My name is Ijeoma Ononobi and my brand name is Ijekimora. I am from Awomama, in Imo State, Nigeria. I am the second child of my family. I have five siblings– two brothers and three sisters. I come from a very religious background and I’ve lived in America all my life.
I attended Weaver Elementary, Jackson Magnetic Middle School, North Garland High School, Wade College, and the University of North Texas, where I bagged a Bachelor’s degree in Fashion Merchandising Marketing.
Singing is definitely rewarding and fulfilling. Singing is my happy place and allows me to express myself in many ways. Every song I sing and write has a great meaning behind it and it always tends to make one feel good. It depends on the type of mood I’m in. I love experimenting with different genres and sounds. I also love infusing both Western and African culture into my music because they represent me, especially, now that afrobeat is a worldwide phenomenon. It makes it great to bring both worlds together. I also like to pull from other people’s life stories. For example, my single, Cheetah, was inspired by a friend of mine.
The first year I came to Nigeria to work on my music, many people in the industry wanted to sleep with me before they would help me, even when I said I could pay (for their services). Those that lied and said they would help ended up stealing my money and made up lies. I really had to scratch everything off and start again, hence my hiatus.
Firstly, many of the producers in America didn’t understand or feel the essence of the African sound. So, I needed to come home and work with people who understand what African music is about. Secondly, I wanted to grow my brand and I knew the only way I could that was to come to the music hub of Africa– Lagos. Thirdly, I wanted to see where my money was going. I was tired of sending money to Nigeria and not seeing any results.
God is all that motivates me. But the success stories of other women, such as Mo Abudu, push me. Mo’ is such an inspiration.
I’ve already found my feet in the Nigerian music industry. Am I open to other collaborations? Yes, but that’s on a commercial basis. My main goal is to interact with my fans because they are the most important to me.
I agree that male artistes find it easier in the industry than their female counterparts. For example, it takes a lot for a woman to break into the industry. One has to have a good face, a nice body and good fashion sense. There’s also this stigma about age. One can’t be a 50-year-old woman singing about her life because many won’t listen. But a 50-year-old man could sing about crap and be praised. All society expects a woman to do is go to the kitchen, cook, change diapers and lay on the bed for her husband. But, I’m here to change all that. A woman can do more and be more than a household tool.
Leaving my family, my well paid job, and taking one of the biggest risks in my life by buying a one-way ticket to Nigeria. My faith and my brain are some of the personal qualities that have helped me get this far. Also, what my dad told me before I returned to Nigeria, “Ij, when you go, don’t fall for the traps. Many people would promise things and lie. They are not who they say they are and they don’t do what they say they do. Actions always need to weigh more than their words”.
Sexual harassment, which female hasn’t experienced it? When those perverts who hold higher positions in this industry see a girl with a cute face and a nice body just trying to make a name for herself, all they think about is sexual favours. But I’m happy it happened because it’s the fire that pushes me.
My greatest fear is being broke, failure, and not making heaven.
Fame has robbed me of my privacy and the freedom to express how I feel. Society expects one to be an ideal role model, and if one is slapped, one should say thank you and walk out. But I’m not about that life. I am not a role model. That’s a job for fathers and mothers.
I agree that there are many fake friends in the entertainment industry. But I’m too busy for that. I’m always too busy to hang around.
I treat my male fans accordingly. Some get carried away, at times, but I have a way of simmering them down. I love all my fans, both female and male.
I don’t discriminate. If one wants a quick fix, sure. But as for me, my body is natural.
All I’m focused on right now is my music career and businesses. Men will come and go, but my career still stays.
My first performance at the ‘Enugu Roadblock’ was a memorable moment for me.
I will never compromise my body to get ahead. I don’t mind starting from the bottom to get to where I need to be.
I can’t do without my phones, headphones, wigs, and of course, my ‘edges’. Let’s not forget my designer bags and shoes.
I don’t know about any other female artiste, but as for me, I use my God-given talent to promote my music, not my sexuality.
The secret of my beauty is drinking water, moisturising, and minding my business.
I love to sing and do anything exciting and beneficial to me.