The Words of Emem, a Nigerian UK-Based Songster

Emem Archibong was born and raised in southern Nigeria until she turned eleven in 1995 and moved with her family to Bradford, United Kingdoms. Raised in a family where music was almost written on a stone, Emem only had to nurture her own version of the trade and now she is getting the reward from her choice. The following are what she relates of herself, beginning from her eight year’s musical career, from Nigeria to the UK.

What actually motivated you into music?

My earliest musical drive began when I was in the secondary school (music class) at the age of twelve. One day I was asked to sing; then I realized that everybody in the class was amazed at my voice.

The music teacher later organized a show where I sang for the whole school. I also remember when I was eight years old, back then in Nigeria – as part of the children’s choir I was chosen to sing treble. I remember wanting to sing soprano because I could sing both.

After the show which was organized by our school teacher I understood that I could get somewhere in music. I started writing songs at about this time. I remember my dad advising me that my first few songs may not be perfect but if I kept writing I will write amazing songs. Singing was the first musical talent I developed and then the songwriting.

I later learned how to play keyboard.

How would you recount your musical journey so far and what exactly are you aiming at?

It has been pretty great. At the age of eight, I was in a children’s choir in Nigeria. At eleventh, I joined a choir at “Abundant Life Church, Bradford” at which time I started singing solo at events organized by the church.

At the age of twelve I had developed a keen interest in music and I started writing songs. I was a big fan of Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston.

At fifteen years old I formed a girl group called “Vision”. I was a lead singer and also one of the songwriters for the group. We sang both in the events organized by the church and those in Bradford, including a summer festival hosting over 1000 people.

At the age of sixteen when I started university, (studying pharmacy), I was also singing at various events in Bradford. At several occasions, I sang for a large audience at the Alhambra theatre.

In 2005, I entered a competition in Birmingham where I represented the University of Bradford. Out of 100s of demo CDs, mine stood out and I was shortlisted to sing live at the event, and I came out at the 5th position.

In 2007, I formed a band consisting of four musicians, three backing singers and me as the lead singer. I funded the project with my own money and we played at various Christian events, including a Christian event held at the hippodrome in London in the summer of 2008. At about the same time, I entered a competition called “Britain’s next urban superstar” and I was shortlisted as a finalist. My audition was aired at Flava music channel on sky.

In 2009, I finished my pharmacy degree and I planned to use my income as a pharmacist to fund the release of my first album. Now, the album is completed and I have few songs already downloaded for pre-marketing. As to what I’m aiming at, I want to become established as a gospel artist who writes and sings about the issues of life from a godly perspective.

Do you have a mentor?

Her name is Chan. she’s a Manchester based singer-songwriter. I also look up to Cece Winans and Yolanda Adams.

You tiled your new debut: “WHAT IS LOVE?” What do you exactly want to tell your audience by this title?

It means God is love and Love is selfless.

If any, who are the special audience for your music?

The Neo-soul listeners, Christians and the Afro-Caribbean.

Is there anything in your music that connects you to Nigeria or Africa in general?

In Africa music makes a statement whether political or religious. My music does exactly that.

In a little but detail, what do you want to tell your audience about your new debut?

In this album, I set out to encourage my listeners: “Trying to be myself” is meant to encourage the listeners in being the best people God have called them to be. The soulful “untold story” describes the love one finds when he encounters the creator. “Angel” is based on a true story that invokes thought on the undeniable question of why people die. It is based on a true life story of my friend who died during our university days.

The title track “what is love” is based on a popular bible chapter I Corinthians 13; it ends up emphasizing the point that God is love. “Not too late” reminds us that it is not too late to go for your dreams, no matter how long it has been in your heart. “Black and white” as the name implies describes the journey to equality between the races and the sexes and invites us to keep living together as one, despite our differences.

“Living together as one…” Thank you very much for your time.


Ewanfoh Obehi Peter

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