Amaka Nwosu is a renowned jazz artiste. She also sings rhythm and blues, soul and hiphop, among others. At a recently held City People’s Ankara Show in Lagos, she sang the national anthem, using the jazz style, to the admiration of the audience. In this interview with ADA DIKE, the robust and dark-complexioned lady talks about her love for music and other interesting issues
Could you tell me why you are into all the genres of music?
Basically, I don’t have to stick to one particular genre because I am a collective performer. Being a collective performer allows me the flexibility to do any kind of genre. And, of course, every musician is a collective performer. But as you grow in the profession, you can now pattern your style towards a particular genre, which probably is the one you love most, the one you are good at or the one you are most comfortable with.
But most importantly, it has to be your passion.
For me, I tend to do more of ‘R n B’ most often than the other genres. However, when I find myself doing the other genres, I still do them well. It is part of your training as an artiste. If you want to be rated among the best, you must try all the genres of the arts before you now can specialize in a particular one. But you must first have a basic knowledge of all the genres.
Why did you go into music?
You see, apart from God and Jesus Christ, my saviour, music is my best friend; and it has always been my companion. When I was younger, any time I was emotionally disturbed, I would start singing. I used to sing a lot as a child; so, music has always been a very strong force in my life. I love music a lot, though I never thought that it was going to become my profession. I wanted to be a lawyer, but when I was a child, I used to sing at parties, bars, birthdays and family events. Then, for me, it was just another way of having fun, but I never knew that it would become my profession. But here I am today. I think it is time people stopped undermining the power of music, especially African music.
Okay, when did you turn a professional musician?
It was during my undergraduate days when I used to perform at some shows on the campus and even outside the campus, especially during holidays. I was going to school in the East, but I lived in Lagos- well, I have always lived in Lagos. In Osun State where I served as a youth corps member, I was getting invitations to perform at shows.
When will your album be released?
I am currently working on my album and it will be released soon.
How would you describe your first experience on stage?
My first experience was in 1999 when I took part in a Karaoke competition, a talent hunt show, in Victoria Island, Lagos. It was aired on TV stations live. I came first and I won N100, 000 as cash prize. It was a lot of money then. For me, I think it was my happiest moment. I never expected that I would be a professional singer. But it was a turning point in my life. So, after the competition, a lot of people called me to know if I wanted to go into music. But I said no because I wanted to complete my education before going into any other thing. And from that point, I started getting more jobs.
Does it mean you have abandoned your degree in Political Science for music?
My degree is there.
Would you go into politics someday?
Not at all! I am not interested in politics and I don’t even have to become a politician because I read Political Science. Are you not a Nigerian? Don’t you live in Nigeria? How many people earn a living with what they studied in the universities these days? Your degree doesn’t matter any more. It is all about what you can do to have food on your table. Some of my classmates now work in banks. But what is the bearing between political science and banking? Are there not lawyers who are make-up artistes today? I’m not even inclined to politics, even as a graduate of Political Science. I love music and I’ll just stick to it. Even if I want to call it quits with music, I will rather go into broadcasting because I’ll love to try my hands on radio and television presentations. But it must be something related to entertainment.
Where do you hang out?
Yes, I do hang out mostly at jazz sessions in places like Ikoyi, Lagos. As an entertainment person, you must hang out, most especially if you are a performer. The people who need my services can be found in those places.
How did your parents react to your going into music?
We all love music in my family and I am not the only one in the industry. I have a brother who is also into it. They know we have to make a living. My parents have always supported my passion for music. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t have allowed me to go for the Karaoke competition where I came first.
Are you in a relationship now?
Oh! Sweetheart! For now, I am single. The only romance I have now is with my God and my music.
So, what are the qualities you would like to see in your kind of man?
First of all, he has to be God-fearing and he must have the heart to help others. He must have the desire to want to change people’s lives and not just sit down and grumble about the situation. He must be a man with a sense of humour. He has to be taller than I am because I am tall. He has to be a sensitive person.
What part of your body do you consider as the sexiest?
My eyes! Yes, they are very beautiful. Also, people always tell me that I have sexy lips.
How would you describe your fashion sense?
My style is African; it is Nubian. But I also like casuals. Most times, if you see me, I am in jeans. But when I am performing, it is strictly African or Nubian. I love to wear them with large and dropping earrings, bangles, low- beaded nickels and scarves on tunics.
Who are your role models?
When I was a child, I used to listen to Marvin Gay, Steve Wonder, Mary G. Blige and Anita Baker. Basically, they have been the foundation of my kind of music; so, I will say they are my role models for music. Then, when I grew older, I started listening to the music of the new age and other soul artistes like Angee Stone. All these people have inspired me in one way or the other. But I have tried in my own way to strike a balance between their generations and mine so as to get into the hearts of today’s people.
What dress will you not give a try for whatever reason?
You will never find me in skimpy dresses and those that expose my boobs because I am big and busty. I know some other people would love to flaunt what they have. I like to be sexy, but in a subtle way. I would rather cover up and leave the guys to their imaginations. I think it is better that way.
When you are not working, what to do you do?
I relax either by listening to music, reading books or movies. I love watching movies and I love hanging out with my friends.
Could you give me an insight into your educational background?
I am a graduate Political Science from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. But music has always been my passion. So, I decided to follow it and use my talents in music to inspire people. It is also a source of livelihood for me.
How about your family background?
I am the first girl in a family of six: I have three sisters and two brothers. We all love music, but not all of us are into music, professionally. For now, I am the only professional musician in my family. But one of my brothers is a music producer and rap artiste. The rest of my family members are in other professions. I love my mother a lot because she has been my pillar of strength. Sometimes, we even think that she is a super woman and forget that she is human.