Gloria Ibru… I grew up in a home where we had everything yet nothing
How has it been getting the G-Note on, looking at the challenges in the music industry?
It’s been tough but exciting. It’s a tough and cut-throat business. I have my band now for 22 years, but I have been singing in Nigeria for 30 years, since I came back from college and I graduated when I was 21. I did my Youth Service in 1987-88 and I have been singing since then. I decided to put a band together because so many times band failed me, and we have for 22 years we have been on together. And like I said it’s been tough. There are so many bands in the country and Lagos; we live in Lagos, but we have played in some major cities of the country —Port Harcourt, Calabar. I did Calabar Carnival for five years, when Donald Duke was governor.
The music industry is plagued with the issue of song copying or plagiarism, and we have seen artistes accuse one another of song stealing.What is your take on this?
Basically, music now is electronic and it’s a real shame. One of the things I’m doing now is the Gloria Ibru & Friends. The project is in three categories. The first category is from age and contemporaries like the Mike Okri, Ras Kimono, and Oritz Williki. The second category is the present day crop of musician, which includes Oritsefemi, Solidstar, and the last category, which are the upcoming artistes. I realised that upcoming artiste don’t have platform to showcase their talent. So in doing Gloria Ibru & Friends, which comes up every first Saturday of the month, I give platform to the upcoming acts. One unique thing about the event or show is that it’s being move round Lagos. I have done two, the first was in Ikeja, the second was in Surulere; the next edition, which comes up June 4, 2016 will be in Victoria Island. The next will be in Lekki, and the one after that will be in Apapa, then we come back to Ikeja. I don’t want do it in one place, my idea of moving the show around Lagos is for everybody to have the advantage of witnessing Gloria Ibru & Friends because it is a fantastic show. I found out that live music is almost dead or has died in Nigeria. I’m doing album now and it is my first.
Don’t think moving show about will affect the proceeds generate as gate fee?
I don’t have a gate fee; it is a free show, which is why I need sponsors. The edition so we have had was financed by me and it is taking a toll in my pocket, which is why I’m reaching to Nigerians, individuals, corporate organisations to support this project as it is helping to give platform to the upcoming artistes.
Why did it take this long to come out with an album?
In the beginning I didn’t plan to have an album, I just love to do my thing on the stage. I love to be live on stage and see people feel smile at sound of my music; it gives me plenty of joy. The thrill for me being an entertainer is being able to see that I’m making people happy with and through my music. I decided to give an album, this first one as a record of my life. It takes me four to five months to finish one song because the whole album is played live. So it is not like the usual album you have, where an artiste just goes into the studio and does his or her thing; mine is live session. In Nigeria, we don’t the facility to record songs live as a band, and this means that each unit of the band come and do their part at different times. For example the drummer goes in to his stuff today, the next day the guitarist. Remember we have the lead guitar and bass guitar; then the backup singers before you as the main artiste comes in. So you can see how long it takes for the album to be ready. Apart from how long it takes, it’s expensive because for every session, you pay the producer and the sound engineer. So this is the reason live music is dead or dying slowly in the country. When you go in and record electronically, you come out and sound electronically. What I’m also doing is trying to get the young ones acquainted with live music, even though they are recording electronically, they can still play live music. Because most artiste records electronically, they are not only getting the best of their voices, they also don’t get the best sound. This is why I’m trying to keep alive live music.
Is record of my life the title of the album?
No, I don’t have a title yet, but it will be titled.
How soon is the album dropping?
We are looking at September this year. It is a 10-track album and we have six songs. I have released two singles from the album and there is a video out as well. The first track is Sugar Mama, while the second is Africa.
What informed the titles — Sugar Mama and Africa, and what was on your mind when you were writing the songs?
I don’t write songs, I only interpret. The first song, Sugar Mama was written by daughter, while Lt Shot Gun wrote Africa.
Is Sugar Mama a tribute to you as mother or to mothers generally?
What the song is simply saying is that you can be friends with a young man and it doesn’t mean you are his sugar mama or mummy. I don’t have to be your girlfriend or lover, but just friend even though I’m 50 and you are 20. So that is basically what the song is about.
What instrument do you play?
I don’t play any except my voice.
What if, mistakenly something happens to your voice?
Nothing will happen to my voice. Let’s not even go there. My voice is my pot of soup.
Are you collaborating with any artiste on the forthcoming album?
Almost all my songs are collabo and mostly with young people. I believe young people because the youth are the future of tomorrow not just for Nigeria but for the whole world. After I’m gone they will do the same thing I have done for and with them for the generation after them, which is encourage the younger ones. My last show was dedicated to Nomoreloss. He was like my little brother, I met when he was 17, I gave him the first stage he performed and then he went on to give the younger ones after him the platform to perform and rise.
How did you receive the news of Nomoreloss death?
I cried like a baby when I heard he was dead…e pain me. I had seen him two week before that before I travelled to South Africa, and I had told him to hang on till I come back, but he couldn’t wait for me. So
You have had a band for 22 years and for those periods it’s been observed that your most of your performance are in clubs and high society events. Why is it so?
That is what it is supposed to be now. Where else am I supposed to perform? I have actually stopped performing in clubs but I’m doing the Gloria Ibru & Friends tour in clubs but I don’t play in clubs. What I want to veer into is music festivals around the world because my music is world music not like what you have playing everywhere; it is world music and I want take it out Nigeria. So, basically, what I need now is support for the Gloria Ibru & Friends tour. I call it a tour because we are moving round.
Do you intend to take it outside Lagos?
Yes, but I want to finish with Lagos before we can now take it to other cities like Port Harcourt, Abuja, Calabar, Warri, Asaba and Benin. You can imagine Gloria Ibru, Mike Okri, Ras Kimono and Oritz Wiliki in these cities. So definitely, we are taking it out but we want to finish with Lagos.
What is your take on blood relations going into business, looking the recent issue with the Okoye brothers — PSquare?
We from the same parents and we love one another. I think our mother instill in us that love for each other. While Obhukome is in-charge of the business and management, Elvina is the creative person and I do the singing and interpret the creativity or songs. It is beyond me that twin brothers will even quarrel. I mean, I don’t understand this; is it money. I don’t think and there will not be anything would bring a friction between and my two sisters. Is money or husband; if it is money the three of us will share it equal. We share whatever comes in equal. Never is a strong word, and I say never will there be anything that will make and my two sisters quarrel that we can sought inside. We were brought up like by our mother. The three of us are one, and you know what they call us…three little boys.
How does gossip get to you…For instance you open the papers or on the social media and see a gossip story. How do you feel or react?
Na you get your mouth na…You have you mouth and I have mine; what is important is that people matter know the truth.
Your pidgin sounds more like that of someone that grew up in Ajegunle. Did you by chance grow in famous ‘AJ city’?
I be Urhobo girl na…show me one Urhobo person that can’t speak pidgin. My mum spoke pidgin very well; she was half German and half Camerounian but she was born in Calabar. Her first language was Efik. I was brought in a home where we had everything yet we had nothing.
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