The ex-beauty queen and mother of two opens up on her new look, her music and marriage, as well as her latest album, Kweendoncome. She also let us peek into her emotional side and weighed in on the existing feud between her two old friends, D’banj and Don Jazzy.
You have a very different kind of voice and sing different kind of songs. Your collaboration with Pasuma on your first single ‘Oluronbi’ was a boost. Was that part of the plan to quicken your fame with music?
Music is something I have always wanted to do. Everyone says music starts from church, and truly, it did start for me from church. The church gave me some sense of confidence to do what I love to do, which is music. Growing up in church and listening to gospel and everything just made me know that’s what I wanted to do. Singing is almost like you are a message carrier. You are teaching people and they are learning from you. You are touching people’s lives one way or the other, and music has given me the opportunity to do that. It’s been so much fun for me.
What was growing up like for you?
[It was] a very basic life, like every home in Africa. I have six sisters and a brother. I grew up in a place where I was not born. A place called Abeokuta.
Is that the reason for your romance with the Yoruba language, especially since you have infused it into your songs?
Yes, I speak Yoruba fluently, better than my dialect. I grew up there. It’s like my first language, so I do speak it fluently and of course, music is universal, any kind of language can reach people, irrespective of their ethnicity and race.
Would I then be right to say that was why you chose a Yoruba man too?
No. I just found love in a man. People find love in places, they don’t go out and say I want to marry a Yoruba man or an Ibo man. It’s where you find love, and it can be from any state or any colour. Love is the key thing and I found it in a Yoruba man.
Your husband in one word.
An angel. I marvel at his simplicity and gentleness. He’s so supportive and caring. He doesn’t talk negatively about people and he loves everybody. I love him. Our marriage is one that was meant to be. We have been friends for a long time and it just clicked. I love him.
You mention love so much you got me thinking Queen is a very emotional person. Am I right?
I am very emotional. Very very emotional. Things move me. I feel for people, I even feel for myself. When I see things not going the way they should, I get down, I cry. I’m hurt. I see people out there who shouldn’t be suffering and it touches me. It’s human to be emotional.
And would you say being emotional is responsible for your choice of topics and concepts for videos?
Definitely. It is. I look deeper and draw my inspiration from things around me. It takes an emotional person to do that.
You once said in an interview that you ‘jebelise’ men and men don’t jebelise you. Does that make you a heart breaker?
Well, I think I have escaped that now. (laughs) I’m married.
But before you got married, did you jebelise? And how many did you?
If you are not good for me, then go. If you are not true to me, then you might as well get out, because life should be spent with someone you wanna find some peace and some love with. If you are not getting that, why hang around? So in that regards, I jebelise people (laughs)
Talking about heartbreak, it looks as though that’s the trend of things now, especially in Nigerian Entertainment circle. You hear cases of divorce like every other day. How does that make you feel?
Sad. Marriage is supposed to be a thing, an agreement for life. It’s a contract signed before God and should be treated that way, but I won’t say much about other people’s homes, because nobody prays for a broken home, but we also don’t know what they are going through. Is he beating her? Is he cheating on her? So many things cause it.
For you and your husband?
Never! We are going to be together for life. That’s the way it’s supposed to be isn’t it? (laughs).
It’s been over ten years since you started your career and you have only two awards to show for it. Do you think that’s fair or are you being marginalized by organizers of these awards?
They’ve been fair to me; I have to say because at the end of the day, I personally haven’t been that consistent with my music. Most times I fall pregnant in the middle of things and I have to step out. The course of the pregnancy, having the baby, then nursing the baby, and coming back. So I won’t blame the industry for that. Perhaps if that wasn’t the case, I would have done more and gotten more awards to show for it.
Any regrets about that?
No! I have no regrets about my babies and I love them both. They are my bundles of joy.
Who is the father of your first child?
I have only one father for my children.
You look different. What happened to your afro?
I just wanted a new look and a different feel but I still rock my afro any time I have a show or event.
Oluronbi was a video that rocked 2001 and the year after. Was the song and video just a thing of luck?
It was not a thing of luck or just trying. It was well thought and well planned. The song is an old folk song and obviously doing a song like that, one must try and depict it visually in terms of the video. It was not a song I picked randomly to try my luck. I came into music to do what my heart has told me to do and reach people.
Who writes your songs?
All of your songs?
Not all. I could write all of them. There are some that I wrote alone, and others that I co-wrote.
Tell us about your experience abroad.
My experience has been great, it been a mixture of nursing my kids because anytime I’m there that what I do, I go to nurse my kids and all that. Career wise, [something] that was really cool was working with JJC, D’banj and Don Jazzy, Weird MC. We did a number of international shows there. The experience there was fun. I got to do music while I was there and at the same time, spend time with my kids.
How did you all meet each other and become friends?
It was just a case of recommendation. You go to England and you are like ‘where can I produce my song’ and people say JJC is the guy, you go to the studio and you meet other guys and you have this common bond doing music together, so that’s how it was.
And how is it been so far?
I’m still in touch with all of them, D’banj, Don Jazzy, Weird Mc and even JJC is back in the country.
Weird MC wasn’t at your wedding. Why was that?
It was a listening party. I think she wasn’t in town. It had nothing to do with her not wanting to be around.
Your parents weren’t there either.
They were in England.
Not because they didn’t support it?
(shouts) No! That wasn’t! (laughs)
Tell us about your stint with modelling?
I didn’t really do modelling. I just participated in two beauty pageants while I was in the University. I came second for Miss Abuja and won Miss Tourism.
What’s your take on the feud between D’banj and Don Jazzy?
I think it’s just a shame because that was such a perfect marriage. I wished it lasted, but they are both talented guys. D’banj is awesome, Don Jazzy is fantastic too.
Which one is your favourite?
I like them both. I do like them both because they both have been good to me. Don Jazzy produced Jebele, Come with me, you know, they both have been good to me. I love them both.
Who do you think was at fault?
I was away when the whole thing started. I haven’t read the whole story, just heard and read headlines. I don’t know who was at fault. I think nobody was at fault.
Who do you think would suffer most?
I don’t think anybody will. Do you think so?
Tell us about your Abuja experience.
I relocated to Abuja for studies and at some point I ran a little out of cash, so I had to find a job. Anyways, I had to audition for a female singer for a band called Zuma rock band. I was fortunate to get the job and then I started work in Sheraton as a female singer while I was going to school. It was a great experience. It was a long way from home, away from father and mother and all family members, but I followed my heart and chose music.
How did the experiences you gathered while singing at Sheraton help you in your quest to become a super star?
I don’t know about being a super star. I just know about being. It was just another part of my life, a stepping stone it was for me. It taught me to be a live performer, to be confident and shaped my kind of music and how to reach the audience I wanted to play for.
A popular blog named suggested you as one of the top ten sexiest mothers in Nigeria.
Are you serious? I didn’t even know about that. Hugs and kisses. Thanks to my fans.
Do you consider yourself sexy?
Yes, well in the context of wearing what suits me and feel comfortable with myself, I think I’m sexy. Or let me not say so, so you don’t think am proud. I’m not sexy o! (laughs)
What’s happening to KQ?
That’s a plan for the nearest future, I don’t want to go into it right now I have a lot of things on my hands. I’m working on promoting my album.
Let’s talk about fashion for you. You used to be one person easily recognized for her love for Ankara. Is there any reason for that?
I wanted to be different, besides, I love Ankara. I love the African print, it makes you look different and you can do so much with it. For my music, I wanted to create a brand as well, so I put all of that into perception and chose Ankara. If you see me on a red carpet, on the stage or on TV, you’re gonna see me in my (demonstrates) Afrocentrical, did I pronounce that well? (laughs)
After you had released Oluronbi and Jebele, you went on a low and then Muma Gee came up with something that looks like your concept. Do you think she was trying to ride on your fame?
How do you know she’s not like that before? She could have been like that all her life, so I don’t really think Muma Gee was trying to copy me. In a nut shell, if it’s that way you said it, then it’s a positive thing. I was able to launch out a style and somebody loved it. It’s not a problem that people wanna do what you do. There’s Michael Jackson and there are so many people till date who still dress like him, the hair, the glasses, the dance move, the voice, so I think it’s nice.
So you started it and she followed?
I don’t know if she followed. Please don’t make me say that. But its positive, don’t you think so? (laughs)
In one of your interviews, you said something about wanting to be like Asa. Why is that?
I don’t really think that should be a problem. It’s not a problem that I appreciate a younger artiste. I love her choice of songs and the depth. I respect Asa any day.
So we should be looking at the possibility of collaboration with her?
Possibly. If the opportunity presents itself, why not? I would love to.
What is your favourite colour?
I don’t really have a favourite colour.
Water. Water is the best drink for your body. Everything else is some sort of chemical going into your body. I’m not saying I don’t drink all other things, champagne, wine or soft drinks, but water is the best for me.
Favourite hangout spot?
I’d say my house. If am not doing anything work-related, I’m at home.
Your latest album Kweendoncome hasn’t really hit it as expected. What do you think is the cause of that?
That’s the project am on right now. We are making efforts to get it to reach as many as possible.
What are the things you think are not working right in the music industry?
A lot, but most importantly, it’s the piracy. It’s really eating deep and not allowing people who have labored and suffered to write and record songs make gains from their sweat. It’s really terrible.
You’ve been in the music industry for over ten years. What would you say is your most memorable moment?
My awards. The NMVA and the SMVA. They were just the highlight of my career. It made me feel appreciated, it made me feel accepted. It made me feel, you’ve done well Kween, a pat on the back.
And the sad moments?
Not being able to get the job done as effective and efficiently as you expect it to be because there are a lot of issues you face as an artiste.
In the past ten years, what are the changes you have observed?
A lot, a lot, I must say. There is a lot of acceptance and respect for music and musicians nowadays, compared to how it was then. Indigenous companies now support Nigerian music, which I think is great. Also, collaborations with International artistes is another. Before, parents never used to allow their kids try out music or arts, but its changed now. Again, there are more females in the system and am really glad about that as well.
You just mentioned involvements if ladies as one of the changes that you have observed, but the industry still seems to be male-dominated.
That’s another thing. I have no idea as to why it happens but I think it’s the wrong conception that people have, but it has to be different because the girls are doing well. They are churning out good music and why not give them a listening ear too.
Some say the ladies feel that to succeed, they must show cleavage and pop their backsides, do you agree with them?
That’s not necessary, but if they think it works for them, fine. But it’s not necessary.
Would you do that?
Why should I wanna show? Your body is not your music. The music is what’s in there that you wanna voice out. It’s not to say you shouldn’t look presentable or sexy, but sexy shouldn’t be distasteful. It should be pleasant, but when you overdo it…
You led the way for female musicians about ten years ago. Now, the likes of Omawunmi, Tiwa Savage and others have taken over and attention has been diverted. How do you feel about that?
I would not say that, like I said its consistency. If you are away, definitely all these things would come up. That is constant. If you sit back, life will continue, and for me, I had to take out time to be a mum, a wife and that took several years of being away. What do you expect, people gonna wait for me? Not really. I mean, my fans will still be there but it’s okay. When you come back, you should be able to continue and now I’m back, with new material. Besides, we have to know that there is a space for everybody, Tiwa, Omawunmi, Waje and other beautiful talented colleagues of mine cannot serve the whole country. It’s such a huge country, in fact we need more women. I’ve got my own crowd and they’ve got theirs.
Do you think by now, your genre is a little out-dated, considering that the more ‘pop’ sound is currently reigning?
I’m not gonna change who I am as an artiste because of the pressure or the trend. Never. I’ll stick to myself, that’s my originality. That is me. That’s not to say that I might not allow certain kind of collaborations that would better my music, but it’s not like I am going to change because everybody is. I’m not pressured by any reason to do that.
When should your fans expect your next album?
My next album will be dropping like next year, but I’m presently working on promoting the latest one, Kweendoncome.
NET is going to be two in few weeks, any special words for us?
To start with, Ayeni the Great is my very good friend. We call him ‘the Great’ and he has proven to be over time. The newspaper is one that I really cherish and appreciate. I make sure I buy it anytime I can because it’s informative and contains truth. It’s the paper I turn to anytime I wanna read about happenings in the entertainment circle in Nigeria. I can only wish you guys plenty more years and pray that God continues to progress you.