I won't trade my love affair for money — Davina
Davina is one lady in the entertainment industry who knows her onions and is ready to stand all odds to get to where she is heading to. The musician-cum-fashion designer, and the sixth among seven children, told Saturday Sun in this interview that she discovered her talents long ago and has never played with any. Although she left lawn tennis for music and fashion, she has proved that she was born and not made in her chosen career. She has appeared on the cover of fashion magazines because of the uniqueness of her designs. She spoke also of her challenges, life style and relationship.
How did your music career start?
My stage name is Davina but my maiden name is Patience Ochima. I entered into the music industry in 2005 professionally, but I have been in music ever since. I have always been a music lover. I have played in various bands in churches and performed with all sorts of people before I finally decided in 2002 to do some singles. I decided to test the waters and see if I was actually cut out for the music business. When I was sure, I waxed an album in 2004 that was not released due to some issues. Later on in 2005, I had an opportunity to play in star Mega Jamz, which was when I actually hosted out in the music world in Nigeria.
Among your dreams, was music your first one?
As you can see, I look masculine because I was playing lawn tennis. It was actually my first love. I was doing music alongside, but I focused on long tennis. I was playing it full-time, right from when I was in secondary school. After a very long time, I discovered that it was a bit too demanding for me then because; I could not get all the sporting equipment. I am the kind of person that does not feel too good when I am doing something and all that I needed is not complete. If such a situation occurs, I would just go for something else that can easily be managed. There are a lot of issues involved in playing sports so, I had to put that one aside and face music fully.
What were your parent's reactions when you went into music?
Of course every parent, especially those of olden days never allowed their children to go into sports or music because they believed it was a child who does not want to go to school that ventures into such things. Nevertheless, I made my parents understand that it was what I wanted to do. I loved it and stubbornly had passion for it.
How would you describe your voyage into music industry in Nigeria?
I thank God but I am not where I want to be yet. Definitely, I want to be on the lips of every Nigerian and African. I want to be known throughout the whole world just like Mariam Makeba, Onyeka Onwenu and the rest of them. Although I am trying, I am playing in big shows, which I am grateful to God for but I have not arrived yet. There are a lot of artistes who have not even played in the shows I have played. So, I count myself lucky to have done all that but, I still have a lot ahead of me to achieve and I am still working hard. I don't care what anyone says. I am cut out for this business and I am going to make it.
We all know that Nigerian music is saturated with lots of stars; do you think you can actually make it?
Oh yes. The truth of the matter is whoever stays in there, wins at the end of the day. If you quit, you will never win. I believe that if I hang in there long enough, I will make it. There are many people I sing better than, they are up there. There are many people who sing better than I who are below there, who are still asking the same question. I believe I have the passion for music and I am going to hit it big very soon.
What kind of music do you play?
The kind of music Davina plays has her culture in mind. I am not going to say that I do pop, R&B, jazz rock, or whatever but I do inspirational songs, songs that ministers to the soul and uplifts people. I do hearty songs but it has to be traditional or else, it is not Davina. Even my dressing portrays a Nigerian and African woman. I portray a woman who is patriotic about her country. This is who I am and I know it would pay off very soon.
Why did you choose Davina as the stage name?
Davina was the name my two elder sisters, brother and I came up with. I wanted a name that would fly in the industry and I brainstormed with them. Then, I was still in secondary school. My brother came up with divine and my sister, Davina. I didn't know there was a woman called Davina in America. But we came up with the name and when we found out the meaning, (divine money), I admired it. A lot of people too admire it and it goes with my person.
Since you ventured into music, have you ever felt like quitting?
I have felt like quitting a billion times. It is tough and you need to be tough to survive. You have to hang your neck on it to make it. If you quit, you can never make it. Sometimes, I look at the like of Sunny Nneji, and so many other guys I have worked with in the past. I remember the Mercedes Benz car which Sunny was driving when I used to work with him, but now, he has hit the market and he is enjoying himself. Then, sometimes, there won't be air-conditioner in the car. He was enjoying air-conditioner only when he was buoyant. But he kept moving and today, the story has changed. He is being celebrated. If Sunny Nneji could make it then, Davina should hold on because she will get there.
Are you saying that people you have worked with are your role models?
I admire them. I have a role model. I am a kind of person that has a high standard in everything I do. Right now, I have seen a role model and his name is Dr. Victor Olaiya.
I was searching for a role model and mentor and not a tormentor. We have so many tormentors in our time that would be envious of the people they are mentoring. I chose to admire people from afar and fashion my life to tread the roads they have trodden. But in choosing a mentor, one has to be very careful. If you look at his life, you would discover that he has seen and done it all. He has performed before Queen Elizabeth, and he has performed with so many international stars. He has his identity. He left a legacy for his children. He has properties all over the place. All his children are trained. He has everything you can ever imagine that a musician would have, maintain and sustain over the years. I admire him a lot.
What inspires your music?
Our everyday life, what we go through. Celebrations, sadness, and waiting periods are the things we go through so, I write my songs from those experiences of life.
It also comes from my lifestyle. You will not believe it but it is true. For instance, I was disappointed by my sponsor when my album was ready and I was so heart-broken. I wrote a song from that as well. He disappointed me when the album was prepared and ready to go. He said he can no longer continue. Of course, it was heartbreaking. In such experience, I write too.
What are your challenges?
The challenges I face in the industry are people who try to imagine things. You will meet a lot of people who want to prove to you that you are nothing. Meanwhile, they are even afraid of you. When you try to find out why the person is attacking you, you will discover that the person is afraid of you. Someone cannot admire you and come to you to say it, instead they would try to run you down even when they know that what you have, they do not. I am happy with the people who are writing about my potentials. They realized that I have an image because most artistes we have do not have image. I have worked on my image all these years and it is paying off now. Wherever I go, everybody knows it is Davina. I have an image that promotes the African woman. It is not easy for me to keep such image. I go out and women walk up to me and say they admire me. Fashion magazines call me to become their icon. I see myself making new dresses every week to wear to events. This is all what we represent in the industry and it is high time people recognized and appreciated it instead of discouragement.
What can you say about Nigerian music in general?
Nigeria music industry is like a Para suit. We are making it happen. The industry is amazing. We are taking over. If you look at the year, the quality of songs and video, the arrangement of songs and the writing, you would discover that everybody has grown. I am proud of the industry.
What puts you off as a musician?
What puts every musician off is when he or she is trying to perform and do his or her best and the fans are not appreciating it. It is exhausting. If a musician is performing and everybody is like a dead person, it hurts and throws the performer off. We want to be enjoyed and encouraged while we perform. And most Nigerians pretend a lot. Even when they are enjoying your performance, you still see them sitting down like logs of wood. That is what puts me off.
You are also into fashion, can you tell us about it?
Fashion has always been one of my passions. I started by using needle and thread. I was making clothes using needle and thread. If I show you clothes I made with needle and thread that are on first pages of fashion magazines, you won't believe it. I started with that until later I met this amazing guy in my life, who finally encouraged me to take it to the next level and become a fashion designer. He taught me how to use the sowing machine. I have started a fashion and jewellery line called Davina Secrets. I have trained a lot of societal women. My designs are pretty amazing even to me.
These days women dress half naked. Is that what fashion means?
I won't say that is fashion. When you dress like a lunatic, it is not fashion. Fashion should make a statement. Whatever it is you are wearing, you should have a story to it. You don't just wear things because you want to get attention. If you don't dress properly, people will give you attention in a wrong way. When all the boobs are shooting out, you are not dressing up but when you dress up and people look at you and admire you, that is fashion.
How have you been coping with male admirers?
It is good for one to have self-control. Sometimes you get flattered and carried away with all the attention. Even as a guy, if women are admiring you, you will start misbehaving. You may extend a handshake to the elbow which is not very nice. I try to control myself.
Have you been sexually harassed?
Yes, but that was when I was naÃ¯ve as a little girl. I have been sexually harassed but not abused. Moreover, I was taught by my parents to fear God and not allow anybody take advantage of me. At least, I got by those years without being abused.
Who is your ideal man?
My ideal man is a man that is down-to-earth and has me in mind all the time. A man who really loves me and shows it. A man that gives me much attention. A man I can love and take care of and a man that I can spend time together with. My ideal man is not a man that would always go out without me. In as much as I am an entertainer, I am also an indoor person. I prefer a man that can be there for my kids and establish a relationship with my parents.
Have you ever fallen in love?
This is the second time I am falling in love and I hope it lasts. The first didn't work because we had different ideologies. So, I am happy with Eric and I will not trade my relationship with him not even for money. He is the General Manager of Ben TV, London.