In what looks like a never-ending chat, because I had to meet up with her on a Sunday evening during a live recording at the Kingdom Africa Studio, Oregun in Lagos, Lara George was practically shuttling between spending time with me and the live recording crew. Hectic it was for both of us, as she was halted several times at the middle of the interview, attending to issues until the chat finally came to a close. However, the mother of two, a jolly good fellow, handling the hectic situation like a pro, still managed to smile and sometimes give a roaring laughter through it all. Here in this chat with OPEOLUWANI AKINTAYO, she opens up on quite a number of interesting issues from growing up, to the time of KUSH, her career, marriage and all. Read on!

You look good!

Thank you! (bubbling with excitement)

How has it been with you lately?

Well, I?m in a very happy season of my life. I just recently released a new single titled ?Love Wantintin? which is the lead single off my new album, coming up. The album is also titled ?Love Wantintin?. So, I?ve been busy promoting that and, yes, I?m very excited about it. The album is to celebrate my 10 years of marriage and I?m very excited right now.

?Dansaki? is a really big song now. Did you know the song was going to be that popular?

(laughs). When I put it on the ?Higher? album, I didn?t have an idea of how big it would become. I thought it would be another one of the songs in the album. I didn?t know ?Dansaki? would be the one everybody will love most. So, it?s a pleasant surprise to me because the song also happens to be one of my favourites on the album. As an artiste, you?ll never really know what?s going to resonate with the people, you just do your work and put it out there and people will decide which one they love the most.

I also read your tweet about a testimony given by an On-Air- Personality on how the song brought her mom back to life after she went into coma. How did you feel after hearing that your song brought back someone who could have died in the process?

(Blushing) I am totally in awe at hearing that kind of story about my song. For me, it?s just the Grace of God because it?s still a little fantastic and kind of unbelievable. I?ve heard of such things happening, but when it happened with my music I was like ?is this for real?? After that, I?ve received so many other testimonies. People have called me from the UK, from here in Nigeria, from Malaysia, giving me those awesome testimonies all the time, especially on Facebook. It?s not like they are saying it?s the song that sparked the miracle, but they say that listening to the words of the songs helped them stay connected enough for God to see them through whatever trying times they were going through. Some people who had waited on God for children; some who almost had an abortion; some who were going through some kind of sicknesses; some who did Kidney transplant and had issues with it and, when they listened to the song, God saw them through. I?ve heard all kinds of amazing testimonies (sober and almost in tears).

You are about the biggest among the members of the defunct group, KUSH. You broke out from ROCK SOLID back in school to form KUSH with Dapo, Emem and TY Bello. I?m sure you had your doubts about becoming this successful when you decided to go solo?

The hope for me when I was going solo was that I would be bigger than where I am today. So, I don?t feel I am where I want to be yet in terms of my goal in music. I didn?t really break out as such. ROCK SOLID was a school fellowship choir.

Even at that, ROCK SOLID released an album which was successful too

Yes, we released an album but then, just like people graduate from the choir, I naturally graduated from there and because I had already formed an alliance with Emem, TY, and Dapo, we went on to start the group Kush. Unfortunately, after some years, the group rested, and I had an almost three year break in between when I started doing the regular 9:am-5:pm job before I started my solo career, between 2004-2007.

But the group had its challenges

Yes, there were challenges. At the time when KUSH was hot on Nigeria?s music scene, music wasn?t as it is today. It was very challenging for very young three professionals who were fresh graduates from school, with a lot of pressure from the family.

Yes, especially from your mother

Yes, they didn?t understand what we were doing because music wasn?t paying. So, to keep the group going was difficult. That was the main reason each of us started doing other things.

So you went back to working as an architect?

I wasn?t really practicing architecture at that time. I worked in a real estate firm while I was with KUSH but during that three year break, I worked with an IT firm, just a quiet little job on the Island where I didn?t want to be bothered by anybody (laughs).

At age six/seven, you started writing your own songs and saying to yourself that you wanted to please God. A girl of that age should be thinking of playing with dolls, eating and having fun, but you had such a big dream in your little head?

(laughs) I had music in my blood.

But none of your parents was a pro in music!

Exactly. Although my mom had a nice singing voice, none of my family members went into professional music, not even as a hobby. I guess I got my voice from my mom. So, I didn?t have anybody to draw from. All I know was that I used to dream doing music a lot. I grew up watching a lot of music videos on NTA; I used to watch Eddy Brown, Micheal Jackson and see people screaming and fainting, and I?d be like ?yeah, someday I?m going to do concerts like this and attract massive crowds!?

We know that most mothers of musicians are usually the ones supporting them but yours was different. Your mom was at the forefront of discouraging you. Why?

In the case of my parents, time vindicated me. I understand the concern she had at that time when I just started music.

Was it just about you not bringing in the money?

It wasn?t about the money. She was just concerned about the viability of music as a career. She wanted something I could do, and still be respected. Again, she didn?t want anything that wouldn?t stop me from school. But as soon as I was done, she was relieved because it was easier to let go. And, over time, all of her fears have been allayed because eventually I didn?t become wayward.

As an artiste with your kind of music, do you get shows?

I get invited. My husband manages my affairs, so he arranges everything. On average, I do four events in a month, which is very good. So, I?m actually quite busy and, again, God has brought me to a point where I can bill people and it?s quite competitive. I know it?s not like the million dollars per five minutes show yet, but I?m not doing badly.

I like the way your husband is here with you. Does he follow you around always?

Sometimes, when he has time. Today is Sunday and he?s available. We also work together because we do real estate too. Often times, we synchronize our calendar so that we can work together as much as possible. I?m glad that he takes time off whenever he can to be with me on a day like this, and that?s important to me.

Does he get jealous when you get too much attention, especially from male fans?

My husband is not a musician. He?s a legal practitioner. He does his own thing and I like that. He?s very confident in himself and so, for him, what makes me happy makes him happy too, and I?ve never had an issue with him where he feels we?re competing because I?m like just one of his ribs (roars of laughter). So, for every one thing I do, he?s done like a zillion more.

He?s really looking good. You?re taking good care of him

Really? (blushes). Well, I thank God. He?s the size I want him to be. He?s just perfect.

You go to the gym together?

Yes. We do walks together; we jog, treadmill and swim together.

You said your husband didn?t propose to you while dating and that the relationship just went from friendship into marriage talks? I remember he said he was going to do something special to cover up for that

I?m still waiting for that special thing (admiring her husband).

I know you?d have wished for that romantic please-marry-me kind of thing

Of course!

Do you dream of it even after years down the line?

Actually, in retrospect, I realized that he actually did the romantic kind of proposal but I missed it because I thought he was joking on that day. I actually have a photo of him kneeling down in front of me and asking me to marry him in front of his friends. (Her husband suddenly got up and showed the picture of his proposal, and there was a general laughter). It was on his 30th birthday but when he did this, I thought he was joking.

Look at you here, you were just laughing.

Yes, I was just laughing! People were there and they took the photo and I just thought he wasn?t serious.

But I can?t see any ring here!

Exactly! There was no ring sef? but the ring came later

Look at him here, so slim

(laughs). It?s been 10 years, you know.

Oga, you said you were planning something great for her. What?s that you?re planning? I asked the husband.

She?s not telling the whole world the truth (he replied calmly). I know (Lara cooed in) I?m still waiting for that great thing he wants to do (she continued). She?s been telling everyone I?m not romantic (he interjected softly). I?m sure this picture will vindicate me. (general laughter)

So what would you have wished for if he was to do that surprise?

Aahh, let me not put him under too much pressure. I?ll let him be the one to assess the definition of what he thinks I?ll consider special. It?s been 10 years, you know. Let me leave that one under cover.

What if he gives you another baby!

Another baby keh? How is that a gift (she exclaimed). From who to who? Abeg o!

*Published in the Daily Times newspaper of Friday January 9, 2015

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