Ahead of her 30th music anniversary which comes up later in the year, your PEN MASTER, after a prolonged search in Ekwuoma, c caught up with seasoned musician, Princess Oby Eluemunor who is also an indigene of Ekwuoma in Ika North East Local Government Area of Delta State. In this interview, the music exponent popularly called “Ika Lady of Songs” by kinsmen and lovers of her music, tells PEN MASTER (EMEKA ESOGBUE) her growing up years; the parental care, the huddles, the loss and the desire; musical career, her desire to collaborate with fellow Anioma kinsmen, Don Jazzy and Wiz Boy and what the future holds for fellow Anioma musicians. Excerpts:
Pen Master: Nice to catch up with you after a very long search that is worth it though. Can our readers meet you?
Eluemunor: (Smiles) Thank you very much Pen Master. Well, my name is Princess Oby Eluemunor. I was born to Mr. and Mrs. Felix and Felicia Eluemunor of Ekwuoma Kingdom in Ika North East Local Government Area of Delta State. I am a professional musician with passion to entertain the people and also give them happiness.
Pen Master: (Smiling) You are welcome beautiful Princess Oby Eluemunor. This prefix, “princess” in your name strikes me with so much affection and attraction. Do you happen to hail from Ekwuoma royal family? You have blue blood?
Eluemunor: Well, I was told that as a Baby, I was strikingly beautiful so it won me “Princess” which has now stuck. I am not from Ekwuoma royal family but a royal clan.
Pen Master: Anyway, how was growing up for Princess Eluemunor at that time?
Eluemunor: (Frowns her face and hisses) Hmm! Growing up for Princess Oby Eluemunor? There is nothing good about my growing up. I grew up as an orphan. I grew up in the wrong hands. So, nothing good in reality to talk about this development.
Pen Master: Okay but anyone can say you are a fulfilled being a female musician. Does this fit you?
Eluemunor: (Laughing) I feel great. I feel honoured. I think if you ask me, I will say that music is the best thing that has ever happened to me in my life. Music has thought me a lot of things. Music has taken me to a lot of places. Music has made me to know a lot of people. Even personalities that people of my age cannot think of meeting, I have met a lot of them. I feel great female a female musician, doing my thing in Anioma.
Pen Master: You also play the guitar musical instrument, something outside the reach of so many male musicians. How did you come about this?
Eluemunor: (Laughing) Eh! I would say that my guitar ability is not really backed professionally. I can only play my musical genre. I can only play my rhythm. In short, I play the “shakara” type. That’s what I can play. I don’t think I can adapt to playing for other musicians or outside my own musical participation. My guitar is tailored to my tune and for my own music.
Pen Master: That’s good to know but in furtherance, our readers may ask to know how music started for you.
Eluemunor: Yea! I started music at the tender age of 7 because my parents were notable musicians during their own time. My Mom was the Lead Vocalist of Otu Obioma of Idumuje-Unor in the 1970s while my Dad was a local percussion player for any Otu Onye Lohe Onwu of Ekwuoma then they had only me as a child. They had only me and wherever they went for show, they took me along with them so I danced and sang with them. When I grew up and enrolled in primary school, any time, there was a festival in school, I always jumped out to sing and I sang perfectly. At home, and in farm, I sang and sang perfectly with my Mom. My Mom would sing and I would back her up. With this, I became perfect. Losing them to the cold hands of death was sad. Well, the only thing that now draws them close to my memory is music. I saw myself singing at school and in churches; everywhere I went until I grew up. At the age of 14, I released my own album which was a great hit then in Sept 24, 1993 during the time of “Osor Abiola”. The song reigned everywhere as I was in wonderment tagged “female musician”, “Okpoho na eti egwu” which took the air. Surprisingly, I didn’t attach so much seriousness to it as I merely concluded it as something one could ordinarily do. However, I didn’t know that one could develop it or make money from it.
Pen Master: Did your parents encourage you or it was the usual “don’t go into music” syndrome of that generation?
Eluemunor: I know that if my parents were to still be alive, they would have given me all the support that I would need. I recall that at the time, my mother always sang for me and asked that I repeat after her. And at that age of 7, I wrote some songs and after writing these songs, I would sing it for my Mom and she would be impressed. My Dad was supportive. He played the drum for me and I would sing and dance as their Baby. I was sure that if they were alive, I would have gone farther than I am today.
Pen Master: Now, Princess Eluemunor, let me ask you this interesting question: Who among the Anioma musicians would you like to collaborate with if you had the opportunity?
Eluemunor: Em! I have looked forward to meeting Don Jazzy for collaboration and for making an album but I have not been opportuned to meet him. Another person I would like to meet is Wiz Boy.
Pen Master: Permit me to pose this to you: Why in your opinion do we seldom see Anioma musicians collaborate to do songs unlike what obtains in other areas?
Eluemunor: Pen Master, the reason is jealousy, envy and feeling inferior complex since they are likely to feel that your fame will surpass theirs. Many would not want others to come up especially those that have the name already. It is not the way God wants it. That’s why traditional musicians in Anioma don’t want to collaborate but I, Princess Oby Eluemunor do want to bring people up. My celebration of 30th years on stage, by the special grace of God, next year (year, 2021) will have groomed those boys and girls that approached me to become musicians. I will record and help them to push. Yes, I will do that.
Pen Master: Perhaps, you have talked too often about your parents. Have your Ekwuoma people supported your musical career in anyway…?
Eluemunor: …Well, Pen Master, I thank God.
Pen Master: Let us move away from music a bit. What can you tell us about your community in terms of government impact?
Eluemunor: (Looking up) Hmm! Government! Government! Well, I really don’t have interest in government. I don’t have interest in politics. I don’t mingle with them. I don’t know what they are doing. The only thing I can say is that this our Governor, His Excellency, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa is really trying in terms of road construction because it affected my own community. He tried for my community. That is all I have to say.
Pen Master: Do you advise other women to play music as well?
Eluemunor: Yes! I have two female musicians in my band that I am bringing up. One is from Ogwashi-Uku while the other is from Umunede. By the grace of God, I will be trying out the Ogwashi-Uku lady on microphone next year. It ought to have been this year but the lockdown scuttled our plans. I started my video but stopped it due to the lockdown. Next year, I will resume with the shooting of the video of my very first album titled “Ajor Nwunye Di”. After that, we will do the promo marketing. After the video, I will put the Ogwashi-Uku lady on microphone to see how she sounds.
Pen master: Princess, where do you see yourself in the next 20 years?
Eluemunor: (Laughing aloud) Wow! Pen Master, but I should have become an old woman. I would be in my husband’s house, retired and taking care of my grandchildren, taking care of husband and resting. Maybe, play small, small show within my community and not going far again.
Pen Master: Does this music also win you uninvited men…?
Eluemunor: …A lot of men; to the extent that I got confused. I got confused at a time because I didn’t know who really loved me, whether it was me, the money or fame they wanted. Music really wins me men but I thank God I have been able to stay in control.
Pen Master: …But how do you manage them?
Eluemunor: Like I said, I was in control; I was in control because I knew what I wanted. I knew the kind of men I wanted and I knew the kind I wanted to live. But you know, there cannot be life without any mistake. I fell a victim then but God has turned all my victimizations to victory.
Pen Master: Finally, I hear you plan to celebrate your 30th Year Anniversary of music career…
Eluemunor: I am working towards the celebration of my years of musical career on stage. I also intend to unveil Princess Oby Music and Dance Academy. I intend to train our people in music, dance and acting. The forms are already out provided you are from Anioma. If you want to learn how to play music, dance or act, come to me and purchase the form. Yes, I have been in the music industry for 30 years.
Pen Master: Princess Oby Eluemunor, nice speaking to you.
Eluemunor: Thank you so much, Pen Master for this great opportunity for my fans to read me. Thank you very much sir.
Princess Oby Eluemunor