Monday, 22 June 2009

The return of Laurrenz

My encounter with Mother Theresa...


He had earlier promised visiting The Guardian last time he was in the country, but with the change of things Lawrence Onuzulike couldn’t make it.
However, on arrival this time, the Sweden-based artiste made the Rutam House his first port of call.
“I’m actually on a media tour, so, we are here to see you as promised,” he says as he alights from his car.
“The Guardian office is one newspaper house in Nigeria that actually looks like a media house,” the Anambra State native observes as we step into the reception for a chat.

While a young man, Laurrenz, as he’s fondly called, was greatly influenced by the charity works of the late Mother Theresa of Calcutta, to the extent that he opted to join her. Though from an Anglican family, the singer got to know about Mother Theresa through one of his parents’ Catholic tenants.
“I got fascinated by her deeds; in fact, I used to think she was a saint dead long time ago. But when I heard that she was alive, I begged my father to take me to India to see her, which he did.”
“That was my 19th birthday,” he recalls. “My father was getting older then, so, he sent me alongside one of his servants. I voluntarily worked with Mother Theresa for a year, helping the kids in the schools.”
Were you paid?
“You don’t get paid for that, instead you contribute to the work; in fact, my parents were sending money to me for upkeep…”
To Laurrenz, working with Mother Theresa was like a dream come true.
“I don’t even know why I chose to do the work, but after that, I felt I’d achieved something great. It was really nice because it gave me much attention as the first black to work there without pay; it still stands in their record.”
“Mother Theresa observed how I used to defend Africa. So, she said if I continued fighting for Africa like this, that one day, I would win the Nobel Prize.”
Are we seeing you in that line?
“Well, with my books, that’s basically the kind of things I write about; my books don’t go down well with the whites because I fight for Africa through my works.”
With his first novel, Chikezie Ezeigbo; living and dying in agony, already on bookshelves, the singer is working on the second, Lawrence Onuzulike; until now, a compilation of his published articles in different magazines and newspapers abroad.
“It’s being published by a white company and will be distributed internationally by Engram.”
But your articles are usually against the whites?
“Funny enough, a white publishing firm has agreed to publish the work,” he says amidst laughts.
It seems you believe so much in Africa?
“Yes, and maybe that’s what Mother Theresa saw in me when she said what she said about me. Anytime I’m abroad, I feel like I’m choking, but here, I feel more relaxed.”

MEANWHILE, Laurrenz’s recent visit has nothing to do with his books or charity; the singer returned to promote his new album, I’m The Laurrenz.
“This is my third album,” he says. “The first was titled I, it’s a Swedish hip-hop/pop music. The second album, Still Single and Rich, was recorded in Nigeria, featuring some Nigerian artistes. That was the one that sold very well because it was Africanised; it sold more in Europe than here.”
With the new work, featuring artistes such as Jah Squad, Konga and Pasto Goody Goody, the returnee artiste intends to introduce himself to the Nigerian audience.
“For more than six years, they’ve seen me in the movies and my posters around the country. My music videos have been played on TV, so, they know that there’s a Laurrenz, but they don’t really know me. With this work, I’m introducing myself to Nigerians.”
With the date for the official album launch yet to be unveiled, the artiste is determined to promote the title track, I’m The Laurrenzo, which is already enjoying airplay on Lagos radio stations.
“I do hip-hop, but my last album had Afro hip-hop and highlife. But this new work is Afro dancehall, fused with talking drums and African beats; you will like it because it’s danceable,” he says.

LAURRENZ journey into the music industry dates back to his days at the Akpata Memorial High School, Lagos, where he teamed up with like minds to form a gospel hip-hop group, before heading to Sweden to study Swedish Language and Intensive English. But professionally, his music started in Thailand.
“I met a group in Thailand called, The Calypsos, from Trinidad and Tobago. They used to do dance music, but they don’t rap in it. I used to go watch them at the beach, and in one of those occasions, I rapped with them for fun; they were impressed that I could rap in their own kind of music. That was how I joined them and we started touring Asian countries; that was the birth of music for me.”
Back home, Laurrenz had worked with artistes such as Orits Wiliki.
“He’s my friend,” he sings. “I was in his video, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. We did some stuff before I travelled back to Europe.”

ASIDE music, he also runs an outfit, Laurrenzic.
“The company has an online entertainment section and a site,; it’s just like Facebook, where you could network with people. We actually built it for Africans alone, but we now have some whites that want to network with Africans. The international media rated it as the fastest growing African network,” he informs.
Having worked with his role model, Mother Theresa, Laurrenze is already thinking of establishing a charity.
“The good thing about being a celebrity in Europe is that you always get involved with charity works; that’s their style. I’ve started one, Children Africa; you can go online and find out about what we’ve done. We are not saving kids in Africa, we just want to give African kids happy time; we don’t need to wait till they turn beggars on the streets.”
He continues: “We find out what their dream is and try to help them live up to it. For instance, one of them might have the dream of meeting Nelson Mandela; we help facilitate the meeting just to put smile of their faces. We have our presence here, but we are more popular abroad.”

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