Fire, passion and magic.
Sharp, solid beats. Hot tunes. Inspired rap rhymes, skillfully presented, get the pulse racing.
A female voice that clearly knows where to go: intense and forceful when needed yet capable of pouring all her fire and passion into a soulful ballad. This voice is Chioma’s, lusciously fascinating with a touch of refined exoticism.
Chioma is Nigerian, from the ethnos of the Ibo. She was born in Sokoto, in the Islamic dominated North of the country. When Chioma is still a child, her catholic family flees to Abuja, the Capitol of Nigeria. Abuja is a city where the music is as much alive in the streets as in the radio. Chioma sings in a church choir. “I used to sing in mass every Sunday”, she remembers. “Anyone who ever heard me sing, came up to me and told me that I’d be sure to become a singer one day. That spurned my enthusiasm, naturally.”
Maybe she already felt at the time that there was an artist, an entertainer, a rapper, slumbering deep inside of her.
She is still young when she produces her first record. “Yes, that’s true”, Chioma laughs, “In 2005 I recorded an EP for the missionary sisters of the nunnery that my parents frequented for mass.” This is also a time when Nigeria’s music is gaining international popularity once again. Femi Kuti continues the musical heritage of his father Fela Kuti’s afrorock. For Chioma’s mother, however, this kind of music is coming from the streets and therefore presents something useless. Chioma is not allowed to sing at home. Visits from school friends are not exactly frequent in the Akuezue house. For Chioma it is all about staying at home, reading books and doing homework, then off to bed. “I had no one to talk to about my emotions. There was only a book which I used to fill with poetic lines that would later provide the lyrics for my songs.” Chioma was supposed to become a nun, but then leaves Nigeria and her family and heads to Lagos. With the little book as her companion, of course.
Luck on her side.
Lagos is the wildly beating, Nigerian (and perhaps even African) heart of music, fashion, dance, acting, the entertainment industry and art in general. “Having arrived in Lagos, I neither had enough money nor a place to live with my daughter. But God is always on my side. And it seems that luck is, too”, Chioma understands. “I found a modeling job. Survival with a baby provided a continuous struggle, but to the outside I communicated strength and certainly not a girl that needed help in any way.” Chioma’s life is a continuous up and down, and a medium for a new story, for another entry in the little book. Each entry is proof for Chioma’s courage to face the changes of life and of expressing these changes creatively. The next change is imminent. Chioma moves into “the Koko mansion” – a reality show along the lines of Big Brother, hosted by Nigerian singer/songwriter D’banj. Here, she sings her songs day by day and whilst she doesn’t win the show, she is being awarded a cash prize. Eventually everyone talks about the beautiful singer from “Koko mansion.” When would be the time to produce my songs, if not now. Everybody was talking about me and I finally had some money.” Chioma looks back, “I even found two producers. At some point I had three songs and a video, but I had no clue about the music industry. Everyone I met wanted my money, not proving anything in the end.” With her money nearly gone, Chioma, frustrated, gives up, turning once again to bread-and-butter-jobs. She works for companies such as Lufthansa and the German-Nigerian chamber of commerce. In the meantime, Chioma’s little book is filling up.
The conscious, the unconscious and the magical.
Then, suddenly, things really take off for Chioma when she meets a German diplomat, marries him and follows him to Germany. “Here in Berlin, I went to German language School. During breaks, I sang all the time, I had to do it, it’s in my blood. I was pressured from all sides to produce another album.” But her memories of Lagos and her experiences with the music business keep her from taking action. At first, anyway. When, someone tells her at a party “your singing reaches into people’s hearts and gives everybody goose bumps”, Chioma finally gives in and says why not? She hits on the archive in her little book. The writings that emerged from life’s scar tissue are as relevant as ever. New memories are being made, too. “Before I entered the studio I made a decision that was very important for me”, Chioma states with a stern expression. “ Apart from a little technical help I will do everything on my own, without compromises.” Chioma has a broad musical range. She effortlessly knows how to tailor a reggae-dancehall dress for her lyrics, or clothe them completely in Rap. She knows her style even when it comes to ballads. “I realized fairly quickly that I was able to explore any sound cosmos and there is always one strong connection between all my notes: my voice”, she says. “whether an idea turns into a Rap song or a ballad certainly has a conscious element. The bigger element, however, is the unconscious one. And then there is the magic in every song. Something that should not be analysed, or it will vanish immediately.”
The ten currently present songs show how easily Chioma combines Independent Romance with chilled Clubmusic. With each album Chioma creates little, trenchant pictures just like big, powerful narratives filled with real life – she explicitly shows what she stands for, who she is and that she has something to say. Her unique timbre adds an emotional force to the game, capturing everyone’s attention with no room for escape.