Tuesday, 17 May 2016

CONTINUATION OF KEMI the accountant turned Musician, Writer, Entertainer Interview

I discovered my drumming talents when I was in JSS 1 at Lagos State Model College, Badore. I started with drumming on table tops and on wardrobe doors. Then I moved on to the real drums - conga and later played the snare drum as a member of the Boys' Brigade of Nigeria.

I also discovered my love for the turntables when I was in JSS 3. I would do mix tapes with the aid of my father's turn table and his record player and play it for my sisters and friends. I never got the chance to play my mixtapes or DJ at parties because my parents forbade me to attend any. 

I did not pursue my music career early in life like I wanted to because my parents did not support the idea. I always wanted to study music and theatre arts but I was not supported. My parents thought it would be more sensible to study a commercial or science course at most, an art course like law.

I believe that if I started out early, I would have gone further that where I am now, musically.

My husband was also a stumbling block. He is no longer in the picture of my success. This is the reason I advise singles to marry a partner who will support their dreams or much better, live your dreams and meet your partner whilst at it so that he or she already meets you doing that thing that you do. It is a mistake to try to change your partner. That relationship will crumble however hard you try.

My parents always think I am not a serious person. They say I am just fooling around with music and wasting my time that I should focus on my real career which is accounting.

My siblings too are not doing what they studied in school so they understand my drift but they do not understand how the music industry works and how I make my money.

With respect to the business side, I do not regret working in the bank and wasting my time instead of doing music early. That experience has given me the experience of how to run and manage my business. I was able to see how work flowed from one stage to the other. I also learnt how to market my business and approach a client.

With respect to the creative side of making and performing music, I regret wasting my time in the bank because the younger one is in the industry; the more opportunities are available as a performing artiste.

It does not matter what anybody thinks. I am doing my music and music business for myself, my clients and my children. It is also from this career that I will support my parents. They have no choice but to accept me and my career.

I will try my best to do what I can do. Tuna Turner was about 46 when she wrote the hit song, what’s love got to do with it? I am still in my 30s. I will never lose hope.

My children support, always support me. My oldest son is a guitarist and he also wants to be a professional basketball player and business man, my second son is a drums set player and he also wants to be a chef and a media personality. My last born loves to sing and he wants to be a doctor.

My greatest challenge is finance. Music is a very expensive career with respect to recording of an album, shooting of music videos, radio and TV promotions, music tours, business development and accounting.

There are no music grants or loans for the music business in Nigeria. Banks and other financial institutions say that we do not have tangible products to work with; our industry is risky. What if the songs do not sell?! Bla, bla, bla! I have been there before, I mean as a banker and auditor. I understand their point of view, but there has to be a change!
The entertainment industry must have a proper structure to work with so that it will be easy for the financial institutions to assist us.

The beginning of a proper entertainment industry starts with the artiste himself. Does the artiste keep proper accounting records? Does he have a bank account dedicated solely to music or acting or comedy business? These are the things that the financial institutions will work with. Even when the government starts to give grants and support to us, these are the necessary requirements that they will want to see. I am aware of this because of my background in accounting.

Abroad, there are art and music grants and soft loan for musicians and artistes collected from the government or charity or foundation organizations. In Nigeria, an artiste does everything himself and before he can get signed to a record label to help share in this burden, it is a tedious journey.

People are yet to recognise that music is an intellectual property like fixed assets. They are reluctant to pay for music performances and royalties.

People will want you to perform for free especially if one is not yet known and in the A list category. They tell you that they want to showcase you and thus, they are doing you a favour. They do not put into consideration, the amount of school fees that you spent in music school, the cost of purchasing your musical instruments and cost of maintenance, duration of time to learn the musical instruments, duration of time it to compose a melody or write the lyrics of a song, transportation cost to and from the music school and the said event, cost of data for self-improvement, etc.

Another challenge is that music promotions are overpriced. Every promoter wants to get paid for helping out to play your song on radio and TV. DJs too want to collect money. As a DJ, I do not collect money for playing a song. I feel that if the artist appreciates one's effort, he or she can now appreciate me with a token. I feel that on air personalities and DJs should also adopt this attitude. It is an unfair system and we are making it worse and tougher for upcoming acts if this trend continues.

If one is able to do adequate promotions and the listeners and audience like your music, one can make it big in this industry. Without persistence, endurance, faith and a business sense, it is impossible to succeed in the music business.


I am already working on my debut album; 18 tracks in all. I have changed the title several times but think I will stick to this title, MY FREEDOM! This is because this album signifies the fights and struggles I had to and that I am still going through to achieve my dreams of being a musician. Notice the exclamation mark. It goes to say, han, han, after all these years, it is time for people to hear my voice and what I have to sing. Can she even sing sef?!

By the way, DJ Irawo sings in Yoruba and English languages.

The album has the following titles: Hello, Ojumo, Ire, Butter my daily bread, Iwaju, Moonlight Whispers, Adewale Mi, A promise is a debt, Double Wahala, My Freedom, Mama at Baba mi, Woman Arise; Do your thing!, Welcome to Lagos, Dab!, Masterpiece, Memories, as simple as ABC, Go for gold, Ule ya!

I intend to shoot music videos for all of my songs and promote them at specific intervals.

I intend to go on tour of Lagos, Nigeria, Africa and the world as a DJ and as a jazz musician, promoting my music and Nigerian music.

I am available for speaking engagements for any of the topics related to the theme of my songs and all aspects of my music career.

I intend to register and sit for the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITN). Taxation was my best subject in school. I want to increase my knowledge in it and I am sure that it will also help me in my career as a business manager.

I intend to expand my business and invest in other fields outside music.

Talented persons are in the bank because they are used to the system. They are afraid of a change. They are pessimistic. What if it does not work out? What if I am not able to get another job if it does not work out?

The truth is twenty years from now, they will be disappointed by the things they did not do, than by the things they did do.

It will be lovely to be on my death bed in my old age and I am smiling because I did everything that I wanted to do in life and that I was successful at it.


The parents are making a big mistake and that is where the guidance
councillor comes in. It is her job to help the child make a worthwhile decision and speak on behalf of that child to his parents. She could go further by studying the child's academic performance and interest so that the child will choose the right career path in life.

The choice of a career starts to take shape from the higher secondary school classes. This is where students choose to be in science, social or art classes. After helping to determine the class that a child should be from this category, it is now broken down to what that child wants to study in that area in the higher institutions.

Parents will be acting wrongly if they force their wards into a certain career path against their wish. It will affect the psychology of that child and he or she will become depressed and some people in the past have committed suicide. Some parents want their children to carry on the family business. This is wrong!
The best they can do is to guide the child on how to sell off their business and give the proceeds to the child if he is not interested in following that career path, with the help of a lawyer or run that business with the help of a care taker.

Parents also need to study their children to know their strengths. In my first GCE exams in SS 2, I scored an F9 in accounting. Because of this bad score, I did not register for it in my SSCE. I passed the 8 subjects that I sat for excellently, including my best subject at that time, literature in English in which I also had a distinction. In my second GCE that I took, because my mother was not satisfied with the credit grade that I had in economics in my first GCE, I also scored an F9 in accounting.

I looked forward to studying music and theatre arts in the higher institution but my parents wanted me to study a commercial course even though I scored F9 in accounting, twice! In those days, that was the trend. A serious child would have to be studying medicine, accounting, economics or law. Other courses were considered to be inferior.


My advice to these young unhappy people is to do an online research and take an online test to be sure that they can thrive in this career. They should humbly have a conversation with their parents about this issue. If this does not work, they should seek the help of their school's guidance
counsellor who I believe should be able to speak to the parents on the child's behalf.

If all the above does not work, the child should seek the help of close family members to intervene and if this last resort does not work, the child should just do the course that he wants to do. He can change his course whilst in school and inform his parents later. In the university, I wanted to change my course to theatre arts, but unfortunately, the course was not offered in the school at that time.

I guess you have heard about notable people in Nigeria today who changed their courses without their parents' consent and they succeeded at that career. Examples of such people are Fela Anikulapo Kuti who was supposed to be studying medicine but switched his course to music. Another person I know is Princess the comedian. Whilst a student of the University of Lagos, she switched from engineering to theatre arts. She is doing well for herself today.

The message here is to stick to what you believe you can do. Successful people are positively stubborn. Do not be intimidated. All the best!


Anonymous said...


Gbenga said...

Beautiful mind, beautiful thoughts, beautiful philosophy. She caps those attributes with deep understanding of life and the way it works.