MY FIRST TIME ON STAGE WAS A PUNISHMENT -CHRISTINE, WINNER, NOKIA FIRST CHANCE REALITY SHOW, 2007
Four years after winning the Nokia First Chance Music talent hunt, Christine Ben-Ameh is out to make an impact in the Nigerian music industry with her album 'Life Under Construction'. Her captivating voice conveys messages of love, hope, strength and triumph that mesmerizes listeners.
In a recent chat with Daily Sun, Christine reveals that music is a lifestyle and it takes a strong mind to make it in the industry. She also doesn't have time for romanance now because she is giving her all to her career. Excerpts:
You won the Nokia First Chance in 2007, what doors did it open for you?
Nokia First Chance 2007 came with a lot of promise and winning the competition was a doorway to making good success in the Nigerian and international music industry. Winning the show has till date been a solid reference in my dealings within and outside music business.
During that competition, what did you learn that has helped you become a better person?
I learnt and am still learning to adapt to the different dynamics of human behaviour.
What did you do afterwards?
I took a two-year break to obtain my first degree. I can say that I have returned to the industry I call home. Futhermore, I was also an on-air personality for a short while at Silverbird's Rhythm 93.7FM Jos.
Four years after, how have you fared in music?
I believe and many have confirmed to me that mine had been a steady growth. I have come to accept that because my path is different, and things will not always work out in life like I want them to yet. I appreciate that as I am changing, I can better achieve my dream of building an everlasting legacy with my music.
What are you up to lately?
Since the online release of the debut album, 'Life under construction' on December 31, last year, I have been actively performing at a number of live events. Recently, I partnered David Okereke and Ada Inyama on the FYS (Find Your Space) movement where we in collaboration with other performing buddies consisting of artistes, dancers, poets, etc come together to present art in its complete form. We are putting up live shows with CHRISTINE and her band.
This takes place every Thursday at a chosen venue which we often announce. Besides this, videos are being shot and more songs are being written and recorded as more shows are being played.
The entertainment industry is a tough one, would you rather make money or a make a name, that is leave a legacy?
Making both sounds like a much better option. It has to be balanced.
What would you not do to make it in the industry?
I would never want to lie. You don't have to remember the truth but you have to remember every lie if you must not get caught. That's another prison in itself.
You seem to be quiet in the industry, what is responsible for this?
There is a right time for everything. At the right time, Christine won't be so quiet anymore.
You perform live shows at events, do you think you have to do more to make an impact in the industry?
There is no doubt that hard-work pays. But persevering and being patient for the right time will leave a lasting mark even after you have achieved all that you dreamed of. When I perform and appear at events the impact is more for the people than for the industry. I'm a role model and if I can't impact them enough, whatever weight I carry in the industry will eventually be too much that I might pull myself down.
Many say people just go into music because they feel it is the easiest thing to do, is this why you went into music?
Music is tough. You've to love it to stay dedicated to it. It's a lifestyle. No, no, no, music is not easy at all. You must be perceptive and knowledgeable enough about your environment and the people around you to reach out effectively with music. You also have to maintain your individuality while attending to that commercial need to satisfy the general public. It is not doing this that there is always some confusion. Music is for strong minds.
Tell us more about the Nokia First Chance competition, what do you think gave you the edge over other contestants?
God's favor gave me the edge. Other contestants are equally as talented as I am. Anybody could have won. But every man has his time and that was my time to win.
What do you think of the different reality shows on screen, are they helping our youths or are the organizers just out to make money?
Every man has his opinion on this matter. Artistes need to know exactly what they want before rushing out to do reality shows and have a plan after. Ask yourself if that opportunity is paramount to your success in the industry or if you can achieve your success by other means. Often times, the seemingly much easier path to take is the reality shows which bring you the needed attention and positive public relations supposedly free of charge but after that, what next?
Many products of reality shows are not really making the desired impact that accompanies the razzmatazz of the shows, what do you think is responsible for this?
I would say lack of planning on both the part of the show organizers and the winning contestant.
What have you done recently to improve yourself and your career?
Personal style makes a world of difference. I have teamed up with one of the most innovative stylists and make up artistes the industry is privileged to have. Her name is Mary Jane Nsan. I also have put together a band of very talented veteran instrumentalists who are dedicated to making sure that we make a major positive impression every time we go out to perform.
What kind of relationship do you have with other artistes?
I share strong friendships with a number of other artistes and those whom I am not very close to, I remain cordial and respectful.
How has it been as an artiste?
A terribly difficult learning process. Being an artiste has taught me many things.
Are you fulfilled?
I am very fulfilled because I am doing what I have passion for.
When did your flair for music begin?
As far back as I can remember. Music runs in my family.
What else do you do aside music and performing?
I write poetry, short stories, I love to travel and volunteer with my parents' NGO, 'El Shaddai Children's Home' in Makurdi, Benue State.
Are we going to see more of your poetry side?
What are the challenges you are facing in the industry now?
None that I know of. No good business lacks challenges but winners find them trivial.
Were you afraid the first time you were on stage?
I was. It was a form of punishment where I had to sing in front of the whole school during evening service at boarding school. I was in Jss 1 and the applause after I sang eased all the tension I felt earlier.
A lot of artistes would say that nudity sells in music videos, is this true?
Every man has his own secret of success. I don't believe nudity can contribute to lasting success in the industry.
Some people can pull it off and survive three years or even more. But, is that the kind of legacy you want to leave behind for your children?
How is your album doing?
The album is doing relatively well and had been gaining positive reviews
What is the inspiration behind Life Under Construction?
The pursuit of happiness and fulfillment. It presents an experience through the eyes, heart and mind of Christine. It tells the tale of a life under construction in its purest form, containing tales of love, of struggles, of personal growth, and finally, triumphs.
What are your likes and dislikes?
I don't appreciate lies or opportunists. loyal friends are wonderful assets.
What about high and low moments?
The times spent with my family are high moments. Every time I perform is a high moment as well. Low moments never last.
After this album, what next?
How about your upbringing?
My brothers and I had a very sheltered upbringing and our parents brought us up to love God. We are a very close knit family.
Can you tell us more about your family?
We are from Ogbadibo in Orokam district of Benue State and my parents presently live in Makurdi. Indeed, music runs in my family. My parents sing. My mum was in the church choir and my elder brother is an excellent songwriter. His wife also sings and plays the guitar. My twin brother plays the piano, guitar and also sings. I had my first public singing performance at a small concert in my hometown.
Your role models?
My father and mother.
How do you handle advances from men?
I take it in my stride and move on with my life. I handle them with maturity.
Would you marry a man for money as most girls do today?
If a man fears God, supports my dreams; if we are compatible and he makes a lot of money that would be an added advantage.
Do you even have time for relationship given your busy schedule?
For now, I maintain positive friendships.
Are you telling me that you don't have time for romance?
Right now, I am focusing on my career. It is the most important thing to me.
Could you tell us what we don't know about you?
I am a graduate of Mass Communication from the University of Jos. I am an R & B soul artiste. I love traveling and I also have a chronic shoe fetish.