Naomi Oyintare Mac, 21, took the music scene by storm two years ago when she sang her way to a sensational victory as the First Runner-Up on the maiden show of the Nigerian Idols competition in 2011. Her serenading and soul-stirring voice stood her out and she won the hearts of many viewers. Infact, many still believed the musical crown, given to Yeka Onka, actually was hers. But the Bayelsa-born, University of Lagos undergraduate and talented hair stylist is not looking back. Just recently, she released her single titled ‘Kene Ebe Otu’ (meaning ‘One People’ in Ijaw language). Here, she spoke to Rosemary Okpave on her brand of music which she branded ‘gospel and inpiration’, and her plans for the future among others. EXCERPT:
How has life been after the Nigerian idols?
Life after the Nigerian Idol has been both fun and interesting, and also hectic.
Do you share in the belief in some quarters that you are the actual winner? Are you better than Yeka Onka?
Well, no. I just know it was a competition and someone had to win. Talking about being better than Yeka, I strive everyday to be a master in my own craft as she does too. And this is the real world, it’s no longer the Nigerian Idol tv show. It’s no longer a top-two competition; its now about the whole industry.
What have you been up to ? Any release yet?
Yes, I released a single in sept 2011 which I had to withdraw for some reasons. Now I’m through and I am also wrapping up the video. The song is up for listening and downloads now.
How did you get into music?
Well, music is an in-born thing for me. I was born into a family where music is in the blood. my father, Mr. Mac Ebiama used to be a musician and also played the guitar while my mum, Mrs. Mary Ebiama used to gather and lead us during devotions, and that is always like a concert. My siblings and I having being blessed with the gift too became celebrated singers. Grace Mac who was also a contestant on the Project Fame TV Show is the eldest and started singing at the age of five in our first church in Ajegunle, after which Layefa Mac joined her and then I did too when I was a six-year-old and then we formed a girl group formally known as ‘Star Sisters’, now ‘The Mac Sisters”. We recorded an album in 2004 after which I had the opportunity to go for the Nigerian Idol show, and then my solo career took off fully. Not withstanding, the girls’ group remains.
What is your brand of music?
My brand of music, I like to call it ‘Positive Music’. Any lyrics, any beat and message that will inspire people and heal the world in one way or the other.
Do you think it will be more lucrative if you veer from the gospel to secular music?
Now, every musician has his /her own selling point and market. What works for other might not work for me so I try to find my own unique area.
And I don’t think it will be by the way. And gospel for me is not just the word ‘church’, it is more than that. But church is included in the word itself, ‘gospel’.
Do you plan to do a single with your two other sisters, the ‘Mac Sisters’?
Yes! Not just a single. We have lots on our hands to offer and as soon as we are done putting them together, the world will feel the power of the girls born of same parents, doing exploits!
Besides music, what else do you do?
Besides music I am a student, and I am into styling (hair styling, to be precise). I am studying at the University of Lagos, Akoka.
Talking about your new release, why do you choose to sing in your Ijaw language, and why a song about ‘One People’?
I love this part. The song ‘Kene Ebe Otu’ (‘One People’) was originally written by my dad, Mr. Mac Ebiama a long time ago, even before I was born. Then I got into this music thing and I decided to give something to my country and world at large, after going back and forth, writing different songs. I finally settled for this song with the help of my dad, I was able to rewrite and re-arrange. I took the first verse in my dialect to show the African culture and language. And also to show my pride in it.
I also saw a gap in this area of music. I used to know a few people while growing up like my Big Mama Onyeka Onwenu, and late Christy Essien-Igbokwe with whom I had opportunity to sing while she was alive on the Nigerian Idol show. They all sang songs of peace, discipline and all that, and as time went on, the whole concept started fading out. So it is definitely an avenue to bring to remembrance the good old days in a modern way.
Where do you see yourself in the next 10 years, musically speaking?
I see myself as a role model to both young and old people, a winner of several awards, including the Grammy! (laughter) of course. And above all, I see myself fulfilled, and still fulfilling purpose.
What is your advice to upcoming musicians?
To the upcoming ones like myself, all I can say is as the cliché sounds ‘The person that determines who you will become apart from God is you’. So, believing in You, staying Focused and be Determined, and you will make it through. Guess what? It’s gonna be rough but with God, and your focus, you will get there!