Away from his sensual music videos and suggestive waist movements, contemporary Nigerian highlife artiste, Flavour Na’biana, cuts a different picture when you meet him in person.
Flavour says he is able to switch between the two different personalities in him. The singer, who started out playing drums and guitar in his local church, describes himself as a modest artiste.
“If you watch my videos, listen to my songs and then meet me one-on-one, you will be disappointed. When I am on stage, I am Flavour but off the stage, I am simply Chinedu Okoli (his real name). Away from the show business, my daily routine is simple. After doing my morning chores, I am either off to the studio, busy playing pool or play station or simply chilling with my colleagues. I am not a party animal.”
It is only a week to his 29th birthday party scheduled to, according to him, take place at a five star-hotel in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, but Flavour is already in high spirits. Having transformed from a young lad who is best described as a ‘local champion’ in Enugu State, to one of the most sought-after Nigerian artistes, the singer describes his rise and achievements in less than three years as surreal.
“I feel humbled and blessed, because of the love and appreciation I get from my fans. Well, when I started I wanted fame so much but now sometimes, I wish I could do some things without people noticing me. One of my career's highpoints was when I shot a video in Paris, France with Fally Ipupa because it simply shows how far I have come. I am constantly overwhelmed, such that I find it hard to explain.”
In October, he officially launched his third studio album, Blessed, and opened his latest business venture, 2 Nite Klub Lounge, in Enugu. With the club, he has joined the growing number of Nigerian stars diversifying into other areas.
He says, “It is a part management deal I have with a friend and big brother Frank Obasi, the CEO of Toscana Hotel, Enugu. It feels good because it is something I had always wanted to do. It has always been my personal aspiration to own a night club. It is a joint venture with Obasi and it is located in his hotel premises. I am not going to leave music because it is skin deep. “
In recent times, Twitter has afforded a number of Nigerian stars the opportunity to engage in self-aggrandisement and communicate with fans. However, Flavour sort of received an endorsement from American super star, Keri Hilson, last month when the latter tweeted, “Now playing Ashawo Remix by Flavour. I love this song. I have no idea what he is saying, I just love the song. “It came as a surprise to his followers.
Confirming the post, the singer, who is barely active on social networks, says, “Yes, at first I thought it was one of those media stunts, but when it was verified, I felt appreciated and humbled, not just for my music but for African music and how far we have come. It shows that music is a universal language and I plan to collaborate with her on a song when she comes to Nigeria over the weekend. I am yet to decide if it is going to be a new track or one of my old hits.”
Commenting on the new trend of collaborations between Nigerian singers and foreign artistes, he says, “It is really good to collaborate but it’s better when there is a good chemistry between both artistes so, I advise people not to rush into collaborations because of fame but for the music.”
Like other artistes, the decision to do music is one that is often met with stiff opposition from parents or guardians. For Flavour, it was a tough call convincing his mother to support his decision. According to him, his mother was in support of his musical career during his days in the church. But a meeting later with a music label executive which he regarded as a blessing ironically strained the relationship between him and his mother.
“It all started when the resident pastor at his church introduced him to a friend, Chris Ordor, the CEO of SoundCity Communications, who had just started a musical company aimed at training young musicians on the rudiments of music and nurturing them all the way to a professional level. Shortly after in 1996, I was invited to join the company on an educational scholarship to study music at the University of Nsukka. But my mum will not hear of that because she had a brother who had earlier failed in his music career but I understood her fears.
‘‘In 2001, when the label moved to Port Harcourt, I found it hard shuttling between Enugu and Port-Harcourt, as a result I had to prematurely terminate my scholarship due to my mother’s refusal to allow me move to the Garden City,” he explains. Today, the story has changed because his mother is now his greatest fan.