Mandy Ojugbana Mandy Brown-Ojugbana of the Taxi Driver fame is back after disappearing from the music scene for a couple of years, and has become one of the darling voices on radio. KAZEEM POPOOLA took her on her metamorphosis from music star to one of the most sought after on-air- personalities.
You disappeared after hitting the limelight with Taxi Driver, your popular hit. Where have you been?
I have been in the UK working and handling a couple of programmes for Channel 4 TV in UK. I am a qualified broadcaster. I studied at the London Academy of Television Broadcasting, so that is what I have been doing while also running my businesses.
You actually quit the music scene when the ovation was loudest. What happened?
I left for bigger things. I was a young girl at that time. I think I was 15 or 16 when I signed my first record contract. I actually left the scene to complete my education and moved on to the next level.
What inspired you to remake Bobby Benson’s Taxi Driver?
Phase Two Records, the record label that bought over my recording contract from a gospel record company called Auto Records, approached me. I was a singer and it was Auto Records that discovered me in church at a young age and signed me on before I was brought to Phase 2. The popular track was given to me by Phase Two Records to do.
Apart from the fame, were any other things attached to the success of the track?
The Nigerian music scene was booming in the 80s, and there was a lot of money to be made. I made a decent living out of that record. I actually released two records, the first one was Breakthrough, and the second was Oh my Love. Breakthrough was the album that had the hit song, Taxi Driver.
Let us talk about your metamorphosis from a diva to one of the finest voices on radio, most especially your movement from Brilla to Smooth FM...
As I earlier said, I am a qualified broadcaster. I have worked on TV and when the idea of presenting on Brilla FM came, I told them that it was a fantastic idea because I am very much into sports. I like football. I was with Brilla FM for a while and I thoroughly enjoyed my stay there. I had a fantastic time, I ran the morning show from 10:30 to 1pm, and it was very popular. In fact, shortly I left Brilla, they went from number 5 to number 2 in ratings. Shortly after, I moved to Smooth 98.1 FM, where I present Smooth Breakfast with Mandy, the programme that focuses on politics and topical information.
As a woman, people will expect you to present issues that concern women. Why sport and politics?
I think sport and politics are peoples’ favourite pass times and they are my pass times as well. I am capable of having women related programmes but I was approached to handle sport.
Going by the theme of the song, Taxi driver, does love know no barrier?
Does it? I don’t think love has any barrier. If somebody decides to love somebody else, it can happen regardless of race, age, religious denomination. I think love can overcome everything. Maybe that is too idealistic, I don’t know.
With the look of things, it seems you have kissed singing goodbye.
Not really, if somebody is out there and wants to work on a project with me, I am available to welcome the project. I performed at the last Felabration. However, my focus now is on Journalism and Broadcasting. If you ask me the highlight of that, I think it was the 2-hour interview with Wole Soyinka. It was one of the longest exclusive interviews he has ever given. That was a highlight for me as a Journalist and Broadcaster.
Who are your favourite Nigerian music stars?
I like Omawumi, MI, Jesse Jagz, OB Jazz among few others.
What about movies?
Some of the best movies created in Nigeria are the Yoruba movies. Yoruba movies are better when compared to others.
Talking about the Broadcasters in Nigeria, who are the ones you looked up to and highly appreciate?
Femi Sowoolu, and Larry Izamoje
What about the younger presenters?
If I am going to pick the presenter I admire most, it will be Matse of Wazobia.
Any intention to repackage your old songs?
My focus now is to build my platform in the media. I am a content provider; I am a Master of Ceremony and a set designer. My intention is to grow my broadcasting career. Music is now something that if it happens, it happens.