Church suspended me for going into showbiz, wearing trousers, music star, Kefee –  By AZUH AMATUS

Kefee

From the constantly troubled and back streets of the

Niger Delta region, Irikefe Obareki, famously known as

Kefee, has sang her way to fame and fortune, thereby

gaining both national and international recognitions.

 

As an inspirational cum gospel musician, sultry Kefee,

has not only traversed the length and breadth of her

crisis ridden Niger Delta region, but the entire

nation, preaching peace and love with her songs and

sonorous voice.

 

In fact, the happily married Branana crooner with two

hit albums to her credit, is seen as a role model to

millions of youths, especially those from her region.

 

In this lovely encounter with AZUH AMATUS, the petite

artiste currently on Alec’s Music passionately took us

down memory lane and revealed how her romance with

music and the klieg lights began.

 

She also spoke on the early challenges, how she

conquered, why she married the boss of her label and

many more.

 

Enjoy the interaction!

 

 

What’s good, what’s new and what’s cooking with Kefee?

 

Everything is good and there are so many things I’m

working on; my new album, I’m also doing the

concluding part of Branama Two. I have Branama One and

Two and the Two has a video CD, it was so because we

could not put all the videos in one CD, so we decided

to break it into parts, it is coming out this December.

In the video, I remixed Branama with Paul Play Dairo,

we did the song in Yoruba and Urhobo. I also worked

with Sunny Neji, Freestyle and other artistes on the

project; in fact, it’s a loaded project. Aside this,

my label, Alec’s Music, is also planning of releasing

other artistes on our label, like Dude Tetsola, Teddy

King and others. Aside the video, I’m also working on

my new album, which I promised my fans, would be out,

hopefully next year. And don’t be surprised to hear

Branama in Spanish, because it’s a good song.

 

What’s the latest on your peace initiatives for the

Niger Delta region?

 

Well, I have done my beat and still doing what I can

to reach out to my Niger Delta people. I had a peace

show tagged Niger Delta Peace Concert, and it was a

huge success and star-studded. It held just a week to

the April elections and people are still talking

about. It was a free concert aimed at bringing peace

to my Niger Delta region. I followed up with another

one, which was also very successful with several

Nollywood stars and musicians.

 

What inspired these concerts?

 

First, Niger Delta is where I come from and I love my

people so much and it was just the little I could do

for peace. Besides, we need so many reasons to be

happy in that area. We also need development in that

area and should not distract good things from coming

to us. The concerts were also another means of telling

the youths to make good use of their time. The world

knows about our plight and it is really time for our

people to dialogue and stop the kidnappings and other

terrible acts going on. With all these in mind, I

decided to embark on the concerts to preach peace and

love. We are also helping one or two children by

seeing them through schools.

 

But how optimistic are you that with concerted efforts

from people like you, the much-eluded peace would

return to the Niger Delta region?

 

I am 100% optimistic that peace would definitely

return soon and this is also the hope of everybody,

especially people from my region.

We are also praying and hoping that things should also

get better for Nigeria. The Niger Delta problem,

affects all Nigerians and not only us. My concerts

would also be held annually. We also want to be

visiting schools and be donating books and other

materials to the students. All these are going to be

done under Kefee Peace Foundation; I don’t want to

call it an NGO yet. I’m doing this, not because I have

so much, but just to touch lives and help humanity in

my own little ways. Besides, instead of dashing out

recharge cards always why not channel the money into

things that are beneficial to the society.

 

In your quest to help advance the course of peace in

the Niger Delta and also assist in ameliorating their

sufferings, what would you say are the major

challenges?

 

Well, personally, I will say finance, because for any

good thing to really work, it must be funded

adequately, especially here in Nigeria. I cry must

times, when I see people suffering and that is why I

always try to help in my own little ways. Since I

can’t do much, let me just contribute my little

efforts towards positive change. So, in essence,

finance remains my major challenge but I’m also trying

my best. Again, if you begin to source for money, a

lot of people will begin to misconstrue your good

intentions. So, I’m very, very careful in soliciting

for funds.

 

How did you come about the name, Kefee?

 

Kefee, was extracted from my real name, Irikefe

Obareki, but now Godwin that I’m married. Sometimes,

in 2000, I released an album with a friend of mine; we

were in a group together and decided to go by the name

Estee and Kefee.

 

Was that how your journey into music started?

 

After releasing with my group in 2000, I think I

started professionally in 2003 and that was when I

released Branama. But the group album was titled

TRIP, fortunately, it was this same Alec’s Music that

released us.

 

Was that also when the ‘toasting’ started?

 

Well, if you say so, but I was still at UniBen then.

Estee, is also the younger sister of my husband. She

is in the US now and works with the U.S Navy. So, I

went solo when she left.

 

What is Branama and where and how did you come about

it?

 

Branama means show-off, shakara, an Urhobo word for

too much effizi. I also showed off with Branama,

because at that point in my life I had reasons to show

off. The album has nine tracks and it’s a gospel work

cum inspirational work. Alec’s Music, which is owned

by my husband, also produced and released the work,

but we did the recording in Port Harcourt. It was a

thanksgiving song and I sing about anything I believe

in, especially God, which I believe in so much. I came

to Lagos fully in 2000. But I started singing from a

church called Temple of Deliverance Ministry in

Sapele, Delta State.

 

Branama was no doubt a massive hit, while you were

recording in the studios, did it ever occur to you it

was going to be a huge success?

 

Yes, I saw it coming, but not like the way it

exploded. Besides, it was not even the major song on

the album and that time too, I was not even a good

songs writer like I am today. Amazingly too, my

husband wrote most of the songs in that album. Then my

husband was always criticizing me, so I was very

reluctant to even sing Branama to him when it was

composed. But surprisingly, the day I sang the song

for him, he liked it and that further encouraged me.

 

But at what age in life did you discover you could

sing very well?

 

Let me say when I was eight, because that was the

first time I sang in my church’s choir, where my

mother is also a member. Amazingly too, my dad loves

music too and gave me N5, the first day I sang in our

choir and that got me excited and further encouraged

  1. I continued from there and kept getting money from

my dad, so at that point, I knew I could sing. You

know, as a Delta State born and brought up girl, I

have always been bold. Truth is that my parents

inspired my music growth and career.

 

So, in essence they supported your music career and

your choice of going into showbiz?

 

Yes, to some extent, but they also had a problem with

me when I wanted to go into it professionally. First,

they wanted me to go through school first, which I did

by reading Public Administration at the University of

Benin. Then, wearing trousers too was an issue,

because my dad was a Deacon in the church. My dad was

shocked the first day he saw me on TV. In fact, my

church suspended me for going into showbiz, as the

director of the choir. They wanted me to cover my

hair, wear long skirts, no earrings and all that, but

I refused.

 

With all these harassments then, how did you feel?

 

I felt bad, but was not ready to give up my dream

because I’m also stubborn. I decided to go on at the

end of the day, even though it was also difficult for

  1. Surprisingly when our G.O returned from his trip

to the U.S, he overruled the church’s decision and

told me to go on.

 

While all these were going on, what was your mum’s

position?

 

My mum was just there giving me words of

encouragements. In fact, it was so tough and rough

that my dad vowed never to pay my school fees again,

which my uncle took over and promised to continue

paying. Deep down, I was not happy that my father was

disappointed in me, but at the same time, I did not

want to give up on music, which I have an undying

passion for. Also, I never allowed stardom to

overwhelm me.

 

And how old were you then?

 

I was about 20 then.

 

But has your dad soft-pedalled?

 

Yeah and he is so happy and proud of me now. When I

released Branama and invited several top dignitaries,

he was overjoyed.

 

You are married to Alec Godwin, the CEO of your record

label, how did your path cross?

 

Well, we met in the same church in Delta State; he was

born in Sapele but from Edo State. His people own the

church. I grew up knowing him in the church. But he

started talking to me in 1998, but I did not take him

serious because I was not interested and very young

then.

 

So, when did you eventually give in to his pressures?

 

Let’s not go into all that now, but he eventually

proposed and we got married in 2005.

 

Have you ever bothered to find out from him, the

things that got him attracted to you?

 

Well, he said my confidence, eyes, especially whenever

I look at him. He also likes my voice. Even when we

were in the choir together, a lot of people always

look down on me because of my age and stature. They

kept saying I should leave because it was not a

children’s choir.

 

For you, what got you attracted to him?

 

(Giggles) He is a very focused and gets something when

he wants it, very straight forward and also, the fact

that he was taller then me.

 

Both of you are in the klieg lights, does that clash

with your personal lives?

 

But we have also been in the showbizness together

before getting married. It does not change anything;

the difference is that I come out of his house every

day.

 

Does your husband treat you like the star you are?

 

Yes, he does, at least “he de try”

 

And how is married life treating you?

 

I have been married since 2005 and we are leaving

happily… It’s been good.

 

What are the challenges of being married to a

celebrity like you too?

 

The fact that he has a record label, which also

released me and based on the success of Branama, he

decided to give a platform to other artistes and also

invested heavily in them. But some of them are turning

against him after all we did to help them. Some of

them even went to the extent of saying that the record

label is using them to build Kefee up, while in the

real reason, the outfit is using my sweat and fame to

promote them. One even had the guts to say that he

joined the label in order to help Alec’s Music, does

such statement make sense? Why come to us when you

have all it takes to help yourself. One of these

artistes that we have helped immensely has been going

about spoiling our name. All these are not fair

because they are not appreciating our efforts.

 

But the impression out there is that you are the iron

lady of Alec’s Music and decides who gets what?

 

I don’t think that is true, Alec runs his show and

very much in charge. Besides, I’m not bossy. I would

have released my third album but can’t because we have

other artistes on ground., I can’t just rail road my

work like that. The only problem I have is that I’m

Alec’s wife. I was not there when these people were

signing their contracts, so the whole accusation is

very bad. I heard recently that I have driven

everybody away from Alec’s Music. Except for Rhymzo

that left, all our artistes are still intact.

 

What kind of a person are you?

 

I’m a very down—to-earth person, homely and very

patient. I also don’t respond very well to

intimidation and I don’t like people trying to

intimidate me. Like they say, a strong man stands for

himself and a stronger person stands for other

persons. I think I’m a stronger person because based

on the success of my work; I have given other acts a

platform. Despite all the ill givings, I will not stop

doing my best for artistes.

 

What is your brand of music?

 

I’m an inspirational singer and sings anything that

has to do with positivism. I try as much as possible

to make my songs universal.

 

As an inspirational artiste, what stands you out?

 

My voice stands me out, but some people like my

costume, my hairstyle, dance steps and some like

everything put together. There is really something to

like about me. My voice is what I like most about

myself. In fact, it is my most prized possession. I

love to hear Kefee sing.

 

Do you have role models?

 

I love my parents a lot; they have been married for

long. Musically, I love the voice of Tracy Chapman,

Lauryn Hill, Yolanda Adams and Oprah Winfrey even

though she is not a musician. Here in Nigeria, I love

Christy Essien Igbokwe.

 

Let us take a look at your background?

 

I’m the third child in a family of six, we are three

at par, in fact, and my younger sister is my replica.

 

We would like you to share your vision and mission

with us as a fast growing music star?

 

I want to touch and better lives with my position as

an artiste, basically children, that’s my mission. I

look forward to having a talk show someday and also

reaching out to the business world. Already, I am

talking to some banks on the possibility of starting

my own line of children’s’ toys. In fact, it will kick

off soon.

 

In the next couple of years, where do you intend

taking your career?

 

I see myself heading to the very top.

 

Even though you are married, how do you cope with men?

 

No doubt, I am married but Nigerian men still toast

  1. In fact, one even said I should quickly go and

remove my wedding ring, after asking if I was married.

I was born in the early 80’s. But a lot of people see

me and still think I’m still 18.

 

But have you ever bothered finding out what part of

your body that keeps attracting these men to you?

 

I don’t know what they are looking for.

 

Does your husband get jealous sometimes?

 

No, he does not because he knows me and is very

comfortable with me. He understands what I do and

knows they will come after me.

 

As an artiste on Alec’s Music, what is your dream?

 

I really hope and pray to get to the very top and be

heard globally. That is also my dream for Alec’s

Music, we are also into marketing, but piracy is one

of our major problems?

 

Any last word(s)?

 

This is Nigerian, it is the motherland and we should

try to make it work. Together, we all can stand and

that is the master plan. We should also stop blaming

other people for our failures, let us own up. Special

thanks to my fans for standing by me; I will never let

them down because I appreciate them all.

 

First published, October 2007

 

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