Esse Agesse is back with a bang.
She was the young lady who hit the music scene in the early 90s like a thunderbolt, with an album titled 'Back to the Basics.' She followed it the next year with another one, Celebrate, and Esse Agesse was a star in the making.
But she got married to popular producer, Kingsley Ogoro, and Esse went underground. She stopped singing and performing.
Today, however, Esse Agesse Ogoro wants to pick the pieces of her broken musical career, and launch forth again, after a bitter experience with marriage. She bared it all to Daily Sun:
My name is Esse Agesse Ogoro. I am from a humble background, I am the first daughter of seven siblings, my elder brother is late.
I grew up in a Christian family, and as the eldest daughter, I have always had the responsibility to lift up my younger ones. I don't think I have been great at it, but I have tried my best.
Music has been my life. I had always wanted to be a musician as far back as I can remember. I started singing at a very young age, I started from the church choir. I would have preferred to go straight into singing after my secondary school education.
But my father was very particular about my education, he always felt that although music is a good profession, it was good to have a certificate. Maybe if things don't work out for you in that particular profession then you have something to fall back on. So, I decided to go into the university to study Economics. After two years of 'A' levels, I studied Economics from 1986-1989, at the University of Lagos. I attended Government College Ikorodu, and my 'A' levels was at CMS Grammar School in Akoka.
When I finished from University of Lagos, I immediately went into singing, while I was in my final year in the university, I started doing a little bit of jingles here and there, but it wasn't full time. Immediately after my exams, I just told my father I have done what you wanted me to do, this time is my own. So, I just faced music straight away. About 1990/91, I was doing a lot of jingles, I was also a back-up vocalist for a lot of artistes. It was while I was working on a song with Segun Arinze that I got introduced to my husband Kingsley Ogoro.
From then on, we always worked together on jingles, songs, albums for other people as well. He was a producer to so many artistes, and I did a lot of back-up jobs for a lot of artistes he worked with. It was when Segun Arinze was commissioned to do the theme song for Nigeria Music Award in 1991, and I sang on the theme song. And that was where Laolu Akins, A&R manager for Sony music then, discovered me. He invited me to come on Sony label, and that was how we started. And in 1992 my first album was released under Sony music, not too long after my elder brother died. My elder brother was an inspiration to me. His name is Emmanuel Agesse, he was a journalist with Daily Times, he was always helping me then with publicity. After my first album Back to the Basics, I released another album, Celebrate.' I got married to Kingsley Ogoro after my second album in 1993. I was pregnant when we got married and we had our first child that same year.
And after our first child, we kind of decided that I should concentrate on looking after the family at that point in time. That was why I left the music scene for a while, I was on the road a lot, and my husband didn't like that.
In 1997, I released a gospel album titled 'Simply Esse.' Although the album didn't do too well, maybe because of my family I couldn't promote the album like I did when I was single. Then I went from town to city promoting the album. And my husband was so busy, so it was imperative that I stayed at home with the children. Along the line, I started running a company with my husband, Carvers Studios which we started 1996, we were into pre and post productions for movies and we had a sound studio as well. So, at that point in time, Carvers Studio was the studio to be. Carvers Studio and my family took up a lot of my time, that I couldn't concentrate on my music.
So, I could not promote that album at that time, and that affected the sales and publicity. In 2000, I moved to Ireland with my children, I had my third child, a boy, there. I worked for a while to make ends meet. Later I started going for local auditions of musical shows. I started singing again, I later joined a jazz band, we were playing weekly gig. And that was how my interest for music was rekindled. After a while when I finished my masters which I started in 2003, I decided to come back home to start all over again. I decided to come back home to follow up my musical career.
Back then I thought it was a good decision for me to take a break from my musical career. But if I have to rethink now, I wouldn't take a break totally, I would probably opt to be a recording artiste if I don't want to be a performing artiste.
My husband supported me in the way he understood. But if I was to look at it now, at this point in time in my life, I would say I probably needed more support than he gave.
On her marriage
I have been married now for 11 years, I believe strongly that I should have gotten a better bargain out of marriage, than what am having now. I can't say that I have a very happy marriage, however, from what I have learnt with life, a lot of people will tell me not all marriages are truly happy. I have seen very few people happy in marriage.
However, with my case, being that I was brought up in a Christian home, and for the fact that I have seen the way my father and mother behaved in marriage, I tried my best possible to be everything that my husband wanted me to be. When I released my first and second albums, they were doing great. I was having musical shows all over.
But by the time I got married, just at the peak of my career, one of the things my husband told me then, was to stop performing. I was to stop singing, and performing because he didn't think that it was befitting of a married woman to do so. I was quite shocked at first because he was into the profession, he was a producer. So in my own little naïve way of thinking. I was thinking that my first champion for my career would be my husband but because I loved him so much I agreed to step down, and to look after the family. But along the line I have come to realise that the attention that I gave to the marriage, the sacrifices that I made for the marriage were not really reciprocated by my husband. Because he continued in his career and business and I encouraged him in whatever he wanted to do. In fact, when we were about to start Carvers Studio, I was not meant to be one of the managers. It was when everybody disappointed him, people were kind of out to use him.
That was when he realised that he had an educated wife, and that was how I started running the studio. Then before he does any business, he would run it by me, because I think he knows I understood a little bit about business. More so that I studied Economics, we were able to rub minds on business. So, when it came to running Carvers Studio, it was something for me to do because I was close in a kind of way to showbusiness. Because I was working with people in the music industry, they were coming to record their music, they were coming to shoot films and editing. That gave me a kind of a false sense of belonging. In the sense that I could relate with people who were working but I was not exactly doing what I wanted to do, which was singing and acting. I produced a few films which I acted a few roles in, I produced 'Season of Tears' and 'Yet Another Day.' And at that point in time they were things that he felt maybe as his wife, producing was okay. I was at the peak of my career when I got married, it was like everything went down.
And I did all that, I sacrificed all that for my marriage and my husband, because I loved him, I never believed that I could ever live without Kingsley, at one point in time in my life. He was the air that I was breathing, he was my source of life, that was the way I took him.
So, whatever he wanted I did, but as time went on I realised that, I probably gave in too easily, or gave in too much to what he wanted to do, that he started seeing me as someone who he could just relate to as a motherly figure. He didn't see me as his wife, or lover, but I know that at a particular point in time, he would come to me for business advice.
Whatever business thing he wanted to do he would discuss it with me, we would talk about it, and I was always there for him. But like I said, I have not been happy in this marriage, because I believe that I have given so much and I have received so little in the area of love and attention. There were times very, very early in the marriage, when I would be home on my own for long days and nights. But I took it that my husband was a very busy man, so I accepted all those. Maybe if I hadn't been so naïve at the very beginning, if I had put my foot down, maybe it would have been different.
I remember in 1997 when I was about to release my album 'Simply Esse,' I told my husband just before then that I wanted to go back into music. And he said fine, and I said I was going into gospel music, and he said it was even better. Because he didn't want me singing secular songs, I mean that wasn't important at that point in time. Because I had reached a certain level in my life as a Christian, where I just wanted to use my voice to praise God. So I told him, look, people know me as Esse Agesse, and I would love to be Esse Agesse Ogoro. And he just went wild, he actually cut his hand in the process of getting angry. He almost died and I would have felt responsible for that.
What happened was that, we were having a meeting, it was like a family meeting. We were rejoicing with one of my brothers-in-law, because God saved his life from an accident and in that meeting the family members were asking me, 'Kingsley told us that you said you want to go back to your music career, and you want to be known as Esse Agesse Ogoro.' And I said yes for consistency and continuity for my fans, that I want to be known as Esse Agesse Ogoro, not for anything else.
It's not a matter of pride, holding on to my maiden name, I just want to be consistent for my fans. He just got angry when I said that, stood up, and instead of opening the door gently to go out, he just used his hand, and it was a glass door, he just banged his hand on the door and the glass went directly into his veins. By the time he was bringing his hand out, there was blood all over, I almost fainted. I was pregnant with my second child at that point in time, there was blood all over the floor, all because I said I wanted to be Esse Agesse Ogoro.
When I wanted to go back to singing in 1997, I had reached a point in time I had to tell him this is what I want to do. And he knew at that point in time that I was getting tensed up. So when he accepted, for me to go back to singing, the next problem was that I should not put Agesse. So, I told him the reason I wanted Agesse to remain was for consistency. When that thing happened I spoke with my father and my mummy and they both said it was okay to leave my maiden name out, just be Esse, if that's what he says you should do, instead of us having a casualty on our hands. So, when the album was going to be released in 1997, I titled it 'Simply Esse' because I kind of wanted to introduce the new name to my fans. But it was a terrible flop.
The album was a flop. Nobody knows who Simply Esse is, nobody knows who Esse is, who they know is Esse Agesse. Even though very close families launched the album and everything, it just didn't get the proper feedback, because a lot of people didn't know who Esse was. And that point in time my children were too young so I couldn't promote the album. I should have promoted the album.
Maybe it would have been easy in a family where both husband and wife look after the children, if one person is off the other person is with the kids. My case wasn't so, I was mostly alone with the kids. And what really brought me down then was because I believe I didn't have the kind of support that I should have as an artiste from my husband.
But then in all, it is hard for me to say because it will really look as if I am washing my dirty linen outside. After all these years, when some people would come and ask me, we hear that your husband is doing this or that, I just keep saying no, no, but I have reached a stage in my life where it is hard for me to be lying.
Some people come to tell me that my husband is having an affair with this person or that person. Because I want to hold my family unit together, I say no, I lied, and denied it. But along the line in this marriage, there had been a situation where I almost committed suicide. That was in 1997 when he was shooting one of his movies in Calabar.
I almost committed suicide, I actually scraped off my hair as if I was mourning. (At this point in the interview tears started rolling down her chics). There are some names in this industry now that I would tell you that my husband has slept with, and you probably wouldn't believe me.
And they are all young girls, and that is the silly thing about it. But I have taken it in my stride, I have behaved in a mature manner, I have covered things up. Along the line I have covered a lot of things up, just to live in a false sense of hope and marriage.
At this point in my life, things have happened that I believe should either make this marriage stronger or break it up entirely. I would want my marriage to remain, I would want my husband to stop sleeping around with little girls. Because I have been very faithful to my husband, I have never ever slept with another man in my life, since I got married to my husband. Even when we were going out as boyfriend and girlfriend, I didn't have any other affair apart from my husband.
When I was younger, I used to judge women, when I hear that a married woman is having an affair, bla, bla, bla, I used to judge them. But being in a marriage myself I have come to realise that a lot of people have outlets. For a married woman to have an affair, she must have seen something, one or two things that will just make her say 'I would not come and go crazy, I better do this.' But I have not been able to do that, I am a born again Christian, I believe that God does not want me to do that.
I have tried to preach to my husband he would not listen, I am ashamed sometimes that the children, I am calling them children now, because honestly some of them are like 17, 18, years old, God knows that he would be able to father some of these young girls he goes out with.
But basically, I have reached a point in my life, where I think I shouldn't deceive myself any longer. I believe I should not pretend that everything is fine, when they are not. He is a very good man Kingsley, he has a good heart, he's a very helpful person. If he has friends who need his help, he's always there in time of need to help them. I can't say the same about myself, apart from the fact that he paid the fees for my masters.
And I can say that is the only thing he has given me bulk money for in my whole life of marriage to him. I did my masters in 2003/2004 session in international business, in Waterford Institute of Technology in Ireland. And he encouraged me by paying for the tuition. He has been sending the little money that he can, for the upkeep of his children. But I believe he should send more. But all in all he has been a very good provider for his kids. But he has neglected his role as a husband to me, he has. He has. I can't say that in the eleven years of marriage, I have had my husband to myself for one full year, I cannot say that. But all in all like I said, he has a good heart, he's a very, very hard working man. In fact, hard working to a fault. Hard working to the point of neglecting his own family. I see Kingsley as somebody who wants to do the right thing but gets easily tempted by situations around him.
Something happened while we were in Ireland, and I got so angry and threw him out of the house, I got really, really angry because of what happened. I don't know where he had the idea that I was interested in another man, I don't know why he ever thought of that. Because I have never been unfaithful to him. What he did then got me so angry, I just told him to get out. And I would have done the same if I were in Nigeria.
He actually wrote some things which I thought was not proper to write to this person he thought I was having an affair with. I only found out later that he did not send the letter to the person. But, he wrote some things in that letter which I thought if he really cared about me and the children he won't write such.
And I told him, you don't do that and when he was trying to tell me about the reply he got to the letter, I told him I don't care about the reply. Because what he wrote just proved that all my 11 years of marriage to me means nothing. I told him that if he cared about me and the children he wouldn't have written such a letter to my alleged lover. So, I got angry and threw him out, but even after I threw him out, I said a lot of things to him which I believed were true at that point in time.
But I was angry while I was saying it. I have never been that angry with him all our years of marriage. But by the time I realised what I did, I now wrote him an e-mail, that I was sorry for screaming at him, but I don't take back the things that I said because I believed they were true, but I should not have thrown him out of the house. My kids were not in the house the day it happened I made sure they had gone to school first. Basically why I am saying this, is because I know the story is making the round that my husband locked me out of the house, and it is true, he did. When I came back to Nigeria he locked me out, and I believe he wanted to retaliate. But along the line, I believe he just felt that since I sent him out of our home in Ireland, that he had the right to tell me not to go into our home in Nigeria.
I think we both behaved a bit childishly, I take responsibilities for my actions and I don't have any cause to lie at this stage in my life.
I mean, that's not the first time Kingsley is locking me out of the house. He locked me out when we were young, I am not trying to watch my dirty linen in public. But a lot of people have been coming to me, to ask, is it true that this happened or that happened? The truth of the matter is that we are still married, but like I said to everybody who asked me, there is no marriage that is easy, that is smooth. So, we have problems in our marriage, which I believe by the grace we will solve. Or we will overcome at the appointed time, but right now is a situation whereby there is so many things happening around us. And I have decided to use this particular time to focus on my career, instead of dwelling on my unhappiness in my marriage, or dwelling on the fact that my husband is unfaithful to me. I don't want to dwell on those things any more, I used to dwell on the fact that he was unfaithful. It used to hit me, because I have been very faithful and I have loved him all our marriage life.
I have caught him red-handed before once, and that was in Calabar. We were in Calabar to shoot the film 'The Return' in 1997, that was when I almost committed suicide. He left our hotel room and went into the hotel room of his driver to sleep with a woman. So, I got there, I broke in and he threw the lady into the bathroom and I wanted to go into the bathroom. I just went crazy, I went crazy at that particular time. It was really hushed, the thing was so hushed that a lot of people didn't know that that kind of thing happened. Only very close friends and family knew about it. In fact they had to drag me away, I was weeping like a baby, they had to drag me away from the scene. I was so ashamed. We were in our hotel room together, and I said it was okay for him to go and have a drink with his friends. But he should please buy me food on his way back. Because we had worked all day and we were so tired, the next thing I just fell asleep. And I woke up in the morning my husband was not there. So I went to the driver's hotel room to knock on his door, to find out where my husband was.
As I knocked on the door, it was my husband's voice that answered me. And I was so surprised, and I asked what he was doing in the room, and I got so angry and broke in. It was like a scene from a movie, that year was a terrible year for me. I was so upset and at that time, I thought maybe it was because I only had girls for him at that time, that was the reason he behaved like that to me. You know the culture here about male child. But in all fairness to him he never told me that if I don't have a male child for me he was going to do this or that.
He told me that the two girls were okay and he didn't want to have any more kids. After that issue died down I told him I have prayed and I know God is going to give me a son. And truly God gave me a son. After I delivered my son, I thought things would come back to normalcy, he would be more of a family man. I thought that would bring my husband closer to me.
People think that I took off to Ireland, it was a joint decision. It has nothing to do with Agatha sleeping with my husband. I believe strongly that Agatha did not have any affair with my husband. Agatha is a very close friend of mine, we go to each other's house.
Like Fred is a very close friend of mine. I go to their house, my kids sleep in their house, their kid sleeps in our house. The fact that I wasn't around should not stop our family friends from visiting each other. So, if Agatha went to my house or my husband's office, they were friends. So, if she needed his help, or he needed her help, I don't see why two friends should not help each other, because maybe Agatha was having problems with her own marriage at that time. Her relationship with Kingsley will definitely spark up a kind of rumour.
What happened in Calabar too, I later found out that the woman he was in the hotel room with then, is one of the top actresses that was banned recently. Then she was a very young girl, and unknown, she was about 18 or 19 years old them. She is a very, very popular actress now.
Life itself is a teacher, it teaches you. At first I went in blindly because I loved my husband. I never thought that a time would come that I would say that I was unhappy with Kingsley or the marriage. I have always felt that I was marrying the man that I fell in love with, and we were going to live happily ever after. And like he always says, I should never expect Mills and Boom love. But I have learned to put my trust totally in God, and if I did not have Christ in my life, I don't think I would have been able to go through half of what I went through. I either would have succumbed to the pressure or committed suicide.
I felt very useless, I felt very dirty, I felt unimportant. I scraped my hair, I looked like a woman who was mourning, something died inside of me. I looked at myself, am I not beautiful enough, am I not educated? I am articulate, I am an achiever. Looking back now I think it was insecurity that made him tell me to stop singing. I am not trying to sound like I am so full of myself. I am a very beautiful woman and I know how to carry myself. So, if I had not stopped my music then, I guess maybe I wouldn't be having this interview with you.
But thank God I am back. I am in the studio now working on my album with my producer Sammy Okposo. Right now I really want to concentrate on my musical career. I just want my fans to know that Esse Agesse is back with a bang.