S’East musicians should break the Lagos-based-only breakthrough jinx – Tessy
Unoma Theresa Aniesi-Ngoesina, known in music circles as Tessy Aniesi, is a musician, entrepreneur and humanitarian, born and bred in Anam and chief executive officer, CEO, of Tessytop Productions. She organises an annual music conference in Anam. In this interview with CHIDEX ONYEMAH, she shares her experience with entertainment generally, especially doing so in the South East region of the country.
Your group has been organising annual musical events in recent years. Tell us what the experience has been like so far?
Our annual events are not limited to musicals. There are symposia designed to achieve “Value Reorientation” because our society is almost at the dead stage because of wrong values. Our events have cultural designs where we rejig, transform and reinstate our beautiful and unique abandoned cultures such as Ine-ezi (peculiar Anam traditional marriage) and Ịgba-mgba (indigenous African wrestling entertainment). The organisers are also deeply into medical intervention projects, charity towards aged and abandoned citizens and the vulnerable segment of the population, generally.
The music side of what we do seems loudest because that is the youth energy and that is what interests the youth the most. There were no such platforms for indigenous talents, rural talents and the voiceless before we were raised. We also give prominence to talents in areas like comedy, dance, talk shows, folklore, skill acquisition and health summit. These things and more happen annually. So, it is never a musical event alone but a whole good news.
In what ways has this event impacted on your musical career and life?
This event has impacted amazingly on my musical career as it has reshaped and influenced my writings and emotions. I write songs now with clarity and my renditions are more energetic and with conviction now more than ever. Because I have come alive to my messages than singing a fairy tale or what everyone is singing, I now bring my lyrics to life. And my life has been greatly influenced firstly by my teammates.
Honestly, the transformation legion I work with has made me know that there are more good people on earth than the bad people. Their sacrifices, their realities and beneficiaries have made me view life itself as a gift to be grateful for at all times and not take anything so seriously anymore or be anxious for anything. My life is better now.
What are the challenges you have encountered on this project?
At first, my challenge was selling my idea to potential buyers, like minds (potential volunteers to be my team mates) and clarity of this vision. It was a challenge because I saw the big picture but I didn’t know how to define it.
When I started, some misunderstood it to be Christian movement because of the word “Gospel”, so it was hard selling it to Christians who viewed it as starting a church, and selling it to non-religious fanatics who viewed it as having religious undertone. So, balancing this vision with defined purpose was a great challenge for me, coming from a Christian background; a Christian gospel musician then floating a movement that’s not limited to any religion.
Then imagine going to a potential sponsor who sees gospel and tag your vision a ‘church movement,’ then you start educating the person that gospel doesn’t mean church but good news. Then, in my heart I will be like (you are now educating whom you need money from; what if he sees you as knowing too much and how come you don’t have money to fund your idea), should I keep my knowledge aside to get funding or hide my knowledge to be funded? This was my biggest dilemma. Other challenges are human management and funding.
Who is bankrolling you for this event?
Because our charity started from home, our events were and are funded firstly by people of Anam. But now, donors and philanthropists from outside Anam have joined also in funding our events and projects. Sometimes, when we have event or project, but couldn’t get external funding, we will task ourselves through freewill donations.
What has been the response from your fans/followers since the inception of your music career?
My followers/fans’ responses so far have been positive. They believe and respond with their expectations which have not been disappointing as I keep improving my musical career with lasting substances without losing touch with my originality. They are my biggest motivation.
Who is your role model in the industry, local and international, and why?
I have partitioned my life in four parts. personal (private life), musical life, life of entrepreneur and humanitarian life. So, I have no particular role model in my private life; it’s strictly my chi (God) and the way it suits my husband and I. What works for Adaobi may not work for Olamma.
Musically, locally Patty Obasi and internationally CeCe Winans. Though both do not possess my full combinations because I’m as versatile as ever more than the two but I listen to them because they are lyrical gods. Deep life messages from Patty Obasi and vocal power of CeCe Winans.
I lately started following Bob Marley and Rihanna because of my love for Reggae Music. Bob is the greatest musical prophet to me and Rihanna is a vocal power house. I love and follow Rihanna because she sings, does humanitarian works a lot and she’s a business guru too.
How would you appraise the South East music talent evolution in recent years?
South East Music Talent Evolution in recent years has come very far and golden. We only need to break the jinx which stereotypes Lagos as the place for breakthrough or that if one breaks through in the South East, one must relocate to Lagos to belong. That is the remaining challenge. I see talents who have shot themselves up and out of the crowd in the South East still relocating to Lagos still. So, I asked myself why? We need more show promoters in the South East.
Entertainment content marketers’ associations in the South East should, as a matter of fact, relax some of their policies that prevent emerging stars from breaking forth into the market.
I have had experience with different marketers, giving me lists of organisations to register my music production outfit or album with before they can allow my contents to sell. Some registrations cost as much as
N250,000 and some less. If the music comes from the Lagos market, however, they accept it freely. I, then wonder: must I go back to Lagos instead of launching some jobs from East as I planned. These and few other misconceptions need to be reviewed for the East Showbiz to blossom more.
In what ways can government use this kind of event to discover and nurture talents?
Government can use this kind of event to discover and nurture talents through different established ministries and commissions. Such commissions include those of youth services and cultural activities, commissions of youth and sport, youth and creative industry, culture, entertainment and tourism commissions, ministry of humanitarian affairs and much more. These can, through this kind of event, discover real talents who hunger for and are passionate about their talents. They can pick them up for nurturing because these are natural deposits who, without payments, are coming out en mass to showcase what is good about them, the more so when they are picked and given more attention, teaching and training? They will do more and the energy we have, is the premiums that only goes for gold medals in international stage.
Let the government look at locally based platforms like this to fish in, for real deals. When this is done, they will not just be doing well for themselves individually but also be beneficial to the government and sources of revenue generation too.