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Christy Essien-Igbokwe

MFR FICA
Christy Essien Igbokwe.jpg
Christy Essien Igbokwe
Background information
Birth name Christiana Uduak Essien
Also known as
  • Nigeria's Lady of Songs
  • Akpenu
  • Mummy Seun Rere
  • Adaha Onna
  • Akwa Ikwo Eket
  • Aha Nwanyi Ejiagamba 1
Born (1960-11-11)11 November 1960
Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria
Died 30 June 2011(2011-06-30) (aged 50)
Lagos
Genres R&B Soul High Life
Occupation(s) Singer-songwriter, actress
Instruments Vocals
Years active 1970–2011
Labels
  • Apex Entertainment
  • Soultrain Entertainment
Associated acts

Christy Uduak Essien-Igbokwe, MFR (11 November 1960 – 30 June 2011) was a Nigerian musician and actress. Called "Nigeria's Lady of Songs", she was known for her songs "Seun Rere" Tete Nula, Ife, Hear the Call and Give me a Chance. She was the first female president of the Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria (PMAN), and the chairwoman and managing director of Soul Train Entertainment.

She sang in Igbo, Ibibio, Efik, Hausa, Yoruba and English. Her fluency in Igbo, Hausa, Yoruba, English and her native Ibibio gave her an appeal which crossed tribal lines.

Early life

Christy was born in Okat, Onna, Akwa Ibom State. Her mother died when she was 12; she then lived in Aba, Abia with a friend of her mother, who encouraged her singing career and bought her a second-hand cassette player to record her songs.

Family

Christy married Chief Edwin Chukwunenye Igbokwe, managing director of Punch Nigeria, in October 1979. They had four sons (Obiora Chukwuemeka, Chinwuba Kenechukwu Kaka, Solomon Chukwukadibia Olubunmi, and Lucky Samuel Azubueze) and later three grandchildren: Elizabeth Uduak, christiana-igbokwe Christiana Chizaramekpeleamaka Ijeoma, and David which Christy never lived to see.

Later life and death

SOME OF HER ACHIEVEMENTS ARE:

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.

HER BUSINESS EMPIRE: This has spanned over years now. She is the Group Managing Director of her family’s group of Companies – Chuduak Limited, Soultrain Entertainment Limited, Chuduak Graphic Machinery Limited, Eagle Graphic Equipment Limited, Chuduak Properties, etc.

CHARITY PROGRAMMES:

Her Charity programmes dated back to 1980 when she started championing the cause of the less privileged in our society especially the Nigerian Child. This is also evidenced in her works such as:

  • Show a Little Bit of Kindness
  • Do You Hear Me Children?
  • Seun Rere
  • Hear the Call
  • Onweghi Ihe Ka Nnwa Na Uwa (Nothing is greater than child)

In fact Royalty from the sales of her past albums remains directed towards charity projects and the needy in our society.

The Lady of Songs has successfully and single-handedly pursued and executed charity projects in the following States in Nigeria

  1. Adamawa State (then Gongola State); where she raised funds used by the State Government to fence, equip, renovate and provide drinkable water and main pump to the State’s only rehabilitation centre (at Jada) for the handicapped.
  2. Rivers State; where she raised funds for the Catholic Children’s Home and Psychiatric School.
  3. Enugu State (then old Anambra); where she fully equipped refectory for the School of the Blind, Deaf and Dumb, Ogbete, Enugu
  4. Plateau Sate; where she raised funds through Command Performances to provide scholarship endowment fund for able-bodied and handicapped children of the State origin.
  5. Dedication of all proceeds from her tenth album to Essential Childcare Foundation’s coffer.
  6. She has scores of students under her scholarship studying in various institutions within the country (Nigeria) especially indigenes of Akwa Ibom State.
  7. Her Charity work does not stop in Nigeria
    • In Liberia before the civil war, she (considering how popular she was there) was the guest of that country’s government; to raise fund for improvement of the only television organization (then) during President Samuel Doe’s tenure.
    • In Ghana where she was invited to raise fund and also launch potential Tourism in Ghana that is still booming till today. This was in 1994.
  8. Every year to mark her birthday Christy distributes trailer load of furniture, food stuffs and provisions to various charity homes. Some of the beneficiaries are The Nigerian Red Cross, Modupe Cole, Old people’s home and Yaba psychiatric Hospital.

Christy was fully engaged in a Child care programme she tagged “Essential Childcare Foundation”. This project kicked off in 1992 with a National Dialogue involving Nigeria’s distinguished Speakers. The Foundation was legally registered and launched on April 30, 1994 with eminent personalities as members of the Board of Trustees. They are successful industrialists and professionals – Chief Abdulaziz C. Ude (Chairman), former Information Minister, Chief Tony Momoh (Vice-Chairman), late Dr. Simi Johnson (General Secretary), Dr. Muktar Bello (Auditor), Engineer (Mrs.) Comfort Ponnle (Treasurer), Mrs. Njideka Ezeife, Chief Austin Izagbo, former Chief (Mrs.) Helen Esuene and Chief (Mrs.) Christy Essien Igbokwe (Publicity/Welfare Officer). Before she died she spoke passionately towards the establishment of a “Half-Way-Home” – Centre for missing and disadvantaged children. It is on this pretext in other to carry on with the charitable gestures of THE LADY OF SONGS a FOUNDATION named THE CHRISTY ESSIEN IGBOKWE MEMORIAL FOUNDATION has been set up to keep the legacy of the legend evergreen. On children’s day the foundation organized an event for the less privileged kids from different homes with prizes given to the best kids. The foundation has organized several charity events and keeps her tradition of visiting homes on her birthday alive.

She died after a brief illness on 30 June 2011 at age 50 at Ikeja General Hospital. Then Lagos State Governor Babatunde Fashola, Onyeka Owenu, Bisi Olatilo (Veteran Broadcaster), Soni Irabor, Oritz Wiliki, Remi Tinubu, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, Aliko Dangote and Victor Uwaifo amongst others paid tribute to the singer. To celebrate the remembrance of the late music icon on 30th of June 2020, the granddaughter of Christy Essien Igbokwe " covered “You’re Welcome” from Disney’s “Moana“.

Awards and honours

INTERNATIONAL AWARDS

  1. “Silver Prize” Winner at 6th Seoul Songs Festival, South Korea – 1983
  2. “Grand Prix “ Winner at Neewollah Music Festival at Independence, Kansas, USA – 1983
  3. “International Special Achievement” Award of MUSEXPO, Acapulco, Mexico, 1983
  4. “Certificate of Merit” Award for Song writing and composing at the 10th Annual American
  5. Songs Festival, Los Angeles, USA – 1983
  6. “Audience Favourite” Award of International Music Festival at Baker University, USA –1983
  7. “Silver Prize” Winner at Second International Music Festival of Oklahoma University, USA –1983
  8. “Outstanding Performance” Award at the World Song Festival, L.A. Arts Academy, USA –1984
  9. “Distant Accord” Award at the FIDOF Festival in Hollywood, L.A., USA, 1990
  10. Honorary Doctorate Degree (Honoris Causa) Award in Business Management by
  11. Cornerstone University & Theological Seminary, Jerusalem, Israel – 2010
  12. Honorary Doctorate Degree (Honoris Causa) Award in Literature-in-Africa by University of
  13. Berkley, Chicago, Illinois, USA – 2010

NATIONAL AWARDS

  1. “Lady of Songs” by Nigerian Entertainment Writers – 1980
  2. “Star Performer” Award of Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) – 1983
  3. “Best Actress Runner-Up” Award for Excellence by silver Jubilee Committee of the Nigerian Television Organization of Nigeria (NTA) – 1984
  4. “African Music Mother” Award by Music Extravaganza’84 in collaboration with African Music Development, New York, USA
  5. “Adaha Onna” (Pillar of Onna LGA)
  6. Akwa Ikwo Eket (The Greatest Singer from Eket Community) by Eket LGA Authority
  7. Aha Nwanyi Ejiagamba 1 of Oru Ahiazu, Mbaise, Imo State
  8. “Golden Voice of Africa” Award by music Students Association, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife
  9. “Gold Award” of 25 Nigerian Celebrities – 1988
  10. “Certificate of Honour” by the Nigerian Union of Journalists, Anambra State Council – 1990
  11. “Certificate of Recognition” by National Film Festival – 1992
  12. “Service to the Music Profession” Award by PMAN on platform of NIGERIAN MUSIC AWARD (to Christy Essien Igbokwe/Edwin Igbokwe) for their efforts in forming and creating PMAN - 1988
  13. Special Musical Patents Decoration Award – 1994
  14. “Merit Award for Excellence in the Field of Music Therapy” by Medical Association of Nigeria
  15. “Award of Honour” by Nigeria Institute of Journalism Student’s Union, Ibadan Campus
  16. “Certificate of Honour” in recognition of her role as a woman of substance and her excellent performance in musical entertainment by National Association of Akwa Ibom Students, University of Ibadan chapter.
  17. “Grand Fellow of Nigerian Youths” by the Nigerian Youth Organization
  18. “Queen of Music International” Award by the Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioners, Lagos State and Degbola International Promotions – 1996
  19. “Outstanding Achievements Uplifting Female” Award by Youth Re-Orientation Movement – 1996
  20. “Merit Award in Honour of Care for the Nigerian Child” by Broadway International School – 2000
  21. “Award of Excellence and Outstanding Leadership Qualities” as PMAN first Female President -1998
  22. “The Best Dressed Female Musician” Award in the Patriotic Dress category at the Nigeria Fashion Show – 1997
  23. “Member of the Greatest Performers” Award in recognition of her immense contribution to the development and reformation of the world youths – 1996
  24. “Award of Excellence” as Matron of the Great Eni-Njoku Hall (University of Lagos chapter – 2000
  25. “Pacesetter Award” in recognition of her vision, initiator and organizer of the First ECOWAS Cultural and Musical Festival & the Entertainment Award – 1997
  26. “Lover of Children” Award in recognition of her contribution towards child social and welfare development in the society – by legendary Page Boys Club (Socio-Cultural & Humanitarian Club)
  27. “Member of the Order of the Federal Republic (MFR) by Federal Government of Nigeria – 1999
  28. “Defender of Children” Award by Interclassic Youth Forum (a non-governmental organization)
  29. “Outstanding Achievement in Entertainment Industry” Award by Top Celebrities Magazine - 2010
  30. “Merit Award for African Heritage” by The Gong African News Magazine - 2010
  31. “Honorary Fellowship Award” by Institute of Corporate & Business Affairs Management, Nigeria.
  32. “Nigerian Woman of Valor” Award by National Centre for Women Development, Abuja – 2010.

MATRONSHIP/EXTRA CURRICULA POSITIONS

  1. Matron; Eni-Njoku Hall, University of Lagos
  2. Matron; Akwa Ibom Journalists Forum, Kaduna
  3. Matron; National Association of Akwa Ibom Students, University of Port Harcourt
  4. Matron; Nigerian Youth Tourist Organization
  5. Matron; National Association of Akwa Ibom Students, University of Lagos
  6. Matron; Association of Beauty Therapy & Cosmetology of Nigeria, Lagos
  7. Matron; Worldwide Twins and Multiple Foundation
  8. Deputy Vice President/Vice Chairman, Governing Council of Institute of Corporate and Business Affairs Management, Nigeria.

POSTHUMOUS AWARDS

  1. Entertainment Icon” by West African Women in Leadership Conference (in Ghana) – 2011
  2. “Excellence in Outstanding Performance & Hard Work” by National Association of Akwa Ibom State Students (NAAKISS) – University of Lagos Chapter – 2011
  3. NOPA 2012 for outstanding contribution to the entertainment industry
  4. Essien-Igbokwe was known as "Lady of Songs". On 11 November 2018, what would have been her 58th birthday, Google commemorated her life with a doodle.

Albums

  • Freedom (1977)
  • Patience (1978)
  • Time Waits For No One (1978)
  • One Understanding (1979)
  • Give Me A Chance (1980)
  • Ever Liked My Person? (1981)
  • It's Time (1982)
  • Taking My Time (1986)
  • Hear The Call (1990)
  • Mysteries of Life (1992)
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