If you’re not familiar with Evaezi then maybe you have been living under a rock for the past couple of years. In her “X” number of years in this life, and in this industry she has been through her fair share of ups and downs. From smashing her voice box in an accident to an extensive rebranding process which we all know is never easy in this industry.
In addition you can count multiple singles, and award nominations, the likes under her belt. Without revealing too much about the interview let’s get right into it.
Aribaba: For those who don’t know who you are, Please introduce yourself
Evaezi: My full name is Evaezihifue Ogoro, stage name Evaezi. I used to be called Eva D’ Diva. I was born July 13 198’none of your business lol. I am a graduate of University of Lagos where I studied English Language. I sing, I write, I’m trying out acting and production and I’m also into business management; I’m basically a Jill of all trades. I used to be in a family band, my dad used to literally force us to be a traditional band. It was horrible lol. I’m Isoko, from Delta state but my mum is Urhobo. Erm… what else? I’m not married and I don’t have kids.
Aribaba: A lot of people up until the past few months have known you as a singer, how did you get into music and at what point did you say ‘I want to get into music?’
Evaezi: Well, I wasn’t thinking about it in secondary school but my mates would drag me to the seniors’ hostel telling them I could sing, then I’d sing a little something for them. But I’ve always wanted to sing, ever since I was a kid. I grew up watching Whitney Houston’s live performances. I was and I still am into live performances ever since I watched Whitney Houston perform the American National Anthem at a football game. It was a divine performance and since then I knew that that was exactly what I wanted to do. It wasn’t so much about the fame, it was the relevance. She was like the voice of America at that time, and I thought “This is the point I want to get to in my life”; whereby I would be relevant with my music and with my presence at a particular place. So I did a lot of lip syncing to the songs of famous musicians like: Mariah Carey, Tony Braxton, Mary J Blige and others. I always tried to sing it exactly as they did… adlibs and all. I didn’t go to any music school or have any voice training… that’s how I developed my voice.
Then in 1997, we were involved in an accident. Let’s just say after that accident was when this vocal texture I have now appeared. Because I crushed my voice box in the accident. We were speeding home after a performance, the tyre burst, the car somersaulted and unfortunately for me, the car landed on my side. The irony is; before the journey my sister and I were arguing on who would sit on THAT side of the car. The car was sliding into a gulley when it landed, (this happened on ore road) a vine was wrapped around my neck and it was pulling me as the car was sliding in the opposite direction. It was just a little tree that held the car from tumbling over into a very large gulley. I was kind of blacking in and out. We got to the hospital, the doctor examined me and out of everybody I sustained the most injuries. My sister had a scratch on her shoulder; my dad had an old wound reopen on his ankle and my brother a broken wrist. I was the one with a fractured spinal cord, a crushed voice box and a narrowing trachea. So I couldn’t walk, talk or do anything.
It’s a long story; at a point my trachea closed and I couldn’t breathe, the nurses didn’t notice I was going pale. I was trying to signal them but I finally got the attention of one, then they rushed me to the resuscitation room but the two oxygen tanks were empty. They got the suction machine to suck out what was blocking my airways, (which was dangerous). They were going to call the electrician which we learned had gone to the village to see his wife.
Aribaba: I noticed you mentioned Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston & Tony Braxton. I guess those are your influences, what other artists influence/influenced you? Especially when you started getting active in music?
Evaezi: Yes they are. somewhere there along the line in terms of local content. My mum also influenced me. She’s a great singer in the bathroom (laugh). Well inside and outside. Also, She sings with so much heart and soul that she doesn’t care if she’s singing off tune. So when I sing, I remember how the music The late Whitney Houston is number 1. I guess Esse Agesse was causes her to transcend out of this mortal place. So I guess those are my major influences in.
Aribaba: Being a woman in Nigeria professionally is tasking. And the entertainment industry (the music sector in particular) is dominated by men. So tell me how it has been, being a woman in the music industry; the struggles or the benefits if there are any.
Evaezi: I can’t say this enough; As much as I would like to play the weaker sex card, the truth of the matter is the men are hard working. They know what they want and they go for it. They are up 3am in the morning, working. We women spend most of our time shopping for the latest shoes, what is reigning now from Prada to Fendi, to Brazilian, Mexican, Nigerian weaves and all that crap. We are concentrating on looking good, and we don’t care about the art anymore.
We believe that our body parts ought to get us to where our male counterparts are. And I’m not going to throw that line and say the industry is difficult for women. Because the truth of the matter is in the days of Christy Essien Igbokwe and Onyeka Onwenu, these women practically ran the industry in their time. You could not mention music without mentioning Christy Essien Igbokwe or Onyeka Onwenu. We just need to work harder. Forget all that crap about we are all women and no one is giving us attention, WORK for goodness sake. I’m not there yet, I’m also struggling to be relevant with my music, and I’m also struggling to get that successful brand in
Nigeria and beyond. We don’t have internationally known female artists except Asa, Sade Adu and those people who have paid the price, who are willing to pay the price. We just need to work, it’s not that difficult. The industry doesn’t owe us any free entry ticket to fame and fortune; we just have to work like everyone else. It’s that simple.
Aribaba: One of your most popular songs ‘God hand’, it has a very strong message. How did it come together?
Evaezi: ‘God hand’ was written at that point where I was frustrated. It just seemed like I was working and I wasn’t seeing the fruit of my labor. It seemed like I could see my destination but there were thick headed asses standing in the way of me and my destination and I couldn’t lash out at them because I had a manager who always said “In this industry you can’t afford to make enemies, just keep quiet and keep smiling”. So my way of escape was writing that song.
There is a particular industry folk, he’s quite popular (I can’t mention his name); he approached my manager that he was going to get me on some shows but he’s going to take 40% of whatever I make. And my manager said if he (the artist) takes 40% and he (my manager) takes 30%, what will I have left? And you won’t believe it, that guy shut down that show. He made sure I didn’t get it. Then there were some radio hosts, who whenever I approached them to play my songs, they would take my CD and ask for money. And money wasn’t growing on trees at that time. I mean, I believe in appreciating people but I didn’t have to give at that point. They literally threw my CD into the bin. I was too frustrated, and that was when I wrote that song.
Gbenga Salu who shot the video was shooting a video for ‘NA SO’ at the time. When they paused to get the lighting right, the DJ played the song (God Hand) by mistake. He (Gbenga Salu) looked at me, ran up to me and said “I’m begging you I want to shoot the video for this song. As a matter of fact, I’ll shoot it for free”. I was like “Really?” He was like “Yes, the message of this song applies to so many Nigerians and so many working class people who are trying to make their way in the world and they see some very arrogant people that just don’t want others to succeed”. So I guess that’s how the song came about.
Aribaba: So, you mentioned you’re getting into movies. And I have to ask, what’s the inspiration behind that series ‘ODIRI’?
Evaezi: I’ve always had a very wild imagination and in school, my lecturers told me that as well. So I used to date this particular guy who always told me I needed to write a book. Truth is once I hear ‘a book’, I just fall asleep. (laughs) I’m not a reader, people don’t know that! I thought writing a book was too tedious, so for some reason – I want to believe it was God – I got the idea to break it down into series instead of writing a whole book. So I decided to write about stuff that people don’t talk about. Being a very open person, I believe if I can do something, I should be able to talk about it. I didn’t want to write a normal boring book that just had to do with juju; you know the normal Nollywood scenario. I wanted something that was quite real and captivating, interesting, different, something part of Nigeria that was also not really Nigerian. I chose to write about sex, incest, rape, arranged marriages… everything! I never know what the next episode will be about, I just sit down with my laptop and it starts to flow. It’s not like I know the end of the series myself; it’s not pre-meditated.
The name ODIRI is my aunt’s name (my favorite aunt). It means Patience. I’m rubbish at naming things, I hate naming things, so when I started writing I was thinking “What am I going to call this?” And then I realized I was writing about a particular person; a girl who was going through a lot of crap and of course if you’re going to go through tough times, you’re going to need a lot of patience and courage. So I decided on ODIRI, I love the name.
Aribaba: You have a good number of hits under your belt, of recent ‘Tonight ft Goldie’ which is also very interesting. So what’s next for you?
Evaezi: I guess I’m just pacing myself. I don’t want to get swamped or overwhelmed in all I’m trying to do. But this is the major project I’m working on (I’m not yet sure on a lot of things like the timing though); Odiri is going to come out as a book. Hopefully if I get a very good producer and Director, it MIGHT come out as a film as well. Of course I’m working on a double CD album which will present my Old and New styles; a sequel to my recent EP called ‘WHISPERS’. I’m also in touch with a particular Tv channel to get my own show called ‘EVAEZI’S LOUNGE’. I have my events and Management Company as well. But my music remains paramount. SO once the album is out I’ll probably be able to relax and focus on the other things I have on my plate.
Aribaba: What would you say is the sexiest thing about a man to you?
Evaezi: LOVE YOU IDRIS ELBA!!!!! (screaming) lmao A great smile and that James Bond kinda look (laugh). I’m an eyes and lips person.
Aribaba: If you weren’t into music and entertainment, what else would have been doing?
Evaezi: I probably would have been a school teacher. Yea, I love kids and I think we have a problem with education all over the world. I’m not just talking about academics; I’m talking about morals, etiquette. The men today are becoming angrier and the women are becoming more artificial. There is something wrong somewhere. So yea, I probably would have been a school teacher. We need to start teaching them at a tender age.
Aribaba: What will you say is your favorite past time?
Evaezi: MOVIES!!!!!!!! I could sit down and watch movies ALL DAY EVERYDAY. If you left me in my room with a bunch of movies for a week, you would come back and meet me there. I wouldn’t come out or do anything else. It’s that bad. People who go to watch movies with me at the cinema come out crying because when we come out from one movie, I’m going back to watch another one.
Aribaba: Give the top 5 songs, besides yours that you like.
Evaezi: Bumpy ride by Mumbai, that boy is sexy (laugh). Tuface – Raindrop. That’s 2 right? Whitney Houston – I look to you. Jamie Foxx- your kind. And of course; my baby Tyrese – why you gonna act like that. That’s a baby making song (laugh)
Aribaba: What would you like to be remembered for in the industry?
Evaezi: I entered music because I want to change the world and that’s the truth. I just believed that with my music I was going to be relevant, I was going to be like the musical Mother Theresa or Ghandi… so I want to be remembered that way. Not winning the Grammys (even though it will be nice), that’s not the ultimate price but I want to be remembered as someone who changed the world with her music.
*** Last Words
*** Check out some of Evaezi’s Songs
*** The Break Up Song
*** God Hand Video