by Wilfred Okiche
Jodie was a top 10 finalist at the first and only Idol West Africa where Timi Dakolo emerged champion. She has since released her debut album ‘African woman’ which sawned hits like ‘Kuchi kuchi’ and ‘Under the mango tree’. She shared a few moments of her time with us, speaking about her album, her love for natural hair and why she remains mostly about the music only.
Enjoy excerpts from our conversation.
You have this single and video titled ‘African woman’. It is also your album title. Do you consider yourself the definition of the African woman?
African woman is me celebrating what I understand the African woman to be. It is a song of celebration and I am one of them and that is what I am celebrating. If you listen to the music ‘African woman’, there is a line that goes, where you get that kinky hair?but it goes beyond the hair, you just pick some attributes of what you are describing so the song was just celebrating the strength, hard work of the African woman. It goes beyond encouragement. It is a song of praise really. I saw this movie, Tyle Perry’s ‘For colored girls’ and there is a line that brought me to tears when the woman says in between crying and laughing “I am black. And a woman’’. That was so powerful, meaning that you are 2 things that are wrong, at the same time. Even when we do not admit it, it means that the world sees female species as disadvantaged. Then when you are black, it is a double blow. So I decided to praise African women because they have managed to achieved a lot even amidst these disadvantages.
Did you read Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah?
I read a part of it and I was so glad when she talked about the natural hair.
Why do you choose to go natural? Branding maybe?
It is not a brand thing but a soul searching decision I took in my second year in the university. I asked myself some questions, do I have to perm my hair to be considered pretty? Does God hate me so much that he has to give me hair that people call bad? Or is it that he gave me this wonderful gift but I don’t know how to take care of it? I wanted to find out these things for myself so I cut my perm and started the journey. It wasn’t easy at first and at the time I started there were not so many people who carried their natural hair except maybe for a certain set of christians and they were not doing it with style. They were not doing it because they wanted to, but because it was some kind of law but I was doing it for me. I wanted to see the beauty in it. I didn’t know what products to use at first, even during Idol West Africa, I was on natural hair but people did not notice because they would give us these wigs and weave ons to wear. I then went on Jheri curls before coming back natural. At that point it wasn’t a struggle anymore and I started finding products and learning what to do. People now think of it as a brand thing and have identified me with my natural hair but that is just a good co-incidence.
There is this antagonism between ladies who go natural and those who rock weaves or wear perms. Is this the case for you?
I do not look down on people who carry perms but I just wonder why they cannot experience the joy that I do. I am more like you guys do not know what you are missing. You know you want them to experience the same joy that you are having. Natural hair rocks and I don’t know why the antagonism. Maybe those on natural hair aren’t passing their message across properly. And maybe those on perms wish deep down that they could go natural but have not summoned enough courage, who knows?
But why so much about hair?
Hair for me is a big deal. It stands for something. It is not just about the hair because the hair does not make me. It was just me asking myself questions, searching for my identity. If you ask me, I think we all have a choice. Perm, natural hair whichever.
Why do we not see more of you out there?
It is partly technical but just know that I am working towards coming out more, not just because I want to. The reasons I have chosen to sing aren’t necessarily conventional reasons. it is a form of expression for me, to connect with my audience. Now this may sound noble to you but they are my genuine reasons for doing music. The airwaves are dominated with songs that people complain are not so musical or creative but there is this big demand for it. For now I’ll say that I will do what I can to come out more and let the world hear my kind of songs. At the end of the day it doesn’t even matter if I strive or not because if something were to happen to me today, I know my songs will outlive me.
You are one of those artistes whose songs are better recognised than they are, does this worry you?
People make it bother me, infact it was when I got on the job that I realised this one. Before I started, I just wanted to sing. All these things for me, and mind you, they may be a wrong mindset are not existent. I just wanted to sing and have fun while doing so. So please bear with me I am still getting used to the job. I am not saying it is bad to be popular, honestly I now see the role it plays in the business and I am glad to be understanding that role for myself and thankful that I did not get lost before I did. If I get that power, it is going to be used well.
So it is better and wiser to come into this realisation on your own rather than being thrust into it the way labels would prefer to?
There is no one approach to these things. If you are under a label, there might be series of reasons why they push their artistes out. I look at it like an employer-worker relationship. It is very good for the worker to understand the goals of whoever is employing him so you run with it well. It is important for artistes to understand the whys of certain things but I believe that as a singer, being popular gives you a modicum of power and influence over certain people. Some people may find themselves popular for whatever reasons and they do not know the ripple effects. But it is important to understand the power you have and why. It took me a while to understand this.
I was going through your Twitter feed and I noticed you have thousands of followers but you follow like 5 people. How does this come about?
Dearest fans and friends please grant me a few self indulgences. It is one of those things that I may not explain just permit me.
There was also this accusation that you copied the song ‘Kuchi kuchi’
Those people claiming so, where were they when ‘Kuchi Kuchi’ came out 3 years ago. I saw the tweet I didn’t even answer because sometimes people do these things to get into the limelight. Because the song is just now spreading to some other countries, they think it is a new song. Maybe they think it is a new song, who knows? After all these years, all I know is ‘Kuchi kuchi’ is an original song which I wrote, registered at the copyright commission. Some people have even refused to accept that it is a Nigerian song.
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