Evi-Edna Ogholi; from a church singer to Nigeria’s ‘Queen of Reggae’

Mohammed Awal Mar 27, 2020 at 05:00pm

March 27, 2020 at 05:00 pm | Women, Women of Value

Mohammed Awal

Mohammed Awal

March 27, 2020 at 05:00 pm | Women, Women of Value

Image: The Guardian

Evi-Edna Ogholi is a Nigerian reggae colossus. She emerged as a reggae superstar in the 1980s during the golden age of the genre in the West African country. Strong, powerful and talented, Ogholi was simply prolific as any of her contemporaries, breaking onto the Nigerian reggae scene dominated by males.

Born on July 6, 1965, Ogholi started out singing in a church choir. An Isoko native, she would leave her hometown to pursue a career in music after completing secondary school (high school). She was 20 and three years later, Ogholi invaded the Nigerian music industry with a smash hit titled—Happy Birthday.

“It was one of those ubiquitous songs that you knew the lyrics from top to bottom without making a conscious effort to memorize,” was how this writer, Ayomide O. Tayo described the song.

Ogholi released her debut album My Kind of Music in 1987 – an album that boldly cemented her place as Nigeria’s first real female reggae artiste. Subsequently, she released three more albums: On The Move, Happy Birthday and Step by Step. The albums were very popular with each going platinum (over one million copies sold) and she even toured the West African region, dazzling audiences with her performances in 1989. 

Credited as Nigeria’s first female reggae musician and “Queen of Reggae”, Ogholi’s blossoming career was threatened by her violent marriage with her husband, Emma Ogosi. He was her manager and producer before becoming her husband.

The Guardian reported Ogholi fled Nigeria as a result of her acrimoniously violent marriage. “I traveled out of Nigeria because of my ex-husband (Emma Ogosi). He is very violent. Emma Ogosi turned me to his punching bag, while I was married to him,” she recalled.

Forging ahead with her life in France, where she has found a new home, Ogholi in March 2017 released an album titled ‘Peace and Love‘. And the follow up Peace in the World was released in 2018.

“There is no place like home; home, sweet home. When I go south, west, east and north, I will always come back home, to Nigeria! My family is solidly behind me like a rock. I have my family’s moral support. God bless my family,” she told The Guardian.

Ogholi also told The Guardian apart from her love for the reggae genre she has developed affection for Jazz as well, thus infusing it in her new works. “My love in a jazzy place – is simply Jazz. Meaning, I am singing JAZZ, for the first time.”

Songs in Ogholi’s album include ‘Peace and love’ (reggae), ‘Urehe’ (It’s not over until it is over – reggae/jazz), ‘Nobody can please the world’ (reggae), ‘Africa’ (world music) and ‘My love in a jazzy place’ (jazz).

Ogholi performed in many African countries since she left Nigeria. She performed in The Gambia, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia She also does voluntary work for the United Nations Children’s Educational Fund (UNICEF). 

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