Onyeka Onwenu Biography
Onyeka Onwenu is a Nigerian singer, songwriter, actress, journalist, politician, and X Factor series judge. She is the youngest daughter of the Nigerian educationist and politician D.K Onwenu.
Dubbed the “Elegant Stallion” by the Nigerian press, she is a former chairperson of the Imo State Council for Arts and Culture, and currently the Executive Director/chief executive officer of the National Centre for Women Development.
Onwenu possess a BA in International Relations and Communication of the Wellesley College of Massachusetts, USA, and a master’s degree in Media Studies from The New School for Social Research in New York.
She worked for many years at the United Nations in New York before returning to Nigeria in 1980, where she completed the mandatory one-year National Service, at the NTA where she made an impact as an articulate, incisive and fearless reporter.
In 1984, she wrote and presented the internationally acclaimed BBC/NTA documentary called Nigeria, A Squandering of Riches which became the definitive film about corruption in Nigeria as well as the intractable Niger Delta agitation for resource control and campaign against environmental degradation in the oil rich region of Nigeria. She has also served on the board of the NTA.
Onwenu began her music career in 1981 while still working with the NTA, releasing the album “For the Love of You”. Originally a secular artist, she now sings mainly gospel music, and continues to write and sing about issues such as health (HIV/AIDS), peace and mutual coexistence, respect for women rights and the plight of children. Her latest effort titled, “Inspiration for Change,” focuses on the need for an attitudinal turn around in Nigeria.
She is in partnership with Paris-based La Cave Musik, headed by Nigerian cultural entrepreneur Onyeka Nwelue, and UK-based Jungle Entertainment Ventures, headed by musicologist David Evans-Uhegbu. La Cave Musik is set to release her collection titled Rebirth of a Legend in November.
In 2013, she was named as one of the three judges on the Nigerian version of The X Factor. In recognition of her contribution to music and arts in Nigeria, she has been celebrated by professionals like Mahmood Ali-Balogun, Laolu Akins, Charles O’Tudor, and former PMAN president Tony Okoroji among others in the arts industry in Nigeria.
A member of the People’s Democratic Party, Onwenu was in the running to become Local Council Chairman of her native Ideato North Local Government Area of Imo State, but was appointed Chairperson of Imo State Council for Arts and Culture by former governor Ikedi Ohakim. On 16 September 2013, President Goodluck Jonathan appointed her the Executive Director/chief executive officer of the National Centre for Women Development.
Onyeka Onwenu Husband
It is not know for sure if Onyeka Onwenu is married to the father of her children. All that is know is that he has a last name “Ogunlende”, because this is the last name of her two sons. However, Onyeka prefers to keep her personal life as private as possible, and not reveal a lot about her family. She speaks openly about her motherhood and relationships with her children, but she does not disclose the name of her husband or if they are still together. When she was asked if she has ever been married to the father of her sons, Onyeka Onwenu refused to answer this question.
Onyeka Onwenu Children – Onyeka Onwenu Sons
Singer Onyeka Onwenu has two sons, Tijani Ogunlende and Onyeka Nwelue. Tijani Ogunlende is a graphic designer and photographer. The other son Abraham Ogunlende, is a painter, he is often called “Painterabe.” Abraham regularly organizes his own art exhibitions, where he showcases his artistic creations.
Onyeka Onwenu Net Worth
Onwenu is one of the richest musicians and actresses in Nigeria, she has an estimated net worth of $700,000.
Onyeka Onwenu Songs | List of Onyeka Onwenu Songs
- African Woman (Izunwanne)
- Mama Peace
- Living Music
- One Love (feat. Onyeka Onwenu)
- Ochie Dike (Mama) [feat. Onyeka Onwenu]
- You and I
- African Woman
- Egwu Ekene
- My World
- Mama Africa
- Bia Nulu
- Am The One
- Gbemi Leke
- Dancing in the Sun
- Oh Brother
- In The Morning Light
- Greatest Love
- Falling in Love
- My Everything God
- How Do I
- Onye Bu Nwanne
- Peace Song
- Nso Nso
- One Nation
- Gaba Niru
- Ko Si
- Just Because
- I Am Blessed
- Oh Woman
- My Fathers Child
- African Woman (Izunwanne)
- Renewed II
- Wait for me
- Holy, Holy
- Onyeka Onwenu
- I’m The One
Onyeka Onwenu News
Onyeka Onwenu Begs Buhari, Boko Haram Over Leah Sharibu
Updated: Jul 18, 2018
Nigerian singer and human right activist, Onyeka Onwenu has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure the release of Leah Sharibu who is in Nigerian Islamist militant group Boko Haram captivity.
Onwenu made the appeal through a Facebook video posted on Wednesday.
She said President Buhari should take a cue from the rescue of the Thai soccer team and release Sharibu.
Recall that more than 105 Dapchi schoolgirls were abducted by Boko Haram on the 19th of February 2018 including Sharibu.
Later March, 105 students were returned to their parents by the Nigerian islamist militant group while 5 were confirmed dead.
Sharibu was the only Dapchi school girl left in Boko Haram captivity
It was later reported that she was held back after she refused to denounce her Christian faith.
In the video shared on Facebook, Onwenu said, “President Buhari, I urge you to use every influence, every avenue to put pressure on Boko Haram to release Leah Sharibu who chose to remain loyal to Jesus Christ and every other person held in captivity.
“Leah is a straight, ‘A’ student, I am begging Boko Haram to please in the name of all that is good, release every captive let them live, let Nigeria live.
“I also call on president Buhari to be inspired by the successful rescue mission of the Thai boys to do the same to rescue children held by Boko Haram.
“Mr President stop the killing in Nigeria, it’s enough. Rescue our children languishing in captivity,” Onwenu pleaded.
ONYEKA ONWENU PLEADS FOR THE RELEASE OF LEAH SHARIBU#MrPresidentEnoughOfTheKillings
Posted by HBones Media. on Wednesday, 18 July 2018
Onyeka Onwenu Iyogogo
Onyeka Onwenu Ekwe
Onyeka Onwenu One Love
Onyeka Onwenu In The Morning Light lyrics
Onyeka Onwenu Interview
“I AM NOT A SNOB” — ONYEKA ONWENU RESPONDS TO ARAMIDE’S INTERVIEW
Coming after she was accused of being a snub by singer, Aramide, Nigerian veteran singer Onyeka Onwenu in an interview with TheCable Lifestyle, debunked the report and also talked about her fight against chauvinistic Nigerian entertainment industry, her journey into music and acting, present-day lyrical content and videos and so much more.
Here are excerpts from the interview;
After spending decades in the industry, what changes and innovations do you appreciate the most — and have had the most impact on your craft?
It has to be the digital advancement and other technical improvements and renovations available in the studio, such as voice corrections. But then one has to be careful with these because the analog system has its merits.
The sound is richer and more authentic to the ear. We get around this by using both systems.
Also, the fact that you do not need to be signed to a record company for your music to be heard is a good thing for up and coming artistes who probably would not have had the opportunity they now have to simply reach their fans through the internet.
How did you get your first break into music, then later, acting?
While still in the United States in 1978 or thereabouts, I happened to speak on the phone with Sunny Okosuns. His first wife Nkechi was the sister of my first cousin’s wife, Ada Dan-Chimah and Sunny had called their house in Chicago where I was spending my summer holidays.
I told him I was interested in having a professional music career. He asked me to send him a demo tape, which I did and which he liked. When I got back to Nigeria in 1980, I contacted him again and he took me to EMI. I was signed on and Sunny Okosuns produced my first album, ‘Endless Life’.
I never planned to go into acting. My immediate elder sister Ijeoma was the Actress in the family and she was very talented, my mother too. However, around 1989, Zik Zulu blackmailed me into acting in the film, ‘Nightmare’.
The story was about a childless woman who found an abandoned baby and raised her. He promised that the proceeds would go to an orphanage. He had faith that I could act. The film was well received and my acting career took off from there.
Your role in the adaptation of Chimamanda Adichie’s ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ earned you wide praise.
How was that experience?
It was very special on a number of levels; It was Chimamanda herself who insisted that I must play the part and she felt really vindicated after my performance. The producers thanked her for it.
The experience of working with Hollywood greats like Chiwetel Ejiofor, Thandi Newton, Annika Rose provided me with a great opportunity to learn a thing or two. To have received the reviews I did, in the midst of them, was something to be proud of. It was God’s grace.
I am also very proud that one of us John Boyega who was later cast in a Star Wars film is now the toast of Hollywood.
I am hoping that opportunities like that will also come for me, from my appearance in Half of A Yellow Sun. It was a pity that for some political reasons, efforts were made to kill the film in Nigeria.
Finally, for the first time in Nigeria, Biafra could be depicted in a film. It gave us the opportunity to discuss our history. This is something that is needed, even if it still makes us uncomfortable, discuss it we must, so that we do not continue to make the same mistakes.
You have managed to keep your personal life vis-a-vis your children from the media glare. How’s that been possible and is that, in your opinion, the way to go?
I am a shy and private person. Because I insist on living a down to earth life, going to the market, doing the school run and going to places with my children when they were younger, I knew that I had to play down the celebrity lifestyle to a minimum.
I am a diva on stage or in any situation that calls for it, otherwise, I am just an ordinary person. That simplifies my life and protects my family from unnecessary scrutiny and unwanted attention. My children are not keen on capitalising on their mother’s name. They are intent on making their own. I respect them for that.
A lot of veterans have issues with present-day lyrical content and shoddy live performances — what’s your take on this?
I grew up in Port Harcourt in the ’50s and early ’60s, before the Nigeria/Biafra war. Those were the days of Rex Lawson, Osita Osadebe Celestine Ukwu, etc. Their songs were philosophical.
But they also had lyrics castigating women and calling them Ashawo, ‘One Pound no balance’ and so on. That made me promise myself that I would sing songs that would uplift women.
My point is that sexy, nonsensical lyrics have always been with us. As each generation matures, they realise that what endures is what edifies. They will switch tactics and write better songs.
I am more worried though about their videos. They are becoming more sexually explicit by the day and the children are watching. In fact, they are being influenced by the lewd dances they see in these videos, and their parents seem unconcerned. Mark my words, sooner than later, these children will begin to enact these sexual moves in real life.
I was at a children’s party recently and I nearly cried at what I was witnessing. Many parents were around and didn’t care.
But when I took over the microphone and began singing my songs, Iyogogo, Ekwe, You and I, Bia Nulu, Alleluya, etc, the dance steps changed. The children enjoyed dancing and synchronised their steps but no lewd movements.
What was it like starting a career in entertainment at a time when there was no technological disruption or internet boom?
It was very interesting. We knew no better, so we took it all in our stride. For example, with the analog system of recording we were using in the early 80s, you had to record with your band, all playing and singing at the same time.
If one person made a noticeable mistake, you had to start all over again. It was quite frustrating at times. Also, there was a noticeable drop in the technical quality of music recorded locally, compared to what was obtainable abroad. Mixing was also challenging.
You had to cut, slice and join tapes, which was not always neat. The engineer also needed to be hands-on and remember the manipulation of the panel, as programmed in his head.
Many Artistes would compensate by starting their recording in Nigeria, but finishing in London. Still, the technical problems persisted.
In 1984, however, when I recorded the album ‘In The Morning Light’, which contained songs like Ekwe, Bia Nulu and Alleluya, I decided to scrap the initial recording I had done in Nigeria because the technical quality was suspect and start all over again, from scratch, in London.
We went partly digital, using the FairLight system. It turned out to be the first album in Nigeria with a digital component. The difference, of course, was remarkable.
The release and promotion of an album after release also were challenging. You had to work with a recording company and physically take your music to the radio and TV stations and of course the print media.
There was no YouTube or iTunes so distribution was laborious and fraught with exposure to piracy.
Did you ever consider taking a hike when the entertainment industry wasn’t as financially profitable as present day?
Yes, I considered leaving the music industry, but not for financial reasons, but for the lack of respect and consideration from the audience, the press, as well as the male practitioners in the industry.
Sometimes, people feel that you are public property just because you are a woman and an entertainer. They feel that they are entitled to talk to you anyhow, touch you, use your services and not pay you.
I had to devise ways to protect myself. My policy is to only mix with people on a professional basis. I am very formal. I do not joke around and I do not socialise. I also collect all my fees before the show.
By the same token, I conduct myself in a professional and self-respecting manner. I leave no room for failure to live up to expectations. In fact, I strive to exceed expectations in my performances.
I must say, however, that this has led to some people labelling me a snob. But I am not. I am indeed shy and very down to earth. I am also confident and self-assured.
What projects are you involved in other than entertainment?
When the music industry took a nose dive in the ’80 and ’90s, when record companies such as Polygram, EMI and Sony left the country, artistes like me picked up the gauntlet and continued to sustain the industry by financing releasing and promoting our music, under individual labels.
Mine was called Ayollo Productions. We owned and rented out a rehearsal studio, musical equipment and the Kabassa Band.
I also set up and Events Center in GRA Ikeja called The Unity Center. As a member of PMAN and PMRS, I contributed my bit to sanitising and regulating the music industry, with regards to issues such as piracy, intellectual property and copyright dues. PMRS metamorphosed into COSON, one of the two collecting society in Nigeria today.