Fast-rising female artiste, Modupe Ore-Oluwa Ola popularly known as Mo’Cheddah, has every reason to rejoice after completing her four-year course at the University of Lagos, Akoka, Yaba, Lagos, where she studied Creative Arts.
The Ko Ma Roll crooner told ENCOMIUM Weekly on Thursday, August 25, 20ll, at the Knighthouse Studio on Simpson Street, Off Adekunle Street, Ebute-Metta, Lagos, the ecstasies and agonies of combining school and career, her next move and much more…
What are you up to, Mo ‘Cheddah?
I have been in school for a long time, in my final year and I have been struggling with music, juggling school with it. It has not been easy at all but I won’t lie, God has been my strength. In my final year I could not jettison my education for music, I had to leave one for the other. I had to stay in school because I had to be a graduate. How would you feel if you heard I dropped out of school in my final year? It won’t make sense. So, I decided to go on a break after I dropped my album so I could concentrate on my academics.
I guess you realized the consequences of sacrificing your final year for your music at this crucial time?
I love education and I have always advised that everybody should go to school in Nigeria, everybody should go to school in Nigeria, everybody needs to go to survive. I studied Creative Arts, I needed to get this knowledge and put it together. My school comes first before my music. I won’t lie to you, I love music. Music is part of me but I wouldn’t have left school because of music.
So, I needed to go to school at that point in time. But my fans have been loyal, they are beautiful people and they are understanding. It’s just me and music now as I am back in full swing.
I believe you are now done with your education?
Yes. I am now a graduate of Creative Arts, University of Lagos.
Before you went back to school, what where you up to?
I had just finished my album before I went back to school. So, I had to take a break. Before you release an album, there should be a video, you go on tour, do photo shoots and shows. So, I was fagged out. I had done my bit for the year and the little break I had did not cost me anything. I am older and wiser now. I had a couple of things to do this year but not as heavy as last year. I work like five times a week now.
Last year, I worked twenty-four seven. Now, I have time for friends and family. I sit and listen to my old album and I check what mistakes I made and correct them.
How would you compare yourself now and your last album?
I think my last album was fantastic. I make timeless music sometimes you have to look back and check where you coming from and where you have gotten to. But my album is good, you haven’t seen the best of me yet.
Which of your songs is your favourite?
I don’t have a favourite song because there is a story behind every song. While I was recording my last album, I was writing my exams and I had a lot going on in-between. Sometimes I slept in the studio and wouldn’t take my bath before going for my exam the next day. It was like I was writing a book.
So, I had to write a song for everybody. In that album there is RnB, rap, pop and I made sure I touched every aspect of music. I want my music to touch the young and old.
When I was about releasing that song, I had to look at life from a broader perspective. That album is all of me. So, I can’t pick out my favourite song.
Can you give us a little insight into what you are working on now?
I am shooting more videos, hopefully outside the country and you would see an older, new and different but still the same old me but with more pep and fearlessness because when you watch my old and new videos you would see the growth in me. Just expect a fantastic work. I now have peace of mind, no longer thinking about school and exams but just music.
Speaking about your fears, what has been your greatest challenge?
My greatest challenge was combining school and music because I hate to fail. And at the same time, I am a role model to many. People are watching me and I have to be myself, stay in my character even when people are not watching. I had to study hard in other to tell the youths that you can be in school and still be hot.
What is your current Grade Point range?
I will say I am on a 3-point something for now.
You have what it takes to bribe your way through school, why didn’t you do that?
First thing first, Omo pastor ni mi. My mum is a pastor and I grew up believing that there’s no impossibility with God. I can do anything through Christ that strengthens me. I can move a mountain. If my God tells me I can do that, what else can’t I do? I am unstoppable. I do not need to bribe my way to get what I want. It has never even crossed my mind to bribe my way through school.
How did you handle your celebrity status in school?
I had to keep being myself. I did not lose my personality. Music makes you become something else. It makes you become what you are not. It makes you think you are someone else. Your life is not yours anymore. But I had a very supportive family. And I am a very strong woman. I had to suck up all my pride and remained myself in school. I am Modupe Ore-Oluwa Ola. 1 would not drop-out of school, that was what I told myself. I walked in the sun to do photocopies, I am a Creative Arts student, I danced bare-foot on stage and I sweated and I didn’t lose my head. I kept telling myself this is who you have to be to get to the next level. This is Dupe. Even my classmates forgot I am Mo’Cheddah. That’s my identification mark in class.
How was your experience as a student?
Most students didn’t like me because I was on TV and radio. My classmates were physically jealous because they know who I was, and they understood my passion. My environment was always hostile to me. But there were moments you just feel too much pressure on you and there is just this weight on your shoulder knowing that there are people staring at you.
Sometimes I feel insecure. People seem to forget that I am also human. As soon as they see me, they just want to spite me because I am on TV and all over the place. That is sheer jealousy.
What are you going to do with your degree in Creative Arts?
I learnt a lot in school-production, acting, dancing and script writing. So, that has been helping me. Every artiste needs these rudiments as a guide. In 10, 20 years, I would dust my certificate and begin something else. You have to understand that I would not be on stage for ever.
I might be behind the stage and to be there, I need my certificate.
Would you hold on to acting as your second option after music?
I love to act. I would act because I want to know how good I would be in that aspect. But it would not be an option.
Have you participated in any movie before?
Not yet. I am still waiting for the right script.
Have you been invited for any role?
I have been invited. But like I said, I am waiting for the right one.
Tell us about your kind of man?
I don’t think I can pin point my kind of man. You can’t tell when to fall in love. I don’t know my particular kind of man. The music, industry has taught me that it is not always how you want it. It could be the other way round.
Can you date a man in the industry?
I can go out with a colleague. Artistes are intelligent minds because what we do is not a joke. We work like crazy people, but we are responsible.
Even when the relationship is getting to marriage?
I wouldn’t date someone I would not marry.
Who is the man in your life presently?
That aspect of my life is very private. I want to keep it very personal.
How would you describe the music industry since you came in?
Technically, we are getting there. Personally, my production here is from the best studio in Africa. We have beautiful producers, mixers. Lyrically I think our environment is welcoming. We give our fans what they want. Nigerians have created their own style. That makes people envy us.
I have seen you performing on stage, you are always energetic, electrifying and full of life. Do you use enhancements that make you go haywire?
My mum has always said, if I don’t know you I would have thought you do cocaine. I am always energetic. I have a lot of energy. But I don’t even take alcohol. You have to be bold to be a performing artiste. You have to kill stage fright.
What has been the reaction of your parents?
My dad is late and my mum has been in full support of my music. My family sees Mo’Cheddah outside me. I am Modupe Ola, They are also my biggest critics.
Tell us more about your family?
I have a brother and three sisters, a niece and a nephew. My dad is late and my family is my biggest support. They are my best friends. My parents brought us up to be outspoken.
How have you been coping as Soulmate ambassador?
It has been beautiful and fun too. Sometimes I have to wear my natural hair to show people I also use Soulmate and we always set examples. And I believe the future of hair products in Nigeria is in the hands of Soulmate. And I am happy to be part of it.
What would you say music has done for you?
Music has done everything. The main reason I came into music was to influence lives and I have started accomplishing that. I love youths and I want to show them that you have to be useful. They should not let anyone force them to be who they are not. I don’t believe in frivolity because you are famous and I don’t believe in exposing my body because of fame.
I don’t like to over plan because you might die today or tomorrow. But I can win a Grammy today or tomorrow, no one can tell. But I am the youngest Nigerian to win a Channel O Award and I am also the youngest to win a MAMA Award. This is a pointer to the fact that anything can happen at any time. I know my God, I know my music and I know my onions. And I hope by 2015, I would win a Grammy .
-YEMI OLANREWAJU and RASHEED ABUBAKAR
Tuesday, August 23, 2011