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I prefer singing to acting – Ngozi, Zack Orji’s wife

With over 100 movies to her credit, in which she featured as actress
and costume designer, Ngozi Orji has come a long way. Now, with two
singles in the kitty, the wife of veteran actor, Zack Orji, is on the
verge of creating her own empire in the Nigerian gospel music industry.

In this interview, Orji, who plans to drop a full album sometime next
year, speaks on how it all started and why gospel musicians find it
difficult to attract corporate sponsorship, among other issues.

Tell us briefly about yourself
I am Ngozi Orji. I read Secretarial Studies at the Institute of
Management and Technology, Enugu. After my graduation, I attended the
Piscean School of Fashion, Ikeja, Lagos, where I cut my teeth in Costume
Designing. Thereafter, I studied English at University of Lagos,
graduating in 2000.

How was your growing up, did you sing as a child?
I come from an average Christian family of about six children. I’m the
first daughter; we are four girls and two boys. So, growing up was fun,
but not that easy, because I come from a family where my father was a
no-nonsense disciplinarian. He brought us up with an iron hand. I would
say that the upbringing I got from my family helped in shaping me to
become what I am today. Dad was so strict; he was just interested in our
education. Any other talent was never to be mentioned. He encouraged me
after my secondary education, when he felt I had matured enough to
choose a career. So, I will say yes; but you know, you propose and
desire, but it’s only God who decides and approves.

When actually did you start singing?
All along, I have been singing. I started singing before I ventured into
acting and costume designing. In fact, I have sung all my life; my
genre of music is gospel. Professionally, my singing career dates back
to about 20 years ago. I started as a chorister in the Full Gospel
Businessmen’s Fellowship. At different times at Word Base Assembly, and
also Power Line Bible Church, I was either a worship leader or praise
minister. I have also been a guest artiste in different churches on
different occasions.
My career as a gospel artiste has taken me to different countries like
Ghana and the UK. Now is time for me to do a compilation of all the
songs I have written and composed over the years, and bless the world
with them. I wish to praise the Lord with these songs and express my
gift on a larger scale by extending it to a wider audience.

What inspires your songs?
My inspiration comes from God, because He is the giver of inspirations.
The desire to praise and worship God for who He is in my life and what
He has done for me also inspires me, and so does my family. Sometimes, I
use songs as my own way of talking about my personal experiences – what
I have gone through and what other people have gone through. In
addition, I use my songs to encourage other people to have faith and
trust in God; that too inspires me. I believe that in everything we
should give God praise.

Are you worried that gospel artistes are not getting enough endorsements like their colleagues in secular music?
I think it’s a corporate policy thing. This is my personal opinion; I’m
not generalising. Some corporate bodies do not want to spend their money
on gospel artistes. Probably, they feel they might not make reasonable
returns or that the music might not give their brands the desired
mileage or clout that they might get from secular artistes.
However, the truth is that, gospel music has a limited audience unlike
secular music that enjoys the patronage of all segments of the Nigerian
public. Another reason might be the fact that most of them want to
separate religion from business. They are for business and are not ready
for any religious controversy, which might have a negative spill over
effect on their brands. However, I think we will get there; it’s a
gradual process.

How do you feel being wife of Nollywood’s celebrity, Zack Orji?
I feel good; I am blessed to have him. He is a good husband, a gentle man and a good father to our kids.

Would you say entertainment runs in the family?
I would say that entertainment is in our genes, because my son, Lionel,
has also gone into music. I feel blessed to have him; he is a very
gifted young man with about five singles to his credit and three videos.
He is also one of my producers. He produces most of my songs. He is
very talented and I thank God for him. I couldn’t have a better son.

If you were asked to choose between acting and music, which one would you choose?
If you take gospel music out of my life, I will not be complete, because
gospel music is what I love doing. I have other talents; but most of
all, I love to sing more than anything else. Gospel music is the part of
me that always connects me to God. It is that part of me that God uses
to reach out to other people to bless them. So, I would say that without
gospel music, I am very empty and incomplete because it is the one
thing that gives me joy. It gives me a lot of joy seeing people
responding and being blessed when I’m ministering. I have other talents
like acting; I went to a fashion school and also train as a costume
designer. I have actually acted in, and costumed over a 100 movies. I’m
also a businesswoman. I run a fashion boutique and interior-decorating
outfit.

When are we expecting your album?
My album debuts sometime next year. Before now, I have dropped two
singles: Chim No Nso and N’ime Jehovah, which are making waves. I sing
in Igbo and Pidgin English because I need to cut across to everyone. I’m
also going to do another one in Yoruba. The idea is to reach everybody
and express the gospel. In my second single, I featured a popular
Ghanaian singer, Obiba Sly Collins. Even though, the song was done in
Igbo, the video is subtitled in English for everybody to understand.

What advice do you have for the youth?
Let them always believe in themselves and have faith and trust only in
God; God is the only one that cannot fail them. Let them never give up
on their dreams and never lose hope. When there is life there is hope;
they should never compromise. They should not trade their destiny for
anything; no matter how difficult the situation might be, God will
always make a way. Let them always dream big and trust God; all things
are possible with Him.

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