With the recent launch of her album titled ‘Amen’, Julietta Ethe, a lawyer by training has shown that her love for music is more than a mere pastime. In this interview with Reporter, Ovwe Medeme, she recounts her foray into the industry, the themes of her songs and why she took a break from banking for her current engagement. Excerpts:
You recently launched your album, what is the new album about?
My new album, titled Amen, to me, is a testimony. It all started when I discovered that sometimes I sang songs I had never heard before. There was a voice in me asking me to write the songs down and perform them. For some time, I had been suffering from severe ulcer. So, I made a pact with God that if he healed my ulcer and gave me the grace to fast, I would obey the voice in my head asking me to do the songs. And so on February 1 last year, I embarked on a whole month fast. Even though at a point, I had the urge to break it, I held on to the promise of God. At the end of the fast, I knew I had been healed of my ulcer and I went down on my knees to pray. While still on my knees, He (God) gave me a song titled: Thank You Lord. That was how my music career came to be. I needed to obey him and do what I have been divinely inspired to do.
What is the story behind your song, God Bless Nigeria?
God Bless Nigeria is not in my Amen album. What happened was that as the album launch was approaching, I thought to myself that I would like to do a song titled God Bless Nigeria at the opening. So I did the song and the reaction the song got from the audience was awesome. The chairman of the event Chief Richard Akinjide (SAN) and other dignitaries there felt the song was awesome because it is one that extols the virtues of Nigeria. It is a song that says among great nations of the earth, may the name of Nigeria be heard; among great people of the earth, may our names be heard. The song says that let every good thing come from us, because this is our only home on earth. The chorus is in three major Nigerian languages. During the album launch, when the chairman was making his opening remarks, he said that the song inspired him so much and he would want such songs to be played regularly for people to realise that truly, this is the only home we have. He said that the song comes at a good time to complement the rebranding effort of the honourable Minister for Information. Immediately after the album launch, I started receiving calls from people who bought the Amen album, saying that God Bless Nigeria is not in it. That week, we had to rush to the studio to record the song. Presently the song is enjoying good airplay and we have been receiving positive feedback from listeners.
When did the music thing start for you?
Contrary to what most music artists say, for me, the music thing started only very recently. I never thought I would be a singer. I was never a member of any choir. It all started January last year when I began to feel that the lord was leading me to sing.
Why did you choose Amen as a title for the album?
Amen as a title stems from the fact that for me it is like saying: ‘yes Lord, let your will be done.’
What response did you receive at the album launch?
It was really awesome. The turnout was fantastic. Also, it was an opportunity for me to share my testimony with people. A lot of people who know me have wondered where the music comes from, because they know I have never had music in me. So my testimony was video taped and it was played that day. Some of those who were there at the album launch said it struck a chord in them. I receive feedback from people that they have listened to the songs and that they were inspired. I had done a couple of radio interviews and the calls we received from listeners were quite encouraging.
As one who was a banker, couldn’t you have done music side by side your regular job?
I wouldn’t say that I totally left the banking job. I am on what you can call a long vacation, because I want to do the much I can before going back to work. Doing music was an opportunity for me to take a much deserved rest.
When you eventually decided to do music, did you ever experience a situation where you almost changed your mind?
At almost every stage, it was like that for me. At a time, I even prayed for God to release me from the mission so that I can go back to my quiet way of life. However, at every such stage, I kept drawing strength from above. Few days before the album launch, I had a strong urge to count my loss and move on with what I was into because it is a completely different terrain from what I have ever done. I never anticipated that at this point in my life, I will be doing this.
What challenges did you face in the course of putting the album together?
First of all, apart from singing along with the congregation in church and listening to music in my car and at home, I have never been a professional singer. As a result of that, I had to learn some basic rudiments in music. I had to do some voice training and basically, it has not been an easy ride. It was not what I envisaged at the beginning. The important thing is that I feel led and I am doing it in obedience to God. Also, I had never sung before an audience before but I had to do that for my album launch and it took all the courage I had in me.
The first time you had to face the audience, did you experience any stage fright?
I didn’t because having known it was what I had to do, I had psyched myself spiritually. I read all the verses I thought I could read to strengthen me. I told myself that if I got on stage and showed some stage fright, then it would all be over. So I was prepared.
So far, how well paying will you say the album has been?
It hasn’t started to pay me really, but I am still hopeful. The album is young. We just launched it this month, so we are keeping our fingers crossed.
In the event that it doesn’t pay you, do you hope to come out with another album?
For now, I have done this Amen album in obedience to God and eventually, it might be all God has called me to do. I don’t know if I would come out with another album whether this one pays or not.
Having taken a break from banking, what do you miss most about the banking industry?
To be honest, I don’t miss anything. I feel great that I am able to take a holiday. Now, I am able to spend a lot more time with my family. I am feeling actually liberated.
How do you write your songs?
Most of the time, these songs just come to me, and I find myself writing them down. In the process of writing them down, I discover that the songs are very relevant. That is because the message touches me and as a result, I believe that it will equally touch others as well.
Who is Julietta?
My full name is Julietta Ethe, from Delta State and married with kids. I had some of my growing up days in Benin and in Warri. As for my education, I graduated from Ambrose Ali University as a Lawyer, after which I came to Lagos for my Law School.