Exclusive Interview with African Composer
Nigerian Composer Oluchi Edmund was one of the female composers selected to perform at the First Crossing Borders Music “Women Composers Around the World” event in Chicago, USA. African Composers contacted her afterwards to chat about her music, her passion, her recent experience at the International Crossing Borders event and her hopes for aspiring composers.
(African Composers = AC; Oluchi Edmund = OE)
AC: Who is Oluchi Edmund? Introduce us to her!
OE: Oluchi Edmund is a gospel musician and composer from the Eastern part of Nigeria.
AC: Where did your original love for music come from? Was it an event, from an experience? What inspires you?
OE: I inherited music from my father. Oh…my love for music is just natural. It’s from my father. Though he never made an album, but he was a very good singer. The word of God inspires me so much. My late father, Mr. Edmund Jim, inspired me as well. I lost him quite early in life but, prior to then, he encouraged me to sing and advised me on how to conduct myself as a female professional musician. We always sang together at home and I was dreaming that someday, I was gonna sing with him professionally.
AC: Did you study music, music writing, composition? Where did you study?
OE: I didn’t study music, but I will very soon. I studied Industrial Chemistry. My father registered me in Imo State University to study Industrial Chemistry. I actually went to a science secondary school (Etiti) but I’d always known that I'll be a singer plus whatever… Music has been the primary thing for me but I’ve not been opportune to study it in school. I’ve sacrificed a lot for music: relationships, comfort, luxury, jobs etc. and I’m not giving up.
AC: How will you describe your style of music?
OE: My style: Simply put, I am a contemporary gospel African musician.
AC: You recently performed at the First Crossing Borders Music “Women Composers Around the World” event in Chicago, USA. You performed on the 25th and 29th of March 2018. Tell us how it felt to perform at this event? What was the experience like?
OE: Performing with Crossing Borders: It was just awesome! First, that was my US debut. And performing with only white musicians was just ecstatic. We just had a few rehearsals and we were just flowing. Wow…I saw the difference between working with professional musicians and just musicians. Besides, those guys in Crossing Borders are exceptionally good and hospitable too. When the white crowd cheered me after each performance, I’ld just say to myself, “Though I have not yet arrived, but I sure am on the right track”.
AC: You have served, whether intentionally or not, as an ambassador for your country, Nigeria. Was this overwhelming for you?
OE: It wasn’t overwhelming at all for me to serve as an ambassador for Nigeria. I’ve always lived my life as an ambassador for Christ so, living with ‘Caution’ has been my watchword and always bearing in mind that much is expected of me and should never fall short of expectations.
AC: Some people have particular ‘ideas’ and ‘expectations’ of what “African music” is and what it should sound like: do you feel any pressure to produce a particular type or style of music as an African Composer? Are you aware of any expectations on you as an African composer and, do these inform or, perhaps, constrain what type of music you write in any way?
OE: Yea… I’m aware that people expect African songs to have heavy bass voices, full of drums and quite participatory but, hey…Music is an art and is evolutionary. Let it flow just as it comes. Just like the say that the world is becoming a global village, music has become a hybrid of cultures. We now mix African sounds with Western and all that. So, I actually have no constraints. I just deliver as I receive.
AC: What can we expect to see next from Oluchi Edmund over the next few months, are there any projects in the pipeline?
OE: I’m doing a new album. In a few months, it’s gonna be ready.
AC: What is the best way to encourage composers from a country that had a history of parents/guardians who were more inclined to have encourage their children to choose careers from STEM subject areas – Science, Technology. Engineering, Mathematics - as well as other subject areas like Law? Also, these pressures are known to have posed a challenge to some aspiring composers, some of whom have had to delay their dreams of writing music to satisfy their parents’ or family expectations. Some have even given up completely on these dreams. This is all rapidly changing however, you grew up in a period when this was still strongly the case: was this a barrier for you?
OE: The best way to encourage composers who are pressurized from family and friends like I was, is just to be a role model to them. Encourage them to live their dreams, believe in God, believe in themselves. The lives they have are theirs and nobody should hang his or her plans over them.
AC: Do you have any message for aspiring composers who are trying to achieve their own dreams?
OE: My advise for aspiring composers is, believe in God, believe in yourself, when any opportunity shows up, set your best foot out. Thank you!