Latoya Aduke Ekemode, wife of one of Nigeria’s legendary musicians, Orlando Julius, is a songwriter, dancer and singer. She is never absent on stage when Julius is doing his ‘thing’ anywhere in the world. She spoke with ANTHONIA DURU on music and life.
You have performed at major cities in Europe. Can you compare your performances at such cities with Nigeria?
There is no basis for comparism; there is better organisation, great sound system, appreciation and accommodating. The performances are always sold out due to good promotion, plus they pay as at when due.
What makes your brand and that of your hubby unique?
I guess because Orlando has been at this for a long time, people outside the shores of Nigeria still enjoy his contributions to music. We are simple, we enjoy ourselves on stage. We sing of joy, love, happiness and we sing against war. When he plays the saxophone, the world is in a better place.
How will you rate Nigeria’s entertainment industry?
There is abundance of raw talent; Nigeria is trying if given the right promotion. More people will even come here for music tourism. There are no regular concerts, only expensive events. Artistes need platforms to showcase what they have.
Artistes need platforms to showcase what we have. In Oakland, California, Orlando had a television show, Afrobeat Videos. He showcased African music on the show as usual. The record labels will send videos straight to him and he used three to four tapes at that time. Anyway, Salief Kieta came to Bay area and fans knew him because of Orlando’s show.
In the concert hall when Salief came out. I jumped up and proceeded down the aisle. An usher stopped me and said this is not a dance event. Salief stopped the music to tell the ‘oyibo’ to leave me. We must dance! Ah! Come and see how everyone got up and began to party. At the end of concert, he was greeting everyone from stage. When he got to me he pulled me on stage and that was it! We danced for another 15 minutes.
We see Salief a lot on the road. He questions why he does not see Orlando in Nigeria when he comes. He also wants to record with Orlando. Another time was with Carlos Santana, he personally picked Orlando to perform in Hawaii one year. It was very nice to put a Nigerian flag because of Orlando.
The next year, a friend of ours who runs a charity called ‘Kids to the Country’ in Tennesee wanted to meet Carlos to invite him to play. She knew we performed with him, but I said he might not remember me but would remember Orlando. Orlando was busy in the studio and could not go. So we set off to Birmingham from Nashville. By the time we got there, the show was almost over. I squeezed myself to the front and a lady pushed me. He saw me and immediately asked me on stage. His guys pulled me up on the stage and they remembered me. Carlos did not remember of course.
Anyway, there were two ladies drunk on this high stage. I grabbed their hands, got in the middle and danced with them then tried to escort them off the stage. He told me to stay and dance! I had on a wrapper. I danced , he played got on his ones and played guitar while I danced. He was trying to figure out who I was. He told me after the show that I reminded him of Ghana soul to soul and when he saw me jump in the audience to help save the day because of the two ladies that had too much to drink, it was very special because I grew up listening to his music and here I am on stage with him doing what I did as a child.
Dancing with Orlando every time is special because he is such a good dancer and he makes dancing fun.
I understand you prepare Nigeria’s dishes including pounded yam very well. How did you learn this?
I cook and learn. I love to cook anyway. Orlando taught me how to make stew first, you know he was a bachelor for a while plus he loved his mommy so he is a good cook.
Aside being wife of the legend, Orlando Julius, a dancer, a songwriter and a singer, who is Latoya Ekemode?
Who Am I? I am still discovering. I am a wife, mother, grandmother, auntie, sister, friend with very few friends. Creative.
Any regrets practicing in Nigeria?
Yes and no. I regret missing my family, but at least I see them more now. I want them to come see Nigeria to see Africa, will work harder on that. As for me, I will be marking 19 years here although, I spent four years in Ghana. I have crafted my art more. I have learnt a whole lot about real life, seen things that are unexplainable to some.
My godfather, late Ambrose Campbell told me I would see Africa and I thought that would be nice, I did not know my destiny was to live here.
I have big dreams of what more to do for my life and my loved ones. I do not have what you would call family here. At home, we interact, support and love each other. Here it is different because my family is not around. But we are working on that.
Can you share with us your life as Orlando Julius’s wife?
No. I will not share me and my sweet husband’s life with you. As you can see, we have been together for a couple of decades, so far so good. We work, love, pray, enjoy and share life together. We are great trusting friends.