Ure Okezie popularly referred to as “Queen Ure” is a woman of many parts. As a banker, she plied her trade with some of Nigeria’s A-list new generation banks for over a decade before her foray into the Christian ministry as a Pastor, while also involved in Personal and Life coaching activities. In this interview with our correspondents, STEVEN AYA and FRANCIS OGBONNA, the “Porpori” crooner talks about her venture into music; her relationship with her Ex; her love for charity and other issues. Excerpts…
Where did the appellation Queen come from?
“Queen Ure” is my stage name.
Tell us a little more about yourself, particularly before Soul-E?
I was a banker for over a decade. I started with Diamond Bank, from there I moved on to Zenith Bank, from Zenith to Platinum Bank (before it became bank PHB). From there I went on to FINBANK and that was the last commercial bank I worked with. I have a
BSC in Physics from the University of Jos and I equally got my certification in personal and corporate coaching, from the Coaching academy UK, so I am both a personal and corporate coach and now I am an artist…
When you left the banking sector, did you go into business?
Not really! When I left the banking industry, I went straight into music and coaching. I did and still do trainings in core areas like excellent customer service; customer satisfaction and marketing and all of those areas…
When you say music, I know that the only memory some people have of you doing music is your attempt at releasing your first album in 2012, so how long have you really been doing music?
I have been doing music for a very long time, from when I was just a little girl. While I was at the University I did backups for the renowned Gospel music legend Panam Percy Paul and on campus I had a music group (it was a Gospel music group) called the Rubies, but of course when I became a banker I didn’t have time to continue with music. So officially I would say I got into the music industry in 2012, December 2012 precisely, that was when I launched my first album titled “Porpori”. It’s an album of fifteen songs, which came in different varieties, you know? R&B; reggae; highlife; country and gospel as well, it is just a reflection of who I am…
Would you say you are then a gospel or a secular artist?
I am a secular artist…
But you do a little bit of gospel too?
The fact that I am a secular artist does not take away God from my daily life. I mean if I wake up in the morning and I feel overwhelmed with God’s love, I will write a song about God’s love. If I am hurt or someone hurts me, I write a sad love song. Any how I feel, any how the song comes to me I just express myself. I don’t like all those tags. You know? You tag yourself with certain things and by so doing shortchange yourself. I am not a gospel artist…
What was the reception like for your album?
Beautiful! Wonderful! At first when I said I wanted to sing, a lot of people, majorly those who didn’t know my antecedents said “what is wrong with this girl, maybe she just wants attention”. But when they heard the work they asked “why didn’t you start doing this a long time ago?” they have received it very well and just like every other thing when you start, people want to watch and see if you are very serious about it. Now I have settled into the industry…
If you have always sang like you said, why did you wait till 2012 to release an album?
That’s the way life is, it’s one stage after the other…
Has it always been in the plans all along?
T h a t sometime in 2012, you will be releasing you first album?
No, I didn’t fix 2012, but I just knew that the time will come someday t h a t I will create the time and put my work together and push it out to the public…
So you are in this for the long haul?
So even at 80, if God preserves your life you will still be singing?
Definitely! You see that is the beautiful thing about music, you can write songs at any time, even at your death bed you can write a song about heaven…
So why music? Why not say business, most people who leave the banking industry naturally go into business?
Music is just me; it’s not something I make any effort to do. You can wake me up in the middle of the night and ask me to sing and I will sing well. I have always been singing.
You started a church sometime ago, in actual sense you have started two, the first (Da Love Villa) with Soul E (your ex) and the second Christ Villa, what happened to those churches?
We actually changed Da Love Villa to Christ Villa after he (Soul E) left. I Stopped Christ Villa, because I was no more a pastor. I was a pastor for 3 ½ years and the time came when I knew that I had done what was in my heart to do. Actually I was abroad (in the UK for about 5 year) for a long time and left the ministry under some other pastor and you know how it is, if it is not under the pastor, it often doesn’t do well. So they had some issues and couldn’t continue and of course I returned and let it be that way.
So do you have plans of starting another church someday?
No, not at all, I am done with pastoral work.
What did you do in the UK while you were there, was it ministry related?
Not at all! I went on holidays and took a few courses, because each time I am out there, I usually enroll in one course or the other, you know? So as to constantly improve myself. I did that while holidaying.
You have done quite a lot of moving. From the banking sector, you’ve moved to coaching/training; artiste management; ministry and now music as an artist. Would you say Queen Ure is a restless person?
Not at all! I am as calm as still waters. I just do things as they come to me and there is nothing that I am doing now that is new. I don’t just wake up and do things, anything you see me do is something I have been doing quietly and just decided to now blow it up, including music…
You ex just got married and was quoted to haven said some things, some uncomplimentary and some just outright denials of things that really happened in the public glare. One of the things he allegedly said was that you guys were never married and the other that he regretted being with you, how would you respond to these?
Well everyone is free to say whatever is on their mind. If he regretted it, he is free to say he did, but I don’t regret it, the reason I don’t is because I did everything I did, I did from my heart. I supported him and his family financially, I did a whole lot of things for him and I did it from my heart, so I don’t regret doing any of those things. When you do things from your heart, with your whole mind you just let it be and move on. It has come, it’s has gone and I have moved on…
Do you sometime miss him? Not at all! I am so glad things went the way they did? What really attracted you to him?
He was the one that was all over me, saying he loved me and wanted to marry me…even then I asked him “are you sure you know what you are doing?”. Being the kind of person that I am, I just felt that I was not in a relationship then and this guy claims that he loved me, let me just give it a shot. That’s life…
What really happen, why did you guys go your separate ways?
I didn’t leave; he was the one who left. He was the one who went away. When he met me, there was a lot of money, everything was going very well, you know? It’s just the way life is, its likes a situation where you make investments and you don’t get the desired returns. You could get a setback sometimes and in such cases what do you do? You take a walk!
I saw one of you videos, and the title was “I have found love”. Have you found a new love, who has replaced Soul E in your heart?
Well I am so in love with myself right now that I can finally say I have found love. I am really in love with myself right now…
So there is nobody in the picture right now?
No I don’t have a boyfriend…I am not in any relationship right now. I am free and ready to mingle.
So you’ve still got plans to marry?
Love and marriage is still in the picture. Love is what makes the world go round. Even if you are 90, you still want to give and share love, so love will always be in the picture…
So while it lasted, was it good? Do you have a fond memory of that period?
You guys keep asking me about a relationship that ended seven years ago and tend to forget that this is 2014. I have forgotten all about that relationship, of course there was a time that it was nice, but when someone walks away then it is not nice. But it’s ok, it’s come and gone.
Does that mean that you came out of that relationship broke?
Broke as in financially?
Yeah! He walked away when I was broke. But it didn’t take time and everything came back…and I don’t want to talk about whether he wanted to come back or not, that’s not important right now because he is married. So I wish him well! Let’s hope that this time what he has is for real and that he isn’t going to play games.
There was this rumour we had about you already having a child outside of wedlock, how true is it?
No not at all! I have never had any child. I would love to have some though.
You started a Charity initiative, where you use you Fan club ( Queen Ure Fan Club) t o carry out charity efforts e v e r y month, w h a t informed this decision?
Doing Charity is fulfilling, I am really excited and happy about it. It’s so great; it’s good to do things that make you feel good. You know? Invest in projects that will make you feel good and I am going to keep doing it, every month and it won’t just be the same persons that will benefit from this, we would be going to different places. In December we were at the Prisons in Kirikiri; today we are at Little Saints orphanage home, next month we would go somewhere else, hospitals, elderly people’s home, Yaba Psychiatric hospitals; everywhere help is needed. We have plans to just keep reaching out so as to make the world a better place. That’s our way of adding value to our society.
Are we likely going to see this metamorphose into a full-fledged foundation someday?
I don’t think so! It won’t be like a foundation doing a particular thing, for example today we are in an Orphanage, tomorrow we will be somewhere else. We are just going to reach out to as many people we can reach out to so as to affect our world. Definitely the fan club will evolve with time, we will also have some other activities, say sports; picnics, it will be all about fun. But in all of these we will definitely reach out with all of these…
What is your assessment of the Nigerian music industry today?
Beautiful! The Nigerian musical industry has indeed evolved. We have been able to carve out a niche for ourselves.
We have a fusion of the western style of music and our peculiar Nigerian style of music. Definitely this mix is awesome. Though we have a few setbacks here and there, like the content levels being low etc. but like everything in life we are going to keep growing until we reach a point of maturity. We will keep improving…
What was growing up like?
It was a lot of fun! I happened to be the only girl and the last child, so I was really loved. I kind of grew up having everything I wanted…
What were your folk’s reactions when you told them you wanted to do music?
They have always known me as a singer, I have been singing since, even in my father’s 70th birthday party I was the one who was called upon to sing. So it was nothing new to my family. My mum is also a singer, though she did nothing with her music. So it was something they knew me for…
Does any of you siblings sing as well?
None sing professionally…we were all in the choir as kids, but that was how far they went.
So far do you have any regrets doing music?
Not at all! I do not have any regret and I do not think that I will ever have one. Music has always been my number one thing since childhood. Getting into banking was just the normal thing, where you graduate and you are expected to get a good job and all that, but left for me, I would have began singing since I was eight years…
Who were your musical influences while you were growing up?
Michael Jackson obviously! People like Whitney Houston, Maria Carrey, ABBA, Panam Percy Paul and the Chris Okotie’s of those days. You know? All those singers we used to have then, those were the people one used to listen to.
What is your take on the COSON/IBAN & BON brouhaha?
Thank God the suspension has been lifted. It was a good thing, you know? All of the conflicts no matter who brought it up or why the conflict was, it will always produce good. It will result in us having a proper structure on ground. So with time and a proper structure on ground, people would have rights to their intellectual properties. You would get your money, though it will take a while for it to become like what you have in the western world, but we are getting there gradually…
Are you a part of COSON?
Have you been paid any royalties yet?
I haven’t been paid any yet, but I know people who have been paid. I have never really gone there to make any request though, I just registered and I have been doing my thing. I think it is a good course, it is proper for us to have a collecting society. Whether it is one, two or three, they should be good at their job. If at any time we have more than one collecting society, fine! For now we have just one, so I haven’t seen any reason yet not to be involved in what they are doing.
Is music paying you yet?
Yes it is! But not the usual way. However, I have been able to raise a whole lot of funds from my album launch, which of course I continue to do, so I would say that music has paid me. I am someone that thinks outside the box and I believe that your work should put money in your pocket and I would say that music has done that for me.
What has been the greatest platform you have performed on?
I have done a few government functions; corporate functions but the bigger ones are not here yet. My album actually came out in December 2012, so I have barely had just one year in between.
What has been your greatest challenge doing music?
I am just loving it! I am not one that puts herself under pressure; I just do things as they come.
I would say that you are an exceptionally beautiful woman, how have you been managing your male fans?
I am the only girl in my family and I have three older brothers, so I am very comfortable with boys. So I don’t have any problems at all. I am a very nice and friendly person. I don’t drive anybody. After a while you would know that this one is just a very friendly person and you would stop coming on to me.
What would be you advise to upcoming artistes?
It would be to express themselves. If you want to sing you should go ahead and sing. Don’t let anyone stop you from singing! If you know how to sing or if you can write songs, just go ahead and do so. Also some people are always waiting for when they have all the money before they can start a project, if you have one Naira just do the one that one Naira could do, if it is to do a promo copy, do it. You never know how far that demo can take you. If you have a dream, you also have the right to fulfill it, so don’t let anyone make you do otherwise.
Do you still do things with Panam Percy Paul?
Yes! We are still in touch, but not musically.
Any Parting shot?
Yeah! First of all I wish every one of my fans a happy new year and I would like for them to be happy always. That’s my word..