American Born gospel singer, Nollywood actress Nikki Spooner in an exclusive interview with Adewale Adenrele of African Development Magazine speaks about her experience , challenges , lifestyle and insight in learning Yoruba , African languages and culture, also how King Sunny Ade has influenced her to become a singer .
Can you tell us about yourself ?
I am Nikki Spooner, I work as an MCNA (medical certified nursing assistant) I am a mother of two amazing kids and I also sing in Yoruba and act in Nollywood movies.
What motivated your decision to learn a new language and culture?
I fell in love with Yoruba culture after seeing an official introduction, I thought it was beautiful and decided that I will learn this culture….. the love for the language came in when I heard king sunny Ade singing merciful God and I fell in Love again saying “wow’ I have to learn this language.
How many languages can you speak fluently?
I can’t speak any language except English but I can sing in 5 different languages.
How do you sing in different languages, explain this?
Yes, Music is a love language and just like your kids will learn the lyrics to the songs you play in your car, I learn by listening and singing along practice! Practice!! Practice!!! LAUGHS!!!
Why do you choose African Language especially Yoruba language and culture?
It’s beautiful why wouldn’t I choose it.
Language is very essential for any culture to survive. Yoruba is a foreign language in America, how did you learn how to sing in Yoruba?
I studied by listening……. I played the music and wrote it out how it sounded to me. Then I practiced. It’s so interesting and amazing.
What are the challenges you faced while doing this and how did you overcome them?
The biggest challenge I faced was those closest to me expecting me to fail, or the people who said I can do it but I can’t ever do it well enough to be accepted. I faced the word of God and stayed focused.
What do you like about African culture?
Even with Everything America has, it’s amazing to me that all we lack in America is in African culture.
What did your family say when you decide to take up African culture?
I didn’t ask my family’s permission, I didn’t get opinions or question my own choices. I followed the voice of God and didn’t look back.
You also dress like a typical Yoruba woman, how do you get the clothes and the designers?
I met so many people who gave me cloth and sewed attire for me. Most designers contact me, especially during shows and events however I use sun-wealth clothing for all my fashion designs.
Do you have American friends who speaks Yoruba language or were you able to teach them the yoruba language ?
No American friends who speak or want to speak the language.
A Yoruba musical album was launched recently by you, what is the title, where can it be download ?
“O Nbe Sibe” is the title, was launched on May 14th in Ikeja, Lagos and it’s not available for download yet as I am about to do the music video ,then they will release together
Can you sing for me ?
I would love to sing for you. ““O Nbe Sibe” Oluwa n be…. 3ce
Have you met with Yoruba Monarch?
Yes I have, in fact I have been to see many. pure enjoyment.
King Sunny Ade Album inspires you to learn Yoruba language, can you sing the song?
I wish I could claim to sing all of them but the only one I know is “Merciful God”
Do you believe in Yoruba tradition, worshiping the deities?
I am so intrigued and interested in learning the culture and traditions sometimes It may seem like I am a believer, contrary to that I am a firm believer in Christ Jesus. I Love to worship and praise him. I believe that God would want us to learn everything we can learn while we’re here on earth.
What is your relationship with Chief Otunba Gani Adams?
Oh that question is simple as an amazing man, he is quite the leader and a great teacher of Yoruba culture and traditions. Because of my curiosity and drive to want to learn Yoruba culture I am grateful to have him as not only a Teacher but also a friend.
Are you a spiritual person?
Yes as a proud member of Redeemed, I love God. I love his daily presence in my life and I trust his judgment.
How long have you been in Nigeria and Africa?
I have been coming since 2000′ and I have also been to Egypt, DRC, Ivory Coast and Ghana and I love it…..
What can you say about NIGERIA?
I love Nigeria so much, it is my prayer that western worlds be reminded to teach their children where they come from with pride. It is my belief that even with everything America has all that we don’t have Nigeria does have it all.
Do u like to cook, what is your favourite meal both foreign and local?
I love to cook….. my favorites are diverse I love (African) Eba and efo rio, (Jamaican) curry Goat with rice, (Haitian) rice and beans with Goat and sauce (American) steak and corn on the Cobb with mashed potatoes (Italian) stuffed sausage manicotti
Eba (Cassava grains) and Efo riro (vegetables) is one of your favourite, can you teach how to prepare it?
Yes I can ……… in fact we should be filming this, when we do it….. Hope you will take me on a video to prepare it for Nigerians to eat.
How would you promote culture and tourism?
I promote it with the best form of advertisement “Word of mouth” I tell everyone about my positive experiences and I involve myself in all culture festivals and events involving culture.
Have you attended Nigeria festivals, what can you say about it?
I love them! I am always excited when I know festivals are coming….
How many tourist site have you visited in Nigeria and Africa?
I have been to a few places but never have time to actually be a tourist. I am always busy…. I really want to tour …Laughs …anyone wanna take me……….???
Do you wish to tour Nigeria with African Development Magazine to take you around?
I haven’t toured any sites but I have seen some with my eyes and a promise to go back……… wow …..if African Development Magazine wanted to take me around Nigeria as a tourist, I will be so honored and overwhelmed with joy!
What’s your secret?
I am in Love with GOD.
What do you value the most?
My relationship with God, and my relationship with my kids.
How is your relationship with your father and did he ever support you even when you decide to go African?
My father died when I was 14 years old.
Who influenced you the most in life and why?
My greatest influence in life is my Sister Denise and my Best friend Kiki and King Sunny Ade.
Is there something you stopped doing, even though you love it?
Everything in life has an expiration date, life is too short not to try it and move on to the next big thing.
What is the hardest lesson you had to learn in life?
That you cannot pocket God, he’s a big God. Yes He is.
What would you do tomorrow if you would become president today?
I would find a way to make sure everyone had an opportunity to travel and experience another country.
What is your most amazing memory?
The day my kids were born and the day I performed live on stage with my Yoruba idol King Sunny Ade.
Can you Mention a few of the Nollywood films that you have featured in?
Baba lawo lamerica ,Oyin ni ,Village idiot 2, Twins, Kowe, Osun….Just to name a few of them……….
Who are your favorite nollywood actors?
I love so many actors and actress and they are all blessed with many different faces it would be hard to choose between so much raw talent.
Are you single or married and do u wish to marry an African man?
This is a two part questions and the only way I can answer this is to say I am in love with an African man.
What is your relationship with Alh Wasiu Alabi Pasuma?
Pasuma and I were friends and we first met in America and then I was on set of his music video and then present at the same shows, then finally seeing him again in Nigeria after a long time. I am a fan and a friend. I look forward to working with him on a collabo effort.
What advice would you give your younger self?
“Life to the fullest, meet everyone you can and don’t ever look down on the people who look up to you.
Who are those that have supported your dream so far?
A sovereign God, My sister Denise, my children Fabian and Olivia ,my best friend Quianna, Redeemed Church of Christ Pastor Oni and his amazing wife. Nollywood and King Sunny Ade, My PA Joyce , Famed Music producer Mr. Julius Olagoroye (Julieking), Manager Seyi Allen, Mr. Moses Adeyemi and family, as well as Mr Jimoh and everyone who worked with me. Chief .Dr. Otunba Gani Adams, Oba Onimole & House of Assembly’s Hon .Babatunde Brimoh especially as cultural icons . I thank you for all you have taught me and I look forward to the promotions of Yoruba culture. So many people to thank these are just a few………