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Hot R&B/Afro-Pop singer, Ashionye, an ex-member of the all-female-group, Emete, has sent out a clear signal to randy male fans who fantasise about her body, and she means it: “You can look; you can appreciate but you can't touch, period!”

Light-skinned and curvy Ashionye said, she handles her male fans with an honest smile. And she knows when to draws the line between being nice and nasty: “I handle my male fans with an honest smile but the line between being nice and being nasty is very thin.

I respect people and I expect the same from them. I meet a guy the first time and I greet him with a smile. We start chatting and the next thing he wants is my (telephone) number. That's when I switch-off! The fact that I gave him a smile does not mean he should cross the line!”

And her love life?
“I am currently in an exciting relationship. What trips me in my guy is his dedication, honesty, trustworthiness and handwork. He adores me and I adore him too. He is charming and loving, but above all, he allows me to be myself. I create time for him like he creates time to be with me.”

Wedding bells
When I'll get married. Don't worry, we'll keep you posted,” she said, in response to a question.
“No. He is not jealous seeing male fans swarm around me. He has been to shows where I performed on stage and guys were going over the ceiling, saying unprintable things about me in the audience. He came back and told me and we laughed over it. It has helped our relationship grow. He trusts me and I trust him.
“I am a family person. I want to have four kids. Two boys and two girls, nothing more. I grew up taking care of my cousins so I have a passion for children.”

Emete brake-up
Ashionye hit limelight in 2003 as a member of the now defunct Emete. She opened up on why they broke up with the group:
“Despite the relative success, we had major issues. It's a very long story. We just couldn't resolve our differences. Unfortunately, things happen that way. Probably because we had everything on a platter of gold, we just took 'it' for granted, hence we were not that dedicated. We got 'it' that quick and then, we played around with it and then we all lost it. My relationship with the others is not so fantastic.”
However, she believes that with the passage of time, they would all make-up.

“I am sure that they would come around. Although I don't see why, all the same they got to blame me for a whole lot of things. I believe that we all have our destinies. If we can't work together as a group, that does not mean that we cannot be friends. We were once friends and once regarded ourselves as sisters. I guess with time, they would all come around.”

Early years
“I wrote my very first song when I was nine, it was entitled 'Time and Tide'. It was a quartet and was childish. It was just a child playing with words. I wrote my second song when I was 16 plus. It was entitled 'God I Put My Trust in You'. Ever since, I have never looked back. My late mum was my mentor. (God bless her soul). She died 11 tears ago. She was the first person I heard sing. She inspired me. She was in the church choir and social club singing group. So, I was always tagging along with her. That was how it all started for me.”

Current album
Following the break-up of Emete, she dropped her debut solo effort on the Orangutang imprint in August last year. She talked on the album, which has been winning critical raves: “A Piece of Me' is my debut solo. It expresses what I feel inside basically. I am an emotional person. I like all that mushy-mushy-lovey-dovey stuff. I put down feelings that I felt deep inside. It is an eight-tracker with a remix of 'Dance for Me.' The response has been cool and pirates have been doing business as usual. Fans have been inundating me with calls. I hear people sing my songs and it is very encouraging. I know where I am coming from and where I am going. Stardom will not get into my head.”

According to Ashionye, despite being a woman in a male dominated industry, she has been very lucky: “I have been very lucky. I came out with a group called Emete, under Nation Africa. They handled everything from finance to promotion. After Emete broke-up, Orangutang signed me on. Now, not a lot of ladies are that lucky.

“It's also not been very easy. In this part of the world, people tend to look down on you because you are a woman. They think that you should only be seen and not heard. Even though we have a lot more women who are talented than their male counterparts, yet you hardly see women playing shows over. People always think that oh! 'They are women! Bring them down!' Unfortunately for them, my sisters and I are doing it right. We have the voice, we have the talent and we want to be heard. I am sick of being put down because I am a woman.”

Consequently, she has penned a song entitled I am a woman, featuring Sasha, Kemistry, Amina, Zeal and Blaise among others. “We just finished recording it. They are all talented ladies with unique styles. We want to empower women. I am sick of the situation whereby, just because I have some mounds of flesh on my chest, which they do not have, my male counterparts think that I am not capable. I am smart and intelligent. You have to give my sisters and I the chance to prove ourselves before criticising and pulling us down. Give us that respect!”

Happiest moment
“First time we had our show as Emete and we rocked Abuja. It was a live band show. Then. we were not very popular but we moved in and set the place on fire.”

“Loosing my mum 11 years ago was my most painful experience. I don't want to talk about it. I'll start crying all over again. I don't want to be emotional. I don't want people's sympathy either.”

Role models
“Onyeka Onwenu. She is a strong and independent female achiever. She has done a lot. That's why she is where she is today. I also Love Joke Silva. She is a true woman, very natural and great.”

Sexual harassment
“I have never experienced it but I'll tell you what. If any guy tries it, he is going to find out how hard my palms can be!”

Pep talk to wannabes
“Keep your dreams alive. Don't let anyone deceive you. Don't trade in your womanhood for anything. It's not worth it. Be focused.”

“I want to win a Grammy.”

By Tony Ogaga