I’m Married To My Music —Stella Monye
Q: Stella, what has been happening to you lately?
A: Well, I am fine. But things have always happened. Maybe you will say I have not been on TV lately, but I don't think that is the only place one can be, to let people know you are still active. I still do some works in the background.
Q: But people are insinuating that you have quit music because you joined one group. Can you throw light on this?
A: How is that possible? A soldier is always a soldier, even when there is no war to fight. He remains in the barracks. There is no way I can quit music.
Q: Are you on break?
A: I am not on break. Although I work with an NGO, that is not enough to make me quit music. Maybe you will say it is taking much of my time, but I have just finished work on an album, which will be released soon.
Q: Why did it take you so long to release an album?
A: Well, I believe in doing things the proper way. I did not want to release an album without proper arrangements. It takes a lot to release an album because you have to follow it up as well as promote it to make people feel it. So, it requires a lot of hard work.
Q: What is happening to female musicians lately, it seems most of you are not as active as before?
A: I think what you have just said is what is happening to the industry at large. I guess it is because we live in an environment where women are oppressed, because if you and I go to bid for business, of course, nobody will ask you for anything. Probably, they will say 'give us a kickback.' But for a woman, they won't ask for a kickback, but rather, a 'kick-in.'
Q: Do you mean sexual harassment?
A: Yes, sort of. And then, there is too much of god-fatherism, mafiadom and other vices going on that a woman of integrity and dignity would want to avoid.
Q: Are you trying to say that you have been sexually harassed before?
A: I don't even want to say that. I mean, I am not a kid. If I say that, it means I am acting like a kid. I won't say I was harassed or not, more over, anybody can be harassed, even if you are a lawyer, engineer or doctor. But it depends on how you go about it. If I go anywhere and feel I'll be harassed, I will just stop going to the place, even if my life depends on it. And I know I have lost many things because of that.
Q: What are the things?
A: Well, I can't readily give you any example now but I know that I have lost many golden opportunities and at the end of it, I just say to myself, “to hell, if this is what it will cost me to get it, I don't want it.”
Q: Can we now say the industry is no more fair to women?
A: Yes, to some extent. But things are beginning to change.
Q: What have you done lately, because people try to say you no longer perform on stage?
A: Of course, I have. For instance, last year, I was very active. I played at the Abuja At 30 Concert, I also performed at an event organised by the EFCC recently. I also performed at the late Chief (Mrs.) Stella Obasanjo's memorial concert with Tuface, Ruggedman and others. I played recently at the La Campaigne Tropicana Resort. So, I have been working.
Q: Have you now chosen to perform at bigger concerts?
A: That's what the stuff looks like, but I don't think that is what it is. I do play at private parties as well as other shows, provided there is good arrangement in place.
Q: It seems your type of music is no longer as vibrant as it used to be?
A: No, I don't think so. As you know, I play African-pop and African music is African music, there is no way it can die. What I just don't understand about Nigeria is our orientation. I don't want to go into that now, but my kind of music is still acceptable and you don't get tired as a singer, instead, you wax stronger.
Q: But you will soon be 50 years old, can we say your age is responsible for some of the things happening to you lately?
A: I don't even think so. The industry is just not right and the mentality and lifestyle of some of us is nothing to write home about. It is not like we don't know the right things to do as most of us have travelled out of the country to see how civilised people do things, but we are not just interested in doing things right.
Q: Can we then say you worked with the NGO because you needed a means of survival, more so that you are a single parent?
A: No, that is not the reason. I think it is because my son had a problem and he was rescued by Nigerians. This is just a way I can give back the love to the society that has shown love to me and my son. I think going to work for charity and touching other people's lives is one way I can pay back since I cannot go about knocking on people's doors to say “thank you” for donating towards my son's surgery.
Q: What is the state of your son's health now?
A: He is okay because he is now back on his feet. The tragic period is over but he still attends the clinic as the ailment takes a long period to heal finally. But I have cause to smile now because God is healing him. He is no more in a state of emergency.
Q: Many people had thought he would be treated abroad, what happened?
A: It is a long story and one I wouldn't want to go into because it is like opening a fresh wound. I have put those things behind me. It is an emotional thing I can't start talking about now.
Q: Were you duped by some people?
A: I just told you that I don't want to go into it again. Maybe some day, after he is properly healed, I can sit and talk about it.
Q: Apart from your album, what other things do you plan to do?
A: Well, I am still trying to put things together. When the time comes, you will get to know about what other things I am planning to do. But right now, I am working towards the public presentation of the album, which will come up soon.
Q: Are you going back to the studio to re-mix some of your old songs according to your earlier promise?
A: Yes, I have been doing that and I am even adding some new ones because each time I go out, there is always a new experience.
Q: What do you intend to name it?
A: The title is Outburst.
Q: What do you want to burst?
A: You just wait and see.
Q: You started music at a tender age, can we say your life as a single parent affected your career?
A: Yes, I can even tell you that my career has robbed me of so many things in life.
Q: ike what?
A: Things that one would naturally want to do as a woman.
Q: Can we then say you are married to music?
A: Yes, I have always been married to it.
Q: Do you want to continue living your life as a single parent?
A: Well, marriage, to me, is not a do-or-die affair. If the right person comes along, I will get married. I don't think it is ever too late for anybody, it is just that people get desperate about it.
Q: Do you have any regrets playing music?
A: No, it has its own good side too, so there is no way I can have any regrets playing music.