Why I gave up on helping upcoming female artistes – Azeezat

Azeezat is one of the few lucky women to have become successful artistes in Nigeria. In this interview with OSEYIZA OOGBODO, the singer, who recently co-authored a book, I Bared My Chest, along with 20 other women, speaks on the book and sundry issues about female singers. Excerpts:

 

Your book is entitled “I Bared My Chest.” What message is it really passing across?

The truth is that some spoilt people will think “I Bared My Chest” is about being naked physically, but it’s actually about emptying your mind, opening up yourself and showing yourself for who you are. Yeah, it’s going naked, but in a psychological sense, you know, that the only way you can become unstoppable is for you to go naked psychologically. Be yourself, own up to whatever has happened to you, accept, embrace all your failures and your ups and downs and be true to who you are and that’s the only way you can become unstoppable and succeed.

Twenty-one of you co-authored that book. How did you all arrive at that title? What was the process in choosing it? I’m sure that wasn’t the working title.

Actually, the lead coordinator is Alex Okoroji. You know Chief Okoroji’s daughter, and she collaborated with Frankie Picasso from Canada and the two of them started inviting the 19 others. So, I was invited by Alex, and then we were sent questions about our lives, the things we’ve been through and all of that, and we were able to answer them and that culminated in each chapter.

How many pages is it?

It’s about 700 pages.

Really! 700?

Yes, 700 pages. But what we’ve done has made it easy for people. I mean, who is going to carry 700 pages around? It’s very heavy.  So, what we’ve done basically is, there’s the e-book and the audio book. You can actually download and listen. Each one of us recorded our chapters in our authentic voices. Whoever you are worldwide, because our ages are between 16 and 60, and we’ve people from every continent; so, whoever you are, whatever you’ve been through, you can identify with something in the book that will tell you that look, it’s okay, this person went through this, such and such that I went through, and was able to succeed, then who am I not to succeed? So, it’s an anthology to encourage people to be the best of themselves.

 

There was a time I put my own career on hold to help other female artistes. I mean, at the end of the day, I had to give up, you know, because you’re trying to do good, and your good is being interpreted as something else; that it’s either opportunistic or, you

 

So when did the book get on the shelves?

It was released January 18, 2018. We’re having the Nigerian signing on the 14th of March, which also coincides with the CNN My Freedom Day.

But is the book selling or not?

Yeah, you know, a lot of us are greenhorns. We also published it by ourselves. So, it’s a work in progress, and you’ll see that from January when it was released, it’s been trickling in and that’s why we’ve also mapped out different events worldwide to continue to promote it.

You’ve participated in your first book. Should we expect more books from you?

Definitely. It’s been a great dream of mine, honestly, to be an author. I started writing even before I started singing, you know. My first publication was at the age of thirteen in a national newspaper. So, I’ve been a writer all my life. And now that I know how it’s done, I don’t think I can stop.

There’s the belief in the music industry right now that female musicians don’t support one another. Even Yemi Alade said this recently. Do you agree with her?

The truth is this, there’s a general belief that women generally don’t support each other, you know. And every time we have the opportunity, we try as much as possible to correct that belief. The truth is this, even when you’re trying to be, I don’t want to be a naysayer, but the truth must be told. I’ve spent close to twenty years in this industry. So, if I’m saying something, you should know that I know what I’m talking about. Even when you’re trying to correct that belief, the person you’re trying to support feels that there’s something behind it. Why’re you supporting me? It’s because her career is not good again. Oh, if her career is good, why will she be supporting me? Or, look at her, this advice that she’s giving to me, what has she used it to do for herself? There was a time I put my own career on hold to help other female artistes. I mean, at the end of the day, I had to give up, you know, because you’re trying to do good, and your good is being interpreted as something else; that it’s either opportunistic or, you know, it’s just not being interpreted for what it is. One of the things my people taught me then was that, look, you cannot be a queen without having subjects, because you’ll remember that there was a point in time in this industry that it was just Azeezat. So, I wanted a situation where we could have more females. It wasn’t sweet being the only one. But, you know, I just had to give up.

So, what’s the way out of that particular problem?

The way out is in every female, not just musicians, but every female trying to make efforts in their own small world to support another female. You know, they even say it in politics, the biggest number of voters that vote for the male folks are the females. If you are running for office and you don’t have the women behind you, forget it, you’ll not succeed. So, how come that there are less female politicians in office? It means that women don’t support themselves. So, if it pains you, if it’s disturbing to you, then make an effort in your own environment to support another female. One. Two, when you are being supported, know it that it’s a seed that is being sown into your life so that you can be better and be empowered to help others. Not that somebody is trying to bring you down or has ulterior motives.