Awele Okoro, popularly known as Essence spoke with Temitope David-Adegboye on how she is surviving as a female artiste and how her career has affected her wardrobe How is your latest album doing in the market? It’s doing well and we pray it will do better. It’s widely accepted as it gets called for and we are seeing the reward of hard work How did you get into music? I’ll say music started right from my childhood days. I started doing national anthem at events from age 8 and then I started doing backups for various artistes. Later I went for a talent hunt -Strong Tower Talent Show. There I met Kenny Saint Brown who was one of the judges. She told me I came first on her list and that she didn’t understand why others thought otherwise. I actually came second overall. She picked me up from there and started training and teaching me the rudiments of the trade. I had the basic knowledge but you know, I was coming from the church. She now broaden my horizon, introduced me to a lot of people in the entertainment industry as a whole and basically gave me the courage to face the crown and relate with my fans. What year was this? Between 1998 and 1999 So we can conclude that you owe your exposure and fame to KSB. Definitely. She took me in hand and guided me through the rough terrain as a burdened artist. Ask anybody, it’s really difficult for any burden artist getting people to listen to you or even believing in you to give you a chance to even express your talent. She gave me that platform and I took it. I had the knowledge a bit but I was coming from the church. How did you get to do the Super Story sound track? We went for a breakfast show and she introduced me to the producer. She told him to listen to me that I can sing. He started playing the key board and I started singing to it. So, he said there is this new soap opera that will soon come on air and he asked if I’ll like to do the sound track. I looked at him and said of course, why not? And then we did the sound track and thank God, it went well. And over the year it’s like it’s been all over the place. When I went to Ghana and sang it, the whole place went wild and I was like wow! I never knew it was that acceptable. For a female artiste, how easy is it finding a voice of your own in the entertainment industry? We are still struggling because the guys have taken almost all the spaces on the ground so we are still struggling to take up the bits and pieces here and there. But thank God, it’s getting better. As I always say gbogbo wa ni boys (we are all boys); we all behave like and tell ourselves that this is our business and we have to take it higher. But the fans are beginning to request for more female artiste and I want to use this medium to plead with the powers that be to include us in their plans. We do the same things that the guys do; we go to the studios, pay the same bills, we are not given any concession as females. So I want to beg on behalf of myself and other female artistes that this is a job that we do because of the passion and we also want to make people happy; it will be good to add a bit of feminism to the industry and not just have guys, guys, guys everywhere Would you say your career has brought you fortune than fame? The fame is more than the fortune. I must speak the truth here. Fame is more than the fortune. However, sometimes the fame brings favours than money can’t quantify. It brings respects and accolades that money can’t quantify. I think fame is more How has your career affect your wardrobe? On my wardrobe? Oh my God, it’s terrible on my pocket. I buy clothes almost on daily basis. Because when you wear something to an event, you can’t wear it again. So, you have keep replacing. My sisters are always on standby to take all those ones I can’t wear again. It’s crazy on my pocket but I guess if there is anything like good craziness, this is one. Sometimes I wear a dress and I like it so much and it hurts that I won’t wear it again What would I find most in your wardrobe? Before you’ll encounter trousers, trouser, trousers but now, you’d find gowns, gowns, gowns. Any reason for the change? I don’t know. I’ve just fallen in love with them. And then, shoes and bags. I have a lot of shoes and bags too How many bags do you have? I can’t count. I put them in one bag and sometimes forget that I have some. However, I’m still building my repertoire I see you have a new hair cut. Why did you go with this style? I needed to cut my hair because it had weak ends. So my hairstylist took it off. After which he said why do I put a bit of bizarre in because I’m not an ordinary person. I said why not. So, he added this. How do you feel about it? Good. It gets me noticed, doesn’t it? When will wedding bell ring? It will, when it will. I can’t say for now but I know it will certainly ring one day What does the future hold for Essence? I like to take it one step at a time. Anything can happen. Life itself is unpredictable. I’m ready for any unpredictable event, God help me
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