Life has been about singing for Ifechukwu Mercy Michael, professionally known as Ifé. She was born in a family where singing was the norm. Ifé, at the age of ten, joined the chorus of traditional music that engulfed her household. Her father and mother were professional singers who recorded three albums at their peak.
Ifé attended the prestigious Nnamdi Azikiwe University in Awka Nigeria where she studied and graduated with a degree in Music and Performing Arts. While a student, Ifé picked up playing the guitar, Igbo traditional Uba Aka, and other percussion instruments.
The multi-talented Nigerian-born singer/songwriter, whose state of origin is Anambra (Umuawulu, Awka South LGA), centers her music on African culture, heritage, and advocacy for the girl-child, women, and mother tongue. This motivates her to research traditional Igbo folk songs and recycle them into the Afro-Soul genre, Alternative Highlife, and Pop idioms. The results are compelling, and a futuristic adventure for new sounds in music. With over four years of experience as a professional artist, her music journey remains adventurous as she also explores different sounds.
Ifé represents many African souls seeking to journey home, seeking to have a feel of the African ideals, and to represent these ideals. It takes calling to discern such a journey, courage to begin it, and tenacity to remain undeterred. She is set to journey almost forever on that path she is convinced that leads home.
More so, Ifé contributes in her measures to the growth of modern African music and musicianship. With performances at Mondial Music for women Festival 2021 in Abidjan, Black History Concert 2021 in Lagos, Nigeria, and Festival Music for women in Montreal, Canada (virtual concert) held in 2020, it is safe to say that Ifé represents the hope in Igbo cultural Renaissance and a force in the promotion of Igbo and African culture.
Ifé is a volunteer with the African Union/Center for Girls and Women Education in Africa on their #AfricaEducatesHer Campaign. She stands in solidarity using her music and artistry to Campaign for education for the girl-child in Africa and the fight against early girl-child marriage.
Ifé is part of the team that came together all over Africa on the project theme “Culture as a tool for healing.” This is a community and national outreach initiative that kicked off in South Africa. It is targeted at everyone that has lost a loved one, their job, or anything they hold dear due to COVID-19. This is a journey to initiate the healing process through music, performing arts, and poetry.
During her recent interview on BBC News Africa – Focus in Africa, she maintained that her language, roots, and culture make her stand out and build a great uniqueness around her style of music and artistry in total.
WHAT OR WHO INSPIRED YOU TO GET INTO MUSIC?
Growing up I had a strong musical background, my parents were both musicians and they were instrumental to my advent into music.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR STYLE OF MUSIC AND PERFORMANCE? HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR PHILOSOPHY AND STYLE AS AN ARTIST?
My musical style is drawn from culture, heritage, tradition, and my language - the Igbo language. It absolutely reflects my composition and rendition, making my artistry purely African.
My philosophy is living the African dream and my African identity is portrayed in style as an artist.
WHAT DRIVES YOU TO CREATE, AND HOW DO YOU DEFINE SUCCESS FOR YOURSELF IN MUSIC?
My love and passion for music is what drives me to create, and my definition of success in music is to create sounds that are of positive impact on my society and the world at large.
THROUGHOUT YOUR CAREER, WHO HAS HELPED YOU THE MOST WITH DEVELOPMENT AND SUPPORT?
My family and my team are the greatest support system I have. They inspire me to work hard and press forward.
SOMETIMES BEING IN THIS BUSINESS CAN BE OVERWHELMING. DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR MAINTAINING PERSPECTIVE AND NOT SWEATING THE SMALL STUFF?
Yes. I relax, manage my expectations, and do my very best all the time while I hope for the best.
HOW DO YOU THINK THE MUSIC INDUSTRY CAN DEVELOP INTO A MORE EQUITABLE AND INCLUSIVE ENVIRONMENT FOR WOMEN MUSIC CREATORS?
To me, this would be by creating opportunities and giving women a fair playing ground to showcase their talents without boundaries and limitations.
DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR YOUNG WOMEN MUSICIANS JUST STARTING THEIR CAREERS, BASED ON WHAT YOU’VE EXPERIENCED?
Start with what you have from where you are. Impossibilities only exist in the mind. Build a team and patiently grow a community around those that love your music.
FROM YOUR VIEW, WHAT OTHER KINDS OF MARGINALIZATION AND ERASURE DOES THE MUSIC INDUSTRY NEED TO ENSURE WE DON’T ENACT IN THE NAME OF GENDER EQUALITY?
To me, balance is key. There should always be room for reevaluation of policies that are being made. Flexibility is imperative as and when due.
WOMEN ARE BECOMING MORE EMPOWERED, NOT ONLY IN KNOWING THEIR VALUE BUT ALSO IN SETTING BOUNDARIES, GOING AFTER WHAT THEY WANT AND DESERVE, AND LIFTING UP OTHER WOMEN IN THE PROCESS. WHAT MOTTO, AFFIRMATION, OR QUOTE EMPOWERS YOU?
A line in my song "Extraordinary Girl" says "My price is not in silver, my worth is more than Gold." Nothing affirms me more than having a deep understanding of my value in society and how priceless my existence is and means to the world.
WHAT DO YOU HAVE COMING UP IN 2022?
I hope to tour around the world, release a few songs, and host the second edition of my own concert - Ifé and YOU concert 2.0.
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