Joy Odiete, better known as J’odie, was massive with her hit single ‘Kuchi Kuchi’ in 2010. She left the music scene for a while to focus on her family and other things. The Delta-State born singer cum special needs children activist talks about her experience in this interview with Kangmwa Gofwen. Excerpts:
YOU were seen on Instagram belting out some of the evergreen songs. Are you back fully?
Actually I spent a lot of time talking about the course but obviously I don’t want the fans to forget that I am still a musician. I actually love a lot of oldies songs so I was just sharing a part of me that I love. I want my fans to know that I am still a musician and not just an activist because there are other parts to me and also for people who like such music and would want me in events like that.
Talking about oldies, are you of the opinion that the present Nigerian music lack such qualities that oldies have?
Nigerian music has improved greatly. It is way better than before in terms of quality and sound. You can’t compare, it’s not about quality now it’s about nostalgia, when you hear certain songs from way back it takes you back somewhere. It’s about taking you back to where you want to be for a moment maybe your first love or first kiss. You know there are some things that a new song cannot give you, memories that have been interwoven in that old song.
Do you do repertoire?
Yes, for a period of time I was in a band so I did quite a number of songs and I didn’t even know that doing old school songs were a big deal because I realized that when they give certain people old school songs they say they can’t do it because it’s too hard. So I said if people avoid it maybe this is something special and valuable.
Do you think your absence from the music scene may have impacted your career?
Yes, because I paid a lot of attention to a course. Some comments are like “oh we need you back in music, we can’t wait to have you back” and so on, but I never left. For those who think I have stopped singing, I am still in the business of making music and I don’t think I will ever stop singing.
You have one of the most powerful songs of all time from Nigeria, ‘KuchiKuchi’. Take us back to the inspiration of that song?
That song is 12 years now. I did it when I didn’t even know what it meant to be a mother. At that time, because I am a very emotional person, my producer Phat E was like “you’ve been doing different songs but none about love, I want you to do something about love”. At the time, I had a terrible year so I was avoiding anything to sing about love. He then made a beat for me and I took it home but I couldn’t write anything on it because I was looking at love from only romance. One day, I woke up around 2 am and said, “love doesn’t have to be about only romance”, so I changed my perspective to see love from a different angle. I asked, what would I say to my child if I were a mother? So, that’s how I was able to put together those lyrics. I never knew the power of that song until people started sending me messages from different countries.
You did a remix to ‘Kuchi Kuchi’, why?
I did it because of my movement ‘Special Mothers’. I was actually working on ‘Special Mothers’ song which is yet to be released. I just decided to take advantage of it because I did a challenge for special mothers (that is mothers that have children with special needs). I wanted them to come out because an average special mother doesn’t like showing their child because of the stigma attached to it and I understand. Some people will say, “Your child is a witch”. So, I wanted them to stop being ashamed and also if you need help you cannot hide. Apart from the challenge, I made friends because sometimes even the people who love you but don’t have that kind of child can’t really understand where you are coming from.
A friend has even told me before that, “are you the only one that has a special child?” Because he doesn’t understand. Then, I was hurting a lot so I couldn’t feel anything but pain around me. At that time, I wasn’t a very good company. I made friends who understand me because we have similar experiences so it’s easier for us to find solutions quicker. It’s a journey because my son is just six years.
Considering what you have been going through due to your son’s condition, are there fears of having another child?
Yes, I won’t lie I was scared. I’m not married first of all but I know that doesn’t stop you from having a child.
ALSO READ FROM NIGERIAN TRIBUNE
Are you scared that if you have another child there might be a reoccurrence of the situation?
No, that is not my fear because my first experience of having a child was not an easy one due to complications, surgery, and the child not crying for about nine hours and so on. After childbirth, I was left alone to take care of the child. So, my first experience wasn’t easy but that doesn’t mean if an opportunity comes in a more supportive circle I wouldn’t like to give it a try. Raising a child shouldn’t be what one person would do.
Tell us your experience having a child with special needs?
Having a special needs child can have many complications but it’s not like you made it happen. Now, I am more aware and there are certain tests you can do to verify and follow up. Not that I didn’t do antenatal care then but there are some things that I would not take chances anymore. I will be much more intentional about where I will give birth because that hospital where I gave birth did not help, they didn’t even have enough oxygen to give my son. Apart from that, I almost died.
But you were already in limelight when you got pregnant so one would expect that you had access to good health facilities…
Yes but I didn’t know that hospital… I don’t want to think about it. I just didn’t know that hospital wasn’t good enough. Maybe should have asked more questions about the hospital. I don’t want to think about things I don’t want to remember. Okay, the thing is I would like to have another child but my pregnancy process wasn’t an easy one so I don’t know if I have the physical strength to do it.