The making of a classic, EGO

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From the days of 'Konko below,' to the 'Never far away' days, former Miss Ego Iheanhco, now Mrs. Ego Ogbaro has clawed her way to the top (at least for now) of her profession. From the noise making secondary school girl, to the jingles singing model, and to Lagbaja's foremost singer, Ego, has carved for herself a niche that has become her style, and this is noticeable in her hair – the dreads, her looks, her dancing steps, and most importantly her voice.

She's today the elegant and simple in style winner of Hip-Hop World's Best Female Vocalist of the Year. From the outside, she looks so unassuming but on the inside, a treasure. A treasure only Saturday Sun Style can dig out, and she makes much of it…

She was born, in Benin, to an Igbo father, who was an advertising practitioner, and to a Yoruba mother, who resides in Lagos and is a successful business woman. She grew up in one of Nigeria's foremost trade cities, Aba, in Abia State, and in her words, “most of my growing up years were in Lagos.”
The year, 1990 is one of her most memorable years. It was the year her “very quiet and humble father” died.

I was in secondary school then and it was devastating. It was a terrible thing to hear at that point in my life. Because I was very close to my dad so it was very sad. He had been ill. The reality of his death didn't hit me until later. I was getting ready for school, and my uncle came and told me, it didn't still key in I went to school, it was in school that the thing just hit me and I had to come back home…It was just a terrible thing.

I was very, very, close to him, and I learnt a lot from him. He was a very quiet and humble person; I guess I learnt that quality from him. I have learnt not to trust people, because he trusted people too much and that was his undoing. I learnt from him to be hard working to provide for your family, and to be good in everything that you do. (If he were still here, would he have supported you choosing music as a career?) I don't know at first but may be he would have come round, at least by now he would have known that it is not as bad as people think it is.

What was your love life like, as a teenager?
I grew up like a tom boy so I wasn't really into guys until, way, way in my twenties. I didn't start dating until that late because I wasn't really into guys, I was a tom boy, my focus wasn't to have a boyfriend.

A little line on her hubby
He is a nice young man from Ondo State. His name is Niyi Ogbaro. He is a nice person, he loves me, and I love him. We dated before I started with Lagbaja, and then somewhere along the line, he went away, and he came back, and we started dating again, so we dated both before and after I started singing with Lagbaja.

How did he propose to you?
That is something I am never going to reveal. How he proposed to me, is between us. We married 2 years after we started dating. I was expecting he would propose but I didn't know it would come the time it did.

Why did you have a quiet wedding?
I just didn't want noise. I didn't want a carnival. I wasn't in the mood for noise. I didn't have the strength for it. So I just decided to do something small. We wedded on a Thursday, 21st February 2006, at the Alimosho registry.

What do you see in Niyi Ogbaro that is not in any other man?
I wouldn't know if it is not in another man, but what I see in him is that he is very hard working, he is very old fashioned, and he believes that a guy should work hard and a woman deserves good things of life, and a guy should work hard to take care of her. He is very compassionate, loving, friendly, and understating. Of courses, he has his own bad sides, but the good side, outweighs the bad side.” (Has her way of life changed since she married?)Not really. It's the same basically. It used to be hectic and it is still.

Her tainted dreads is very hot
I like it. I had always admired it. And I feel this is me, not the braids, not the weavons, not the permed hair. Before I started wearing the locks, I didn't feel comfortable; I kept on changing my hairstyle and all that. I guess this is just me. When I decided to do it I did some research, I read so much about it, and I don't regret having it anyway. It is very convenient for me. You can wash it anytime you like. And, now, there is this secret thing somebody thought me so I don't have to go to the salon to turn it, I do it myself. Washing it, takes a very short time to dry off, it is not heavy, and it's quite light.

Dakore, her best friend in the entertainment industry, has dreads on, was it planned?
She started hers before mine. I know when she started hers. I have been thinking of doing it then, when I started thinking of doing it, I did it two years after. People told me all sorts of stories about it, I even cut my hair, and I started growing it again. She has done hers a year before I started. It would be two years in July.

'Noting for you' was fun; 'Never far away,' fulfilling
'Noting for you:' that would be my favourite video. It was fun that's why I like it. But now that we have 'Never far away,' I think I like 'Never far away,' I like the outcome, the final results and everything, but when you talk of the shooting, I'll choose 'Nothing for you' because I had the fun the most while we shot the video; it was such a nice experience.

Part of Never far away was shot in Abeokuta, and part in Lagos. The shooting was hard; we kept doing it over and over. But at the end of the day it was nice, people around there were nice, it was more serious than 'Noting for you.'

What do you make of your being the Female Vocalist of the Year?
The award is good. I saw the support, I saw the love. Even when they were calling the nominees people had started hugging me… it was nice. I was watching it the other day, and I was like, 'what is wrong with this one?' when I was given the award, I forgot half of what I wanted to say. And everybody was like, how come you didn't mention Lagbaja.

The truth is, I have rehearsed my speech and everything I would say, just incase I win, when they called me, the whole thing just vanished, and there I was thanking everybody, forgetting those I had rehearse to thank. I was just overwhelmed; I was just excited, I guess, I forgot half of what I wanted to say… It wasn't an issue, though. According to our new slang in Nigeria, the award takes me to the next level. I am working on my stuff, and hoping for the best.

Going solo…when?
“Very soon. I don't like to put a time frame on whatever I want to do. Some times, you tell people this and then they start waiting and when, due to circumstances, you don't do the thing, they ask, 'what is happening?' So I like surprising people. I'll go solo very soon. This was how they asked me about my wedding. Maybe I'll surprise people like I did but I am working on it.

“The type of songs I will be doing? It will be mainly Soul because I like soul music, so I guess most of it would be that genre of music. (What record label are you looking at?)
Leave for until we get there. I don't know really. I have not started searching for record labels yet.

Would Africano be her last Album with Lagbaja?
I don't know how many I would do with him. I am still with him and we are still going to do so many albums together. I have learnt from Lagbaja how to deal with different people, how to be a leader, and how not to settle for less, I think there is more to learn.

Strength and weakness
My strength is basically my weakness. Working under pressure. Should I call it my weakness? It is just something I don't like. Something I'd rather not do. But it's only that if for any reason it happens, it brings out the best in me. When you push me, or pressurise me, I hate it, I don't like it, but I think that is how you can actually get the best out of me, much as I hate it. It is like a two way thing.

Hopes and aspirations
As I always say to be at the top of my game in whatever I am doing, which I hope will be music, or whatever really. I want to be known based on what I have done, based on my talent. I want to be recognized worldwide, I want my name to mean something. It's not really about making money but just to be relevant and be happy really.

Favourite colour
I love black. Black is beautiful. If I have my way, all my cloths would be black. It matches any colour; it makes any other colour stand out. I have always liked black as far as I can remember.

I'm a down-to-earth person, blunt; tells you how it is, doesn't mince words, a fun person. That's that.”
That's Ego Ogbaro. That is Nigeria's Female Vocalist of the year. That's the petite singer, with a giant dream… There's certainly something to the saying, 'big things come in small packages.'