Saturday, 24 October 2009

She won’t allow Pirates halt her mission

FUNKE Akinokun has what it takes to succeed both as a businesswoman and as a gospel artiste. A beauty consultant with a franchise for Sleek products, she is also the Nigerian representative of Colour Me Beautiful, an image consultancy firm. Her new audio and video CDs will be released in December. Talking to FEMI ALABI ONIKEKU, she recalls her journey in the music industry; and lots more.

Musical background
I have been singing since I was 10. And I have always been in the choir, in the church before now. I have been leading praise worship in the church, but decided to work on a CD last year to coincide with my 40th birthday this year. I decided to work on a CD because people have been saying ‘why don’t you do something, put it on a CD, so people can listen to your music?’ And because God had actually not told me to go ahead, I didn’t do that. Last year, I kind of received a revelation. I got inspired by God to do something that would touch the lives of other people and that is why I decided it coincided with my birthday.

Why Gospel, and not R&B, Hip-hop etc?
I sing gospel because I am a believer of Christ and I like to do things that will give glory to Him. And since what I do is sing, I have to sing to give glory to God. That is why I decided to do gospel.

Her kind of music
I decided to put together different types of music that would reach out to different sets of people. If you listen to the CD, you will see that you have hip-hop, you have highlife, you have the praise medley, African rhythm and that, which will touch the life of youths. You have the ones for the elderly and the ones that will touch the lives of Nigerians and non Nigerians, alike. I put together music in different languages. I did Igbo, Akwa Ibom, and Yoruba. And then we have English. In the praise medley, we have Ghanaian language spoken. So, we decided to touch different races.

Why should people listen to Funke among so many other artistes around?
My music is not just the music of Funke Akinokun. It is giving praise to God. It’s something that came from Him. Like I said, He inspired me. And when you listen to the music, you know there is a message behind each of the songs. When you listen to that music, it touches you. Since the time we presented the songs to the public, I have received series of messages and calls. Sometimes, I wake up in the morning and people call me to tell me ‘your song has lifted me up in this way, in that way, this morning.’ And that encourages me a lot and it tells me that it’s doing what it was meant for.

The attractiveness of the CD jacket
A lot of people have been saying ‘work on a CD, do something.’ I only do something when I know I am able to do it well. If I am not able to do it well, I will rather not do it at all. And also, if you look at this jacket, you will see that it is made in Nigeria. I’m somebody who loves Nigeria. And I like to prove to people that we have very good things here. We have great talents around and people who can do beautiful things in this country. All you need to do is work on them and then you get the best out of them. And that’s why I decided to do this in Nigeria. I decided to do it like this because I needed to present it to the public very well. If I want to buy something and the packaging is not good, it gives a wrong impression. So, you need to package it very well, make it attractive so that at first sight, anybody who handles the jacket wants to listen

When should another CD be expected?
When God says we should go ahead and do the second one. But the first one is not out there in the public. We have only presented it. We have only done the CD presentation. And you can only get the promotional copies. We have just worked on the video. We finished shooting the video in the early hours of this morning. Finished. So it’s going to be out soon. We are thinking of sometimes, first week in November. The video is going to be out and then the CD, both audio and video will be out towards Christmas. We are thinking of first week in December, for the video and audio CD. We are still working on the first one.

What should music lovers expect from your musical video?
Trying to pass the message in this song to anybody who watches the video. When you listen to a song, you want to see the video and then understand; you know you are able to marry the video to the audio CD. That is what we have tried to do.

Challenges in producing audio and video CD
The greatest challenge has been being able to combine what I have to do in the office with what I have to do at home and working on the video and audio CDs. So, for a married woman with kids, including my husband, you can imagine the challenge, especially shooting the video overnight, but with God all things are possible.

Given the quality of your production, don’t you think pirates would love you?
I am not going to do anything about it; because the CD isn’t meant to be commercial. It is just to pass a message across to people. Like I always tell people, you will be what God says you will be. Wherever God wants you to be, you will be. If the best way God thinks this will get to the end of the world is through piracy, so be it.

Music industry
Well, Nigerian music has always been up there. And I think we can only do better than what we are doing now, because as the days go by, you have better people, you have greater talents coming up.

Saddest moment
Honestly, there is non I can really point to right now. But I know there have been things you would have loved to do differently and you have not been able to. But things don’t make me really go sad, because in whatever situation I find myself, I like to smile over it. I like to thank God over it because I know that whatever happens to you, there is a reason for it. Things just don’t happen. Sometimes they happen for a purpose.

Happiest moment
That was when I came up with a presentation of the CD of His Praise and it got accepted.

You must be a religious person.
Yes I am. I am not a religious person. But I would say that by the grace of God, I am a godly person.

How godly?
I cannot say because I can’t judge myself. I will let other people answer that question.

We are a family of six, four boys and myself, my husband.

No female?
I am the female there.

Shall we not expect a girl very soon?

Do your children share your passion for music?
Right from when they were small; when they are on holidays we send them for music lessons, the ones that are interested, actually. All of them are interested, even the little baby. I have a two year old. He is interested in beating the drum. We have a drum set, we have a guitar, a keyboard. We have most musical instruments at home for them.

Do you envisage a time when they would be incorporated into some kind of family singing group?
Well, there’s no vision like that. But if God says that’s what could happen…

God, God, God, you must depend so much on God.
Yes, I do because it is by His grace I am living

Has God ever failed you?
He has never.

Where is your husband in all this?
Behind a successful woman, in this case, is a very supportive husband. My husband has been very supportive. Anything I do, he is always very supportive. And you will agree with me, a woman of my age, married woman with kids. My husband is very, very busy. But he still finds time. He has always been there for me. He’s very supportive, encouraging and giving me everything I need: morally, financially, in every way.

And have you reciprocated his support?
He will be the one to answer that question. But I have been trying my best.

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