April 15, 2024
Interview

When UK-based Nigerian performer Real O’Rael touched down with ‘A Long Walk Home’

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  • March 12, 2024
  • 8 min read
When UK-based Nigerian performer Real O’Rael touched down with ‘A Long Walk Home’

By Godwin Okondo

When British-Nigeria performer Real O’Rael (Israel Godwin Oghenekaro Onoriode of I-Records under IGOO World) touched down at the Department of Theatre Arts, University of Port Harcourt performance space, The Crabs, recently, it was a homecoming no other like it. Having trained at the department, he thought to return and give back to the young ones who lack platforms and are in need of direction after finishing their studies. Real O’Rael described the moment as electrifying the response he got from the young ones. Although still playing his musical craft in Britain, he has begun a process of a return to base. Establishing a foundation in memory of his late mother and setting down his musical roots in Nigeria are uppermost on his mind, as he revealed in this interview

What was the concept behind ‘A Long Walk Home’ visit to The Crabs at the University of Port Harcourt?
I
called it ‘A Long Walk Home’. I believe that my own definition of success is that one is able to give back in someway, whoever you are and whatever you’ve done. It’s what you leave behind on earth when you pass that is important, not what you take with you. That is why the little place I found myself and moved to, I’ve succeeded to a level, so I should come back and give to young ones in my alma mater, which was why I did that, so they could see what I do. I do jazz and soul music, which is not very common here, but for them to see what I do. I graduated from the University of Port Harcourt, and I’ve gone out to the world, the marketplace in another country, and I have found a way to track people. Because of that, I made it work for me, and it’s working for me.

I started from scratch, doing open mics and also sang on the streets, because it’s part of their (Europe) culture to have singers on the streets — they’re called buskers. I did that; now, I even have two bands now. One is a small band and I’m a frontman for that, and another is a 19-piece band. I have a hit that is selling out in March. I believe that’s a level of success and I ought to give back. I answered some questions about how to find a way out in the market place away from school, and I gave a little speech on being consistent.

I told them that consistency is power. In the beginning, people may laugh at you because they don’t know what you’re doing, but when you’re consistent, people stop to look at you and wonder. And when people start getting attracted to you; those who were laughing at you begin to come back. You are now in a niche in a particular area. You can only achieve that if you’re consistent. I told them that I believe in what consistency is, and I am following what my mother told me. I told them that it’s wherever you plan to be that you must continue to focus on. Focus and consistency are brothers and are very powerful together.

Most of them asked me questions about my struggle so far, and I said while out there, I didn’t struggle so much because I was consistent in doing my own thing, and even when the world was crazy, and they were saying things about Black Lives Matter, even the white folks were saying ‘my life matters’, because I was contributing to my community and doing my own bit. If we do your own bit and relate with our immediate community, we will be found relevant. I’ve never really felt racism as most of our people, because I just blend in. People accept me, because I’m doing my bit and making my training relevant. Those were what I was pushing out there as we were discussing.

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UK-based Nigerian performer Real O’Rael on the dance floor in Port Harcourt with a student

Did you only give them a talk? Didn’t you also perform to show your skills?
Of course, the format of the performance was that I introduced myself and spoke a little bit about where I am and where I started, and I would sing and talk a bit. The place was electrifying. Young people love a bit of romance, so I did ‘Let’s Get It On’ by Marvin Gaye. Then I took one girl from the audience and I danced with her, and the whole place erupted. I performed my songs on the first day, because that was the gig I planned for and I had ample time to do it. But I just wanted to play to them on the second one, because it was a different setting. While I was dancing with the girl, I couldn’t even hear my singing because the noise was so loud, with people shouting and singing, and they lit up their phones and started waving.

Will you go back again another time when you’re in town?
Yes, I’m coming in November for the charity. What I’m doing now for the charity is to come and establish it. I’m a Christian and I believe everything has to take its root, in a spiritual stand, because the charity is in honour of my mother, who lost two sisters to mental health and diabetes. These are what the charity is about, and that’s why we are enlightening people about lifestyle, and eventually test some people and advise them on mental health. I talked about it in my mum’s church in her village, Eku in Ethiope East LGA, Delta State and we had it blessed. On February 3, 2024, there was a church session about it, and we’ve started working towards the first major seminar, which is going to happen in November 2024. My late mum was born on November 1.

So, I’m putting some people together. Some celebrities here have agreed to be the trustee, as well as the reverend from my mum’s church, who apparently is a cousin; he’s also a trustee. I’m also convincing these people that it’s not going to be like some other charities where people who start it make it financially beneficial to them. It will be what a charity is meant to be: to work out what it’s supposed to do, and the people involved in it don’t look at it from any financial point of view.

Apart from the foundation in honour of your mother, do you have plans of returning home to Nigeria to also ply your creative craft?
I started everything here. I trained here and I’m doing it now in the diaspora where I found myself and I seek to be able to continue something here back home. So I’m working with a couple of guys and trying to put stuffs together and a couple of films we are going to be working on. So as I’ve come to do charity, I would also be involved in some creative works, and record my songs. Apparently, all the songs I’ve done, I made from my own original songs. I made sure I recorded then back home. All the ones I’ve recorded in the past, I’ve often come to record them back home and I’m going to continue with that, but I might also add some film works too, because I’m a thespian and I’m trained as an actor. I majored in acting at the University of Port Harcourt in Theatre Arts. I majored in radio, too. So, I’m going to work in those areas which I want to be relevant in back home.

You also have a record label, right?
In have a record label and I’m working with a team here too, doing some work to look for some young acts that we can also push forward. I’ve tried to do it in the past but it was a little bit delayed or constrained by the distance between where I am and here, but I have a team in place now and we are trying to see if we can do a concert with people we’ve gone around picking, which will be on May 26, 2024. The label is I-Records and I’m registering all the legal things as regards putting the brand out. The umbrella body which is the name I use for my event is IGOO World, an acronym of my name – Israel Godwin Oghenekaro Onoriode. I-Record is under IGOO World, which is a production company, media and entertainment, and also hospitality.

Where will IGOO World be based?
I chose Asaba to be my main place for now, because it’s the capital of my state. There’s nothing apart from that, but I think most of the things we will do will be in Lagos. That’s when it comes to entertainment, and almost everything is tied to Lagos in a way. So, we are going to do most of the work in Lagos, but we will have a root in Delta state. That’s where I’m from, and I want to try by all means to promote a lot in Delta state.

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