also for pregnant women who may not have access to ante-natal care. There is also a programme called Duncan Mighty In My Class which, by the grace of God, will soon come on stream. In this programme, you will see me teaching Physics and Mathematics from next month in some schools in Niger Delta. In my own region, people see celebrities and musicians as school dropouts who came into the limelight by chance. That is not a true reflection of what and who we are. A lot of us are educated and we do obatin degrees from relevant institutions of learning. So I want to let people know that being a star does not mean you are a drop out. I am also dropping a new album and looking at getting across campuses in Nigeria to sensitize the youth, to let them know they already have within them something to make them great.
What would you say is your greatest challenge in your music career?
Growing up on the street is not easy; being born and raised on the street is not easy. That is the greatest challenge that I have overcome and I have been able to hit the top from nowhere—from poor man’s house, with people not believing in you as an upcoming artiste.
Without a record label and a music promoter, what was the experience like promoting your album on your own?
I want to let you know that it is God because I didn’t have money to start paying all the media houses when my first album came out. There was a clear difference between the fact that the song was reigning and the song was selling. When I dropped the first album, it was the choice of the common man which was why I said that it was God. The only thing I did was that if I know a radio DJ, I would want to go close to him so that he can play my song. In our country, I found out that people just look at you and your album and say you are trying and they want to support you. I got a lot of such favours.
And that happened, did it humble you or did it make you feel you somewhat special?
Humility comes before anything, it cannot come after money. The Bible says that pride goes before the fall of a man. For me, it was not about the money but the more about the favours from God.
Are you married or is marriage not in the radar for Duncan Mighty for now?
No I am not. I will get married at the right time, but for now I am just taking life one day at a time.
Most artistes are not doing well today because they fail to invest, apart from music, what else do you do?
This is the first time I am being asked this kind of question. Apart from music, I invest in civil engineering. We’ve built a couple of roads in the Niger Delta. One of my investments is Wene Mighty Construction Company.
How long do you intend to stay in the music business?
It is something I love to do best, God willing, for as long as I live.
What does being a Nigerian mean to you?
A whole lot because I have never seen, in the whole world, a country with so much natural talents and natural resources. It is a country where you can be anything you want to be if your truly work at it. I pray that we continue to make progress through effective governance, so that we can maximize our God- given potential.
What’s your philosophy of life?