She is neither married to a sitting governor nor occupies a government house but earned the moniker “first lady” as a kid amongst her numerous nicknames. Now a musician with hope to take her music to the next level, Ibebuike who started singing as a toddler told Funke Olaode
She could have been the girl next door. Chizoba Ibebuike, native of Umueshi town in Ideato-South Local Government Area of Imo State, is a warm and kind-hearted person from a family of seven, where respect is de rigueur. Though currently a musician, what struck this reporter in an encounter was her moniker “first lady”. Curiously, the reporter in me wanted to know where it spurred from. She just laughed it off as she explained the concept behind the name.
“It is a nickname just like every other person’s nickname,” she recalls. “I grew up hearing people call me all sorts of names like Okenwanyi, Lioness, Eze Nwanyi, Miss World, Her Excellency and so many others. Lioness (Nwanyiagu) is actually the name I was given at birth. It was the name of my great grand-mother whom I reincarnated (for those that believe in reincarnation). I’m used to so many nicknames but I decided to stick to Firstlady. I guess the way I behave and carry myself made people to call me all these names.”
For Ibebuike, singing came to her naturally as a toddler and gradually. She later saw it as a means of livelihood. “I’ve been singing since I was a toddler. I sang to my parents, friends, schoolmates and in my church too. I started writing my own songs when I was in secondary school but professionally I started in 2008 when I launched my first album, I’m Blessed. It was a gospel album but I didn’t promote it very well after the launch because of financial constraints. I never had a promoter or sponsor. I did everything myself with the little money I had.”
Like many other musicians who had toed the same line, she is gradually drifting away from gospel music to embrace the secular world. To her, the urge to go into secular music was borne out of her fans preference. “After the first album my fans started telling me to go into secular music saying that they appreciated it more,” she explained. “Initially I refused because I never saw myself singing worldly music. I grew up dreaming to be like Cece Winans and Mary Mary. I’m a very emotional and spiritual person and singing gospel music was the only thing that gave me spiritual fulfilment. After much persuasion from friends I had to start writing secular songs.”
Currently promoting her current album titled Umu Nwoke, which means “Men’’ in English, she says: “It is all about what men do to women, how they take us for granted. I am just advising them to change. I did the track to give it back to Flavour (…) and to let him know we can ‘yab’ men back the way he does to women in his songs. I want to challenge him and let him know I’m not comfortable with the way he calls women ‘ashawo’ in his songs but I will never be vulgar.”
“Right now, I am promoting my album. I even featured a male artiste, Moi Moi, who doubled as my producer. He did the male version of the song in response to what I called “Men” in the track. I did it that way to balance the equation. I know men are going to love the collaboration. It was supposed to be an all-girl thing but the female rapper that was supposed to work with us didn’t show up at the studio and being an impatient girl, an inspiration came to me and I asked Mr. Moi to do the male response.”
“For now I’m doing online promotion. There are links where one can download my song and share it like Youtube, Hulkshare, Maxibeat, 4share and so many others. Soon it will be on the radio stations across the country and the video will come up very much later. I’m just doing it alone gradually since I don’t have a record label. My fans should exercise a little patience. I will get there soon.”
Her unique selling point according to her is the inspiration listeners would derive from it. “When you listen to it you will be convinced that I am in music to stay. I’m a stubborn, daring and crazy girl with perfectionist tendencies. I do things the way I want to and I don’t care about what fake people feel or say as long as it is not about them or against the law. Again, I’m a very beautiful girl with a sweet voice and I’m a good dancer too. These are my unique selling points”.
There are so many musicians both male and female she admires so much both in the Nigerian music industry and abroad like P Square, Wizkid, Flavour, Brymo, Timaya, Tiwa Savage, Don Jazzy, D’banj, Asa, Sasha, Storm Rex, Goldie, Rihanna, R Kelly, and so many others but there is only one person whose music, voice and lifestyle trills her a lot and she her my role model, a total woman. “She is no other person than Beyounce.”