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It’s a hard world for female artistes

By SOLA BALOGUN
Stella Monye
Stella Monye

What an'Outburst' from the Samba-girl! Delta State-born singer, Stella Monye, said recently that she is dynamite that is waiting eagerly to explode. The explosion somehow came with the release of Outburst, her latest album which contains all her musical works in a single package.

Inside the same album is a remix of her evergreen track; Oko Mi Ye which shot her into limelight in the 1980s as a track in her historic debut entitled: Mr Right.

The latter was soon followed by Samba which really was a hit, owing to Monye's thoughtful lyrics and rhythmic compositions.
In no time, Samba-girl became a household name in the Nigerian music scene even as she continued to wax stronger in her vocation. Despite the competition that rocked the circle of female singers in the 1980s, Stella kept on with her career, dishing out albums and performing at major concerts across the nation.

And while many of her contemporaries have since abandoned music or relocated abroad, Monye said she would not give up. Recently, she planned to play host to music lovers and hundreds of her fans to the public presentation of her album, Outburst, which according to her, is a collection of her past songs as well as a few new ones. But the presentation was aborted following the death of Evangelist Sunny Okosuns for whom Stella had a daughter about 30 years ago.

Aside the popular Oko Mi Ye, other tracks in the new album, according to her, include: Kilode (What Happened), Elefe (Someone reneges on his or her promises, as well asAjagunsegun; a gospel song; Why and Ife (Love).

But when asked about how she managed to blaze the trail in a seemingly male-dominated world, Monye has this to say: “In this part of the world, female artistes are not getting the kind of support they need. We've always heard people blame female musicians for not being serious.
But how can they improve on their career, when they are not being supported or encouraged.”
The Afro-pop star who but the airwaves at the age of 19 said further, “our society is tough for women, this is a society in which people believe that a women's place is in the kitchen. Many of us who played music in my generation started when we were very young. But for me, I don't know how to give up in anything I do, so I had to keep on going.”

Monye did not stop at this, she also believes that female artistes are mostly used and dumped while some of them retire to their marriages or veer into other professions such as business and politics.

Latest album
Outburst was slated for official public presentation before the burial of Evangelist Sonny Okosuns. We had to postpone it in order not to appear insensitive even though it set me back financially because all arrangements had been completed. Since one cannot buy life and it could have been anybody, I had to shelve it and it's now that I am starting the arrangement all over again. We plan to hold it in October after my Port Harcourt show.

Life as a musician
I have had my ups and downs but it's been very adventurous and exciting. The creative part is most interesting, creating a melody that does not exist is most fulfilling.

Current projects
Apart from grooming (1,000) one thousand female voices in a feat of songs for charity powered by Women Help Initiative Nigeria (WHIN), a new non- profit non-governmental organization, I also help to coordinate feeding of school children to develop education in Nigeria and other welfare works in Qauranga Foundation powered by Bolaji Rosiji. My album project is also there, so I have my hands full and am trading right now.

Inspiration
God is it, it couldn't be better, or He is the one responsible for the strength. Also, my environment inspire me a great deal in the sense that the things I see (nature), the people I relate with, the things I hear and smell I perceive are things that constitute my source of inspitation. I feel the presence of God in the things around me and that also inspires me.

Music industry
Unlike the record companies, the show business has picked up in Nigeria, we thank God, the money for shows are huge now, but it can be better. We are yet to find our feet, it is impossible to believe that after several decades of dealing with professional record companies, we are now running to Alaba boys, there is nothing professional about the industry yet. It is sad but we will get there one day.

My Son's ordeal
Sometimes, I must confess I don't like to revisit my son's ordeal, but the tragic part is now over, he is back on his feet and doing what his mates do, but he still goes for medical check up.

Love life
It is exciting to have love life especially if you fall in love with the right person. But I'm a very busy person, so my love life suffers, so how can I call that a love life?

Success of Oko mi ye
Oko mi ye was a huge success unlike the other records that were affected by my movement from one record company to another. All the same, I thank God for everything as I hope to pick up my pieces nicely.

Background
I am from a humble background. I am educated both officially and streetwise. I love my brother and sister, I still have a surviving mother. I am a humble person, I'm lovely, nice and passionate about whatever I lay my hands on, be it love, work or assistance to others.