Google Celebrates Late Nigerian Singer And Actress, Christy Essien-Igbokwe At 58

By Eyo Nse,

Today Google is celebrating Nigerian sensational singer and actress, Christy Uduak Essien-Igbokwe who died on June 30, 2011. Until her death she hailed from Akwa Ibom.

Her posthumous birthday is always celebrated on 11th November.

Below Are Facts You Need To Know About Her;

Google Celebrates Late Nigerian Singer, Christy Essien-Igbokwe

Christy Uduak Essien-Igbokwe MFR (11 November 1960 – 30 June 2011) was a Nigerian musician and actress. In her life time, she was sometimes called Nigeria’s Lady of Songs and was known for her song “Seun Rere”. She was the first female president of the Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria (PMAN). She was also the chairwoman and managing director of Soul Train entertainment limited.

Essien-Igbokwe sang her songs in Igbo, Ibibio, Efik, Hausa, Yoruba as well as in English. Essien’s fluency in Igbo, Hausa, Yoruba, English and her native Ibibio earned her an appeal which cut across tribal lines.She died in an undisclosed hospital in Lagos.

Early life
Essien-Igbokwe was born in Okat, Onna Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria. She lost her mother at the age of 12 and her father in 2005. Growing up she lived in Aba, Abia State with her late mother’s friend who encouraged her singing career and bought her a fairly used cassette player to record her songs.

Essien-Igbokwe began her musical career in Secondary School singing at various clubs such as Uka Onu’s Club and Unikoko in Aba, Abia State. She featured on a programme called ‘Now Sound’ on the Nigerian Television Authority Channel 6, Aba . During that time, a show called ‘The New Masquerade’ was also airing on the same station . During a taping of one of the show’s episodes, she corrected a cast member who rehearsed his lines incorrectly, thereafter she was offered a role in the series. In 1976 she joined the cast of ‘The New Masquerade’and played the role of Akpenor, the wife of the cantankerous character, Jegede Sokoya (played by Claude Eke).Her role on that popular show put her in the limelight and in 1977 she launched a professional music career by releasing her debut album called ‘Freedom’. Many of her albums became hit records, but none came close to the success of her 1981 hit album ‘Ever Liked My Person’ produced by Lemmy Jackson.

Google Celebrates Late Nigerian Singer, Christy Essien-Igbokwe
Christy Essien-Igbokwe

Always at the forefront of issues affecting women and children, she played roles in some of the early Nollywood flicks such as ‘Flesh and Blood’ and ‘Scars of Womanhood’, both of which addressed issues of child abuse and female circumcision. With a desire to make life better for Nigerian artists,she is credited as having initiated the first meeting that brought about the formation of the Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria in 1981. A year later, the association was founded and King Sunny Adé became the president with the late Sonny Okosun serving as his vice, while she was the national treasurer. Between 1996 and 1999, she became the first female president of the association. The Akwa Ibom born performer featured in many national and international shows and also had the honour of composing and performing what would later be known as her state’s informal anthem, “Akwa Ibom Mmi (My Akwa Ibom)” in 1987, its year of creation. She operated a shop in Etinan, her native town in Akwa Ibom State where she sold printing machines.

Some Of Her Other Outstanding Achievements
FORMATION OF PMAN: With her ideas and husband’s support, she recorded the feat as the brain behind the formation of the only recognized national (union) body for musicians in the country, aptly called Performing Musicians Employers Association of Nigeria (PMAN) in 1982. It is meant to cater for the welfare and protection of Nigerian musicians and their rights, nationally and internationally. When the Union was heading for extinction, she was dragged to head it so as to revive her baby. This culminated in her serving as PMAN President for two terms and remains, till date, the only female so far to have headed a trade union in Nigeria.
FORMATION OF PMRS: She is a founding member of the Performing and Mechanical Rights Society (PMRS) of Nigeria and was the Chairman of the Board for two consecutive terms; becoming the second female to head the Society – after Chief (Mrs.) Keji Okunowo. The society is majorly concerned with the general responsibility of negotiating, collecting and distributing royalties on behalf of musical copyright owners who are mostly its members.
ABROGATION OF OFFSHORE/ONSHORE OIL DICHOTOMY: It is on record that what the littoral State in Nigeria are enjoying today is as a result of the abrogation of the obnoxious onshore and offshore oil dichotomy which was made possible by God through Christy’s final push. She mounted campaign of persuasion that saw the regime of General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida initiate and abrogate the dichotomy; thereby putting paid to the struggle that lasted decades.
SUSTAINED EXISTENCE OF THE FRSC: It was through her interventional effort that the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) remains today as separate entity. When it was planned for scrapping or merging with the Nigeria Police Force, she brought pressure to bear on the Federal government and thus the FRSC was spared till today. This again was during the tenure of Military President Ibrahim Babangida.
PRIVATE TELEPHONY: It is a fact that granting license for the private telephony started from the regime of late General Sani Abacha. Christy had to intervene by pushing forward the idea that the world is fast changing in telecommunication. The idea came to her when a private telephone company (EMIS) that had its equipment and staff ready approached her with their predicament as a result of license denial. She fought this and thus EMIS became the first privately licensed telecommunication company; others then followed with ease.

Google Celebrates Late Nigerian Singer, Christy Essien-Igbokwe
Christy Essien-Igbokwe

Later life and Death
Close to the time of her death, she was involved in private business, running the non-governmental organisation “Essential Child Care Foundation” involved in child welfare needs and rights as well. Her recent public outings include the Inspire Africa Benefit Concert in January 2009, where she performed alongside her son Kaka and the MTN Musical Festival, a musical show of old and new-breed musicians in 2009.

Her second son, Kaka is also towing the music line. He is a hip hop artiste and producer. One of her earliest albums ‘Ever Liked my Person’ sold above platinum till date. So popular was one of its hit songs ‘Seun Rere’, that a number of African countries have sung their own version. The singer intended to spend the day with the less-privileged children as she has always done over the years. Essien-Igbokwe died on 30 June 2011 after a brief illness.

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