I lived a life of lies.......Felix Lebarty
Felix Lebarty in his time was the rave of the moment; his hit track entitled Ifeoma endeared him to music lovers. That song brought him fame and fortune in the minds of many who listened to him at the time. But in this interview with http://nollywoodgists.com, the Edo State born artiste leads you into the life that he lived while he was still neck deep in his career in the 1980's through to the 90's. He also reveals to us his new persona and other issues concerning him. Read on.
WHEN I informed my other colleagues that I'll be having an interview with Felix Liberty this morning, the first question
one of them asked is whether you are still alive or not. What has been happening to you of late?
I am so much alive with a whole lot of life of the spirit. When you have Christ in your life you have life in abundance. I now have life even more than I thought I used to have in the past. I have moved from darkness to light at the moment and the light of God is Jesus Christ and he is in me right now, so I am so much alive at the moment because I have Jesus in my life.
Could you tell us how it all evolved; your absence from the music scene in times past, what were you into during the period and now re-emerging as a man of God?
I will gladly tell you that God has always been in me, God is in everybody and God loves everybody; but it is what we do that he does not like. At a point in my life, I discovered that where I was and the kind of love I was getting was not enough. I am from a family where people worship idols and I was very comfortable with it, because that was the much I knew then. I thought those negative spirits were all I needed to become the celebrated star that I dreamt of becoming. At that time, I did not know anything about our lord and saviour Jesus Christ. But our father is a very patient and forgiving father; he gives you the opportunity to explore and learn things of the world and I discovered that I was living in darkness all the while. When you are on the spot of national fame you tend to want to be everywhere and when moving around the country becomes too routine, then you think of travelling abroad. This happened in the prime of my career when I thought I should be earning better pay for myself and that made me travel to America in a bid to better my career.
What year did you travel out of the country?
I started travelling out of the country in 1986 on my own. In 1982 I travelled with Tabansi and that was when we did the song I am your lover boy. Later on in 1986 to be precise, I started travelling out of the country in search of greener pastures. But unfortunately, each time I travelled out of the country, things did not go as I planned. Every time I come home, the monies I would have been able to save would go into buying expensive gold chains and wristwatches and this almost left me with nothing. And this made me to always want to go back; back then, sometimes I travel back to America four to five times in a year. I am not always comfortable each time I come back, my mindset is always set at going back to America. When the devil wants to distract you, he takes your eyes off the things that will curtail your excesses and he constantly provides you with negative distractions.
When did your new transformation start and what really happened?
I was looking for love in the wrong places and I discovered that there are some people that you are nice to and you expect them to be nice in return but they don't respond in that manner. The first thing that dawned on me at the point of my transformation was that, the religion I was practising was negative in all forms. There and then, I decided to practise another religion other than idol worshiping and I decided to choose between Christianity and Islam. I later became a Moslem. Later on, I discovered that I got all the love that I was looking for in that religion. But at exactly six and a half years that I practised Islam, something happened to me. At exactly three 'O' clock one morning, I saw a very bright human figure as I woke up from sleep; the figure said: ''you are going to get a divine revelation.'' As soon as I got that revelation I was instantly gripped with fear. All of a sudden I became hungry for the bible and when it was day light I quickly got my self copy of the bible. At that time, I didn't know that I had an encounter with God. That encounter is still fresh in my memory and I'll never forget it till the day I breathe my last.
There is this feeling that when people fail in their musical careers they run into singing gospel music. What is your take on this?
Nobody becomes a vessel of Christ except you are elected. If you sing a religious song it might sell like a popular circular song but there is no song that will sell like a spiritually loaded effort. I currently have an album that will not be in the market because it is deeply spirited. I am not bothered about its financial success but I am more concerned about the impact of the message that I am trying to pass across to the listening public. Whether I choose to do albums or as long as God directs you, the question of how you make money should not bother you because it will come naturally.
So how has Felix Liberty been surviving, knowing that you have not been on the music scene for a while?
When I was even really popular, I wasn't making money; I was making noise! I was making people believe that I had money when in actual fact I wasn't making anything. At the moment, I cannot account for anything in a career that some people will term as somewhat successful.
From all that you have revealed, would it be safe to conclude that you are no longer a secular artiste?
As far as I am concerned, I am not just off circular music but I am also preaching against it.
Do you not think that people will not take you serious by preaching against secular music?
Yes I am at the moment; I am deeply involved in how people positively use their talents. Look at Fela, the man was not too interested in making money from music but he eventually touched the lives of many by preaching against the vices of the government and that of his immediate environment. So I will not listen to people who will later tell me that I am not serious.
What's the title of your latest album and on what record label do you hope to release it?
The title of the album is I surrender to Jesus. I don't intend to release the album on any record label as I am going to distribute this album as the lord leads me.
Then you could come out to deny that you never involved in 419; but now that you are a man of God, were you really into all of that?
You see, when your life is all about lies what you should expect is unending attacks from those who have weighed your person. A life of lies will give you stigma and it will always put you in trouble. So all the accusations I got at that time were as a result of the lies I told in the past. I was living a life of lies! But today, I thank God that I have been rescued from darkness.
So you were not involved in any of such as accused then?
No I was not! But I must confess that I lived a life that was not real. At the time that I was really popular, my life was likened to those who were selling drugs because my outlook was akin to everything they looked like on the outside. I can vividly recall that there was a concert that I performed and I received over twelve thousand dollars after the show; could you believe that I spent more than nine thousand dollars in buying gold chains and wrist watches. So, all of that contributed to the accusations and rumours that went around about me.
While still in darkness like you said, did you father any children from other women?
That is why I am trying to preach against secular music! When you are in the world any woman looks attractive to you. While I was still young and still popular as a musician, any woman I find comfortable starts bearing children for me. If I tell you the number of children I have from other women it will seem like an embarrassment to you. I have had children with more than five women; this is something I don't find palatable to sometimes say in public but truth must be told! When you bite more than you can chew, you'll end up creating problems for yourself, your family and the society at large. I cannot satisfy my children right now as a father; as I speak, some of them are in America and Dublin while the others are here in Nigeria.
How old is your first child?
The first one is twenty three
Are your children into Christ?
By his grace I believe they should; you can only preach the word but you cannot force anybody to change.
What is about most of the artistes in your generation like the late Sunny Okosuns and Chris Okotie turning to God in the latter stages of their lives?
You see in your time and this is not just limited to musicians alone; in your time God will touch you and you may be the one that will start a new form of positive change. When you begin to talk to God, he will answer you.
Are you a member of PMAN?
Yes I am, but I don't think I can function there at this time of my life; it will derail the long term plan that my life has to follow at this point in time.