By Anthony Obi
Her name no doubt rings bell in the music industry. Although for a while, she has not been heard and her fans have never stopped wondering what has been happening to her. The ex-beauty queen disclosed that she has been working on her new album and other projects. Kween Onokala, mother of two, also has the intention of ending her career as a gospel artiste. In this chat with Saturday Sun, she talks about her life and other issues.
For some time now, you seem to have abandoned music. What is happening?
A lot is happening. You have not heard so much about me in a while because we are recording my next album. On the side, I have other projects that I am working on but I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag yet.
How did you get into music?
It started in the church choir. That was where I discovered my love for music. Professionally, I started with a life band where I was a lead singer for a number of years and it has been music all through. Few years after, I came out with my own single, Oluronbi. In that album, I featured Pasuma and I have never looked back ever since. The music lives with me all the way.
You started music in the church, why did you choose to sing secular music instead of gospel?
I think everybody is going back to gospel at the end of the day. However, remember that there are so many of us who started from the church that are into secular music now. I don’t think it is a problem because somehow, we still play gospel. Mind you, gospel music is about preaching positive things. So, the inspirational songs which I do, is my own way of preaching morals.
You said everybody would have to go back to gospel. Do you have such intentions?
Yes! I will by the grace of God. There is a supreme being up there, God our father, who I solely and strongly believe in. I appreciate Him for everything and for everyday. So, it will be great to go back that way and let people know whom you are with. If you are with God, let people know it through your music because your music is what everybody listens to.
Are you saying that your songs now don’t show that you are on His side?
I did not say so. I have told you that I do inspirational songs and they teach morals. I am only saying that He is the reason for everything and we should go back to Him.
How was your growing up?
My growing up was okay. I grew up in Abeokuta in Ogun State. I had my education there. My growing up was fun. It was the best time of my life. It is the time when you don’t have responsibility or think of anything. All I did then was to listen to my parents, go to school, eat, play and grow up. To be honest, I had the best as a child.
Can you recall the pranks you played as a kid?
I did not play pranks. I was and I’m still a good girl.
Aside music, what other things do you do?
Everything I do revolves around music. However, I am still into business.
What part of the country are you from?
I am from Abia State but my husband is from Lagos State, so I don’t really know where I should claim fully now.
What attracted you to your husband?
So many things but the most striking thing is that he has a great attitude. He has a great personality and that endeared me to him.
How old is your marriage?
We have been together for almost 10 years, but married for just three years.
Would you say that break-up of marriages among celebrities is as a result of not courting for a long time?
It is difficult to ascertain what exactly the problem is because the causes differ. It is a sensitive issue but no marriage is perfect. People have faced different challenges in marriage and some were not handled very well. I don’t blame those who left their marriages because I do not know what they are going through. If a marriage is hot for someone, I think the person should separate. Nevertheless, I am not saying that it is good to have a broken home. My best wish for people is for God to keep them together in their marriages and give them lovely and happy homes.
Music as a career is time consuming and keeping a home is another task. How do you juggle the two?
I am able to juggle it by the grace of God. Most importantly, I am also able to juggle it because, I have a husband who supports me and does not restrict what I have to do. More so, as a woman I have this ability to do multitask. The ability I am talking about is in all women. It is our God-given gifts. So, these are my secrets.
How does your husband react to passes made to you by male fans?
My husband is a very confident man and he knows the wife he married. So, nothing shakes him.
You are married with kids, yet you look trendy. What is the secret?
The secret behind every human being is with God. God created everything and I appreciate Him for that. Meanwhile, I have learned to take care of myself because if you don’t, you will look different. I know it is a problem with most women but we should be able to take care of our children even after them.
What has sustained you so far in the industry?
What has sustained me is my passion for music. I love music from the depth of my heart. Despite the fact that I am unique in my own way, I must attribute my sustenance to God who has given me the grace. My music is unique. I am hard working and not the lazy type who waits for things to happen. I make efforts.
What is your sell point?
Jesus is my selling point. He is all I have.
You sound so religious, how close are you to God?
I am extremely close to God. I am a wife, mother and an individual who has loved ones around her. If you don’t have God, everything can just go away. So, you need to have God to keep you sane and stable. You need that foundation in your life. I have always had Him as a child going to church. He is still in me and He will never leave me.
Can you share your time as a model with us, particularly as Miss Tourism?
I wish it were now that I won that. I wish I were that young again to do it because it was fun. Miss Abuja was my first beauty pageant and I was the first runner-up and then Miss Tourism. It was fantastic. It was a good experience for me and one that the memory would never leave me. I like it all.
What project did you carry out as a beauty queen then?
I didn’t really do much. They didn’t give me so many tasks to do. I guess it was one of those things that just started then. As a result, they did not put the structures together very well. You know when you start something new; you will have lapses which you will close up as time goes on. They have got it right. However, I did much of official assignments. All I know is that I walked away with a car.
These days most queens don’t get their prizes, as at when due, was it like that during your time?
I got my prize. I got a Mercedes Benz. It wasn’t that case for me. They gave all they promised they would give the winner and the runner-up. To the best of my knowledge, they were credible.
How do you spend your leisure time?
I spend my leisure time with my kids. We do a lot of shopping. We never get tired of that. I also watch movies with them. Another good way I relax is to sleep.
Men seem to be making it in the industry more than women, what is your take?
I guess it is because more men are in the industry and people pay more attention to them. Maybe because, in this part of the world people believe that women should take the back seat and should not be given the opportunity.
What informs your fashion sense?
My dressing has to do with how I feel on a particular day. I always like to feel comfortable, sexy and feel good about myself. So, I make sure how I want to feel is what I wear.
What inspires you to sing?
What inspire my songs really are life experiences and what other people go through. I like to be in touch with people and reality. I don’t think about what does not exist or can’t be.
What is the legacy you will like to leave behind?
I will like to be known as someone who has inspired people and touched people’s lives positively. There is nothing better than leaving a good name.
What are the challenges you are facing as a musician?
There are many challenges but the greatest is the one every other person goes through which is having to deal with marketers. Most times, you finish your work and you can’t move it. You may not be lucky enough to get a marketer that would be committed to it. The most annoying part is that before the work comes out, your songs are already on compilation. So, it is like you are working so hard and someone is out there reaping your efforts. I have been through it, so I know what I am talking about. So many structures are not in place. You can’t find good marketers, managers and other things that make it easy for artistes.
What is the saddest thing that has ever happened to you?
It is not for me to keep remembering my bad experiences because it is a thing of the past. There is no person who doesn’t go through obstacles in their life, career, marriage and home. I am one of those, so I like to leave my past behind and take what I have learnt from that into the present day so that I can have more good things to say about myself. That is how I feel. And I have gone through those terrible times I don’t want to think about. I just want to progress in life and career. I do the best I can in order not to repeat my mistakes.
What are the memorable things that have happened to you?
The best thing that has happened in my life is to have children. There is nothing as sweet as that. In my career, it is the awards that I have won. It feels good to be rewarded for your efforts.
What is your advice to youths who want to go into music?
In this part of the world, when people see that something is the in-thing, everybody just goes that way. Music is not for everybody but people don’t want to know. All they know is that they want to sing. That is why they fade out with time. I don’t discourage anybody because if you do, they will think that you don’t want them to do music. You have to let people go through their own experiences, make their own mistakes, learn and re-strategize. That is it.