Why have you decided to release a double album?
The idea of a double album came as a matter of showing to the world the two very good sides of me. I want people to see that deep spiritual person, who also loves to sing and dance. I am showing people the part that loves to dance in the first part of the album, titled Beautiful, and the spiritual side in Chorus Leader. It is known that without a strong spiritual life, you will find it very hard to cope in the physical. I am just being expressive with my talent. As Kefee, I don’t want to be seen as copying what other people are doing. I have to be creative. My burden is to continue to inspire people with my songs and when I get positive comments from people on my works, they encourage me to do more. That’s what really inspired the double album, which I titled The Best of Both Worlds. And more importantly, by October, it will be ten years that I officially came onto the scene with the release of my debut album. And I need to make a statement, which I believe this double album is capable of achieving.
What would you say has helped you stay relevant in an industry where most people seem to now prefer hip-hop music?
I will say it is the grace of God that has sustained me in this industry. Most people know me as a gospel artiste, but I also do a bit of hip-hop. I try to work with a lot of talented people and that has kept me relevant. I like experimenting with music; I love hip-hop and a I am a big fan of that genre. I love rap, too, and I draw a lot of inspiration from some rap greats. I try to do anything that music allows me to do and I don’t just dwell on waxing traditional songs, which have come to be my trademark on the music scene.
As a gospel artiste, how comfortable are you working with secular artistes?
For me, music is an art. And art, for me, is everything. That is why I chose to separate my new album because I follow the inspiration as it comes. As a Christian, there is no way I can be in the spirit praising God and be doing that Malio Malio song with Ghana’s Becca. I need the synergy with the so-called secular artistes. I love Duncan Mighty’s production and I chose to work with him. LKT is a fantastic and creative person. As a Christian, I prayed and worshiped God in spirit and here I am chatting and gisting with you and it has nothing to do with the spirit. I don’t believe that because you are a gospel artiste, you cannot work with others. Afterall, you have other Christians, including pastors, who work and relate with people outside the church. I know that if you don’t feed your spiritual life, it will die. For me, once I get inspired, I deliver the songs. It doesn’t matter whether you are a gospel or secular musician. I have many great songs out there, especially the love song I did with Sound Sultan. What matters is the message and the most important aspect is for the music to be good. I don’t have the right to judge people or classify their music as secular as long as the message is good and inspiring.
Another interesting aspect of your life now is your restaurant. Is it borne out of survival or a passion for food?
Cooking has always been something that interests me. It is a passion that I developed while watching my mum cook. I learnt a lot of cooking skills from her. While growing up, I always stayed with her in the kitchen and monitor how she mixed all those ingredients and whenever she was through with those meals, I used to enjoy them. This has somewhat inspired my passion for cooking. I never really thought of making money off that skill, but putting that skill into practice while am on my own actually laid the foundation for this business, which is called Branama Kitchen.
At what time did you decide to make it a business?
I have always been a kind of person who wouldn’t cook for herself alone. I enjoyed cooking for three or for a larger number of people. Most of my friends are aware of this side of me and some will call to find out if I am home so they could come and eat my banga soup. Many of them normally come to my home to have different meals at different times. It got to a point that each time any of my friends was getting married, I always handled the catering part. And from the responses I got from them, I felt I could make something commercial out of it. I decided to get a restaurant where I could further display my cooking skills and get paid for it. In 2005, I remember I just released Branama2, I decided to search for a very suitable place. I shopped around, especially on Allen Avenue and Bank Anthony Way, which were my preferred locations. But I couldn’t get one until 2011 when I finally got this place in Maryland. And God has been so faithful, as the business has been so good.
What actually does your brand name, Branama Afrique, stand for?
Branama simply means show off (shakara). The word was inspired by a grateful heart. I wanted to thank God for all he had done in my life at the time that I released that song. He had given me a reason to celebrate because I wasn’t really well-known at the time. I was just a young girl, who was relatively popular in Sapele, Delta State, before coming to Lagos and having that little breakthrough. So Branama Afrique means ‘Show off Africa’. Branama Afrique is a brand that is designed to aggressively redefine the African persona. It is the definition of our expressions, our strength, panache, beauty and values. It is more like a cultural reloading.
How do you deal with the fact that most people are unable to connect Kefee’s extravagant outlook with her spiritual life?
I am not like every other person. Everybody cannot be the same because life has no manual. I try to do everything I can with my talent and that makes me who I am. I try to get the best out of whatever talent that I have because everybody cannot encourage you, but at least there are people who value what I do.
Nevertheless, my appearance or extravagant outlook has never been out of place or indecent. I try as much as possible to be cool and look responsible as a woman and wife.
Many were surprised when the news of your marriage to Teddy Esosa broke. How do you feel finding love for the second time and so quickly?
It is a good feeling and words can’t express it.
How did you meet him?
Interestingly, we have known each other for a very long time. When he felt it was time, he proposed to me and the rest, as they say, is history.
What made you settle for him?
My husband is a very nice guy and I am enjoying my marriage. I am actually writing a book about my first marriage and this beautiful part of my life, but I don’t want to reveal much about it for now. But the bottom line is that I am so happy and if you ask me, this is the first time I am getting married. As far as I am concerned, this is my first marriage. And If I am asked to do it again, I will choose him. He is amazing, he is indeed awesome. And I have no regret marrying him whatsoever. My husband, indeed, makes my life beautiful, hence the title of my new song Beautiful. Everything I sang in that track was about him. My husband is beautiful to me and makes me beautiful! So, if you are in a marriage and you are not feeling beautiful, then you are sitting on a long thing.
What major lessons did you learn from your last marriage to Alec?
As much as I always try to avoid discussing him or that experience, I will still tell you that it only opened my eyes more to what life is all about. That marriage was a chapter in my life that I believe was meant to make me a stronger person. It made me realise that if you don’t go through some challenges, you will never become a stronger person. People face different challenges and that was my own story. It was my cross and when I realised that we couldn’t carry on, we had to part ways.
That experience earned you a lot of bad press. How did you deal with those moments?
Honestly, I can tell you that it has been more of good than bad press for me. Those bad moments actually made me to become more popular. Some important people who didn’t know me before then. But having listened to my songs, they made efforts to find me out and they weren’t disappointed at the kind of person they encountered. At the end of the day, those bad moments worked for my good.
How do you juggle being a wife, musician and entrepreneur?
No man is an island. I don’t work alone; I have trusted people working for me. I also have a husband that understands everything that I do. These make things easy for me both on the home front and out there. And I also try to be a responsible housewife. In my career, I have people who love what I do and try all their best to ensure that I give the best of my music. In my other businesses, I am also fortunate to have sincere people around me who help take care of things too. These have helped.
How have you been able to manage fame and fortune?
Having been brought up by my parents in a home where love, humility and discipline were the hallmark of growing up, it was only natural for those values to still be part and parcel of me. I never lost touch of where I was coming from. I never forgot the fact that I am a child of God and the fact that all that we have today came from Him. The fact that I was devoted to God helped me handle the fame that I have been opportune to enjoy.
What is your greatest desire as a wife?
I have already told God what I want from Him. There is no point telling you my greatest desire because you will not be able to do it for me. What I want God to do for me has been tabled before Him and I know He will do it in His time. Whenever I call on God, He always answers me.