For Okpiaifo Blessing Akhere, the journey into the music world is fueled by sincere passion. Going by the simple alias, Akhere, the one-half of a twin hails from Edo State and is an Economics graduate from the Lagos State University. Having trained as a flight attendant, she says, she came to the realisation that she was destined to do music. In this interview with Ovwe Medeme, she talks about music, relationship and family.
AS an economist, why did you choose to do music?
I have always loved music. I have been singing as a child. Back then, music wasn’t really well appreciated. By the time I graduated from school, I decided to face reality. I felt it was wiser then to have a monthly paying job but I wasn’t getting the satisfaction. It was from one problem to another. Not because I didn’t love the job. I loved the job but that satisfaction; I never derived any form of it.
All of a sudden, my twin sister called me up from the states asking about the songs I had written. I had to go back to look for them. I couldn’t find them at the beginning but later on, I found them. I couldn’t even remember some of them. I have always loved music but at some point, I decided to take it up as a profession, it wasn’t a decision I took on my own. I stumbled into it but ever since, it has been wonderful. For the first time, I have found satisfaction and fulfillment. Luckily, it is something I have always loved. It has been awesome and rewarding.
Professionally, how long have you been singing?
Professionally, I have been singing for two years now. On a general note, I have been singing as a kid. I joined the junior choir in the church. From there, I progressed to the senior choir where I still sing today. I worship at the Brotherhood of the Cross and Star.
So far, would you say music has given you the fulfillment you desire?
Yes, it has.
How would you describe it?
It is a feeling that really, I can’t describe but I am happy doing what I am doing, in spite of the challenges, its ups and downs. I am sincerely fulfilled and I am satisfied. At the beginning, I thought music won’t put food on the table for me so I decided to settle for a salary paying job which never gave me that. Instead, I spent more and got nothing. For music, I have not spent so much but with what I have gotten, I can easily pay my bills. I am not getting the kind of money more established artistes are getting but so far, it has paid my bills and most of all, I am happy and fulfilled.
Have you had that experience where OAPs demand money from you before airing your music?
So far, I have not but at the same time, I know there are places I cannot just go into without the cash.
What kind of songs do you play?
I do RnB/Hip Hop with an African feel.
Do you have an album yet?
Not yet, but I have been releasing singles. I am promoting two songs at the moment. I did a sing Today na Today and I have a video of that on TV Stations. Recently, I also came out with a new single titled Gaga. That is also enjoying airplay on radio stations. So far, people really love the song so it has been okay.
What themes do you sing about?
I sing about life, love, joy, sadness, the gospel and just about any life’s issues. I have not limited myself to a particular theme. I believe as musicians, we should be versatile so I do everything and anything that comes to my mind, so long as at the end of the day, my listeners enjoy it.
Coming from a church background, people will expect you to do gospel music
As a growing kid, I started with writing gospel songs. I still have a lot of them but from there, that basically inspired me to want to spread my wings. Since then, I have been able to write secular songs which I didn’t think I would do at the beginning. At the beginning I intended doing just gospel music but I later realised that wasn’t enough for me. I just wanted to spread my wings.
How do your church members react when they hear your songs?
They are proud of me. Knowing the kind of church I attend, it is a white garment church and it is a very spiritual place. To them, it is a big deal that somebody could come out from that background because the kind of songs we sing is actually different from the songs you hear out there. To them, it is rare.
How did your parents react when you left your chosen career for music?
My mum saw it in me from the beginning and she encouraged me to enroll in a music school but I didn’t buy then. At some point, I saw myself wanting to go that path but as I grew older, I felt I needed to face reality so I wasn’t really concentrating so much on it. She knew I would go very far. For me, it is all about the passion. My parents were never against it. My father only needed to be sure if that was what I wanted but when he saw the passion and aggression with which I pursued my career, he was actually the one who took me to location where I shot my video. For my mother, she has derived a level of fulfillment because she saw me going that path from the onset and she encouraged me.
When is your album coming out?
Since I don’t really have a backbone yet, I feel it doesn’t really make sense coming out with an album so I have decided to just be releasing singles till I am buoyant enough or I’m able to get a sponsor.
Are you in talks with any record label?
One at the moment has approached me but so far, nothing concrete is going on.
Who is Akhere?
I am a down-to-earth person, if you get to know me very well. I am very humble, God-fearing, understanding, a passionate hard worker. When I want something, I go for it, no matter how much people try to discourage me.
Are you married?
I am very single.
Are you currently involved with someone?
Presently, I am not but I have lots of admirers. I have chosen not to tie myself to anyone.
Why is that?
For reasons best known to me. I have been in a major one that almost led to marriage and ever since, I have been taking things easy.
Did he break your heart?
He didn’t break my heart. I saw for myself that he wasn’t playing his part like he should. I put my best into it and since he didn’t see that, I decided to walk out of the whole thing. For now, I want to create something tangible for myself instead of building a life around a man. The men are coming but so far, I haven’t found the one I believe is the right one for me.
So in a nutshell, you chose career over family?
I didn’t choose career over family. Pending when it is ripe for family to come, I have chosen to focus on something that will benefit me for once.
Is it that you have always placed others first and it has never worked out for you?
It has not, so far. I still place others before me but right now, I have learnt that at some point in life, for you to be able to climb, you need to be selfish and I am doing that for myself. Not in a negative way but in a positive way.
Is your twin female?
She is female. She is a fuller version of me. That is how I describe her because even before she left the country, she had the tendency to be bigger. Now that she is in the States, she has really grown bigger. That way, people can identify us. Before now, it was hard work identifying us. Even my dad had difficulty differentiating us.
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