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Saturday

Benita Okojie talks being married, how much she misses her late dad and more

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I am from Edo State and I grew up in a loving family. I didn’t know that I was going to become a professional musician. My mum used to sing a lot and I loved to sound like her. In fact, she was my first motivation for doing music. There was a day she was supposed to sing in church but she lost her voice. Because of that,  I had to stand in for her. Our pastor heard me sing and he advised me to do something with my voice because it sounded beautiful. That’s when my dad decided that he would work with me and take it to the next level.

Education
I had my elementary education at Starfield Nursery and Primary School. For my post-elementary education, I attended Cayley College. I studied English Language at Redeemers University.
Stardom
I don’t feel like I became famous too early.  If I didn’t start singing when I did, I may never have taken singing as a profession. I had a bit of preferential treatment when I was in school; there were times that I had to go for shows and the authorities were understanding. Sometimes, classes and tests were rescheduled for me. My experience also taught me that when I have my own kids, I need to encourage them to go after their dreams at an early age.
Transition
I don’t agree that I wasn’t able to transform from a child star to an adult one. I took a break at a point because when I got into the university, a lot of things changed. I went to a private school and their curriculum was different from what I was accustomed to. I decided to focus on my education and give it all my time.
Music
I’m a gospel artiste and I’m working on gospel songs, which is what I will be putting out there. As a gospel artiste, there are lots of messages that I can share through my music.
Father’s influence
My late dad was my manager and he was the one who discovered and nurtured my talent. He had worked with great musicians such as Onyeka Onwenu, Felix Libarty, Chris Okotie and Sunny Okosuns, among others. It is definitely not an easy thing to lose someone who believed so much in my gift and ministry. I cannot tell you that I’m fine now but I’m glad that he managed me. He had such a strong impact in my life that I would never forget. I will continue to sing gospel music because it is something my dad was very passionate about. A song like Osemudiamen, which remains my biggest, was co-produced, marketed and distributed by him. He did all the legwork and he did not rest until the single became popular. I will also miss the plans and strategies he always had for every song that I released. More importantly, I miss a father who believed in all his children and nurtured them to greatness. Before he died, he made sure that all his offsprings were settled in their respective careers. I’m working with a new management now but I don’t know if anyone would be able to fill his shoes.
Role models
Vocally, I admired Whitney Houston because of the powerful way she sang. I also love Cece Winnans, Marvin Sapp, Tasha Cobbs, Jekalyn Carr, and a host of others. I appreciate diversity in music.
Challenges
A lot of people still see me as a kid singer. Though it is cute and sweet, I wonder why some people cannot see me as a woman now. Another challenge is that gospel artistes don’t get as much support as secular ones. It could be discouraging at times. We need more people to support gospel music because of the life-changing messages that we preach.
Marriage
Marriage has been beautiful and I thank God for that. I am especially thankful that my dad was alive to walk me down the aisle and give his blessings. I also thank God for the man He has blessed me with and we’re both learning every step of our marital journey. Most importantly, we have God as our foundation and it helps us to be more committed to each other; it couldn’t be more beautiful. My husband is a media entrepreneur.
Memorable experiences
One of my most memorable experiences was when I was invited to the Presidential Villa to sing at Nigeria’s 40th independence anniversary at Aso Rock in Abuja. I was invited by a former first lady, Stella Obasanjo. I was also very excited to perform at FIFA Under-21 World Cup (Nigeria 99). I was thrilled to sing before thousands of people at an international event and I’ve never forgotten that experience. Being the face of Caprisonne was also a big deal for me and it afforded me the opportunity to travel a lot outside the country. There are also times that I would go to buy things and the seller would give me for free because they are glad to meet me. These and some other experiences are memories that I will always cherish.
Relaxation
I listen to music a lot and I play the keyboard. I also visit cinemas with my husband. I hang out a lot with my siblings and I love to travel.
Fashion
I like outfits that are decent, simple, classy, comfortable, and not over-the- top.
Source: Punch

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