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I COULDN'T FIND ONE GENUINE NOLLYWOOD MOVIE IN US, THEY WERE ALL PIRATED ......Anne Inyang

By ADA ONYEMA
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Popular gospel musician, Anne Inyang, speaks about her music and foray into fashion in this interview with ADA ONYEMA.

You recently celebrated your 10th anniversary on stage. How has it been?

Well, fine and good. I thank God for His mercies and kindness through the years. He has always been there for me.

How do you see the Nigerian music industry?

It is different now from when we started.

Of course, the difference is clear, because when I started about 12 years ago, I ventured into the kind of gospel music that did not exist. All that existed then were clean choruses. I had brought contemporary music into gospel. Not only that, I fused traditional dances into gospel music. At the time I started, gospel music was not making the kind of impact it is making now. As a matter of fact, it wasn't even appreciated. And we the artistes were at fault in that we were not creative enough. Now, there is creativity in music presentation and videos. Things have changed drastically within the last five years. With the doors opened by MTVbase, Nigerian music has gone international. It wasn't so before. The only person that was known internationally was Fela. Recently, I was somewhere in Los Angeles, watching a movie. I have forgotten the title of that movie, but it was a foreign movie. It was the story of a man who travelled from Senegal to the United States. Guess whose song was being played in that movie, Fela. I was so excited when I heard it.

But piracy seems to be taken a toll on the industry...

It is even worse abroad. I couldn't believe what I saw. I did not find a single original copy of Nigerian music on the stand in the US. They were all pirated. And it was not only music but movies too. You know they have their own style of packaging; it is not like the way we package ours here. Everything is pirated and nobody is saying anything about it. Maybe nobody knows about it.

Who do you think could be responsible for that?

I think it is some Nigerians that are based there. They come over here, they know which music is reigning. All they do is to buy a copy of it and take it abroad where they mass produce it. I think it is very unfair to the artistes.

The rattling effect is that it paralyses the artist.

It also paralyses the movie producers because we spend so much money and get little for it.

You know how much it is to produce one musical. Nowadays, if you want something very good, it's in millions of naira. And somebody will just pick the finished job and reproduce it. Another thing they do over there is that they go through TV or art play, package them and give them titles. That is unfair. I think the general public needs more education on which work is genuine and which one is pirated, so that they will patronise the artistes better.

How acceptable is Nigerian music in the US?

Nigeria is only widely accepted among the Nigerians there. Nigerian music has to be introduced to the white community, because unlike here, they don't play foreign music on their music stations unless they have special segments like Music From Other Lands, Music From Africa and so on. We need to go over there and make our presence felt more than it is at present.

You recently went into beauty and cosmetology. Was it out of fear that music may no longer be able to pay your bills?

Well, I have always loved beauty and fashion. It was by God's grace that I ran into the Mary Kay group. I was privileged to be in their meeting, and I indicated my interest in being a consultant with Mary Kay. I went through the course and training and I am back.

What do you intend to do next?

I am still very much into music. I still do live performance. I have a band. Mary Kay is not a high thing. And when you think about different streams of income, it comes in handy.

An artiste is one that also talks about beauty.

You are an embodiment of the total woman on stage, so you have to take care of your inner looks as well as your outward appearance to be able to perform perfectly.

How do you think a Nigerian woman should dress?

Dress comfortably. Dress to enhance your beauty, not to expose it. It is not for every Tom, Dick and Harry to see every part of you on the street. I don't believe in that. I believe that a woman should dress with dignity and with poise. Exposing yourself does not mean that you are beautiful, it just only means you are seductive.

What is your beauty routine like?

Beauty is not just the application of makeup or make-over. Beauty is having good sleep, having a good rest and working out. I work out because I use a lot of energy on stage. And it is not only working out, you should eat balanced diets, not stuffing yourself up with starch. So, beauty is a general thing: working and living in a good environment.

Are you in support of the nudity law that's being debated in the House of Representatives?

It is Okay. But what happens is that when laws are passed, people try to break them.

Once you make something a law, people break them deliberately. But I think that law should start from the family. If you had proper training at home, you would not expose yourself on the streets. But if you say there is a law concerning dressing, I think you are inhibiting the people's freedom. But at the same time, modesty should be the watch word.

What is your philosophy of life?

My philosophy is touching lives. When you help someone in need, help will come your way when you need it.

Are you married?

No. I don't like that question. I like people to focus on my music. I am obviously not married, but I don't like that.

What would you say about the Nigerian fashion industry?

They are doing very well; better than before.

And I am happy about the ban. We should look inward. It's a good thing.

How many albums do you have now?

I have eight albums Who is your ideal man?

In terms of what?

In terms of a life partner.

Okay, my ideal man is one who loves me and loves God. That's all. A man who truly truly loves me. And I love a truthful person. I don't like people who tell lies. A man who tells lie is like the wind, you can't catch him. I don't like such a man.

How many pair of shoes do you have?

(Laughs) I don't know. I have a lot of them.

But do you know the one I like wearing now is canvas?

Why canvas?

I found that it is very comfortable when am ?doing? casual wears. But on stage, I wear typically African dresses.

What is your favourite food?

I love fruits.

Fruits?

Yes, I love fruits a lot. I eat them in various ways. I eat them with salad and vegetables.

Do you wear a designer perfume?

I use different designer perfumes. I mix them so that people like you will not tell which perfume I am wearing.

How do you handle stardom?

Yes, that is why I love America. People didn't really know me there. But here, where people know me, I think it's a privilege. I don't shun people. I don't run away from people. I sign autographs and I appreciate the fact that it is because I am appreciated that people come to me. So, it doesn't go to my head at all. But I want to do the normal things people do. I want to go to the market and buy things. The few times I go to the market, you see people singing Akanam Nkwe and following me.

My car once had a problem, so I had to keep it with the mechanic. I called a taxi to come and pick me but he couldn't get to me on time, and I really had to be somewhere.

Then a bus stopped right in front of me and I wanted to take it. As I was about to enter, someone said, ?Oh Princess, what happened to your car? Come down I will pay for taxi for you.? It was as if I didn't have money. A gold fish has no hiding place. You think you are not known in some places. At times, I have to disguise or dress in a way that people will not know me because I want to buy boli. And I love fruits. I can sit down in a car and see fruits and I would want to go down and buy them.

Then I would remember. It is because over the years, music has exposed one. Some people call me and they want to get close to me. I don't bluff people, but there are some terrible people that your spirit would resent.

People would call and you don't even know where they got your number from. They call you in the middle of the night and say, ?I am watching your music. I like your music.?

Have you been embarrassed before?

I won't really call that embarrassment.

When you go for a show most of the time and you are miming a song and the light goes off. It is not embarrassment, rather it is the environment we find ourselves. Our present environment makes the artiste to suffer. You suffer to get the money to produce your album, you suffer to advertise it, you suffer to market it, you suffer to promote it, you shoot the videos all by yourself and when it comes to the market, the story is the same.

Would you agree that you rose fast?

It is not everybody that hits it fast; it all depends on how unique your talent is. That is what makes you to stand out. Success is for those who stand out.

Why is your latest album titled Powered by God?

I did this album to mark my tenth anniversary on stage. That all through the years, I have been powered by God and that as a child of God I have the greater one on the inside of me.

What inspires you?

Inspirations come from different situations.

Akanam Nkwe came when I was passing through a broken relationship and I was comparing God?s love with man?s love. So inspiration comes from everything.