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MUSIC-Interview with Uwgu Henry Chukwunonso.

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Hello, I am really excited to have you here on unorthodox. More excited to have to discuss music. But before music can we talk about you. Please tell us a little more about yourself.

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Henry Chukwunonso Ugwu-  Musician and Founder of THE YOUNG AMBASSADORS CHORALE.

Thank you for having me on this platform. My name is Ugwu Henry Chukwunonso, an indigen of Enugu state, udi local govt, Ngwo community. I was born into a family of 6 (3 boys and 3 girls) of which I am the 2nd child, the first son. I was born on Nov 5th,’81. I had my primary school education at Bessie International School, Mafoluku, and my secondary school education at Ikeja Grammar School Bolade, Oshodi. I then proceeded to Yaba College of Technology, and read Graphic design. I worked privately for a while but because I had a very keen interest in the aviation world right from my younger days. I had always wanted to be a pilot, to fly. I was discouraged by my parents.

After my graduation from Yabatech, I saw a good opportunity to train and become a flight attendant, (Cabin crew member), I immediately grabbed the opportunity and trained not only as a flight attendant, but also as a ticketing/reservation agent/meet and greet. Where I worked for two years. I also passed my grade five(5) certificate exam in voice from the MUSON grade exams, with a merit, and other relevant certificates.

What was growing up like for you? What will you say are your childhood moments?  What do u miss most about childhood? Did you start dreaming to be what you are now as a child?

Well I’ll say growing up was interesting really..And yes..at least I think am almost fulfilling my dream of work in the Aviation world and in other areas. I enjoyed my growing up..things were good “kind of” but not as bad and as crazy we have these days.. I maintain that children who are growing up in these times and age..hmm! It’s a pity. We just hope for the better.

If you are asked to describe music in one word, what will your description be? And why will you describe music to be that? And how did you come to believe that music is what you have described it as?

Music is knowledge, it’s training, it’s healthy, it’s has helped shape me a great deal, and also discover my self-worth. Believe me when I say this. Why? Because I have seen with my eyes how it has calmed people,especially youths who,naturally are restless,wayward,and so on..but really I marvel at their composure all because of their involvement in not just any music but classical music. It ushers you into a different world, it gives you a different understanding about music and entertainment generally, it helps you develop faster morally, spiritually, and also financially.

While growing up, being fully aware of all the genres of music, which genre did you grow your interest in? did you role models or mentors? Who were they?

There are different genres of music, but because I joined the church choir, and most of the choir’s repertoire were all classical based, and the teachers or trainers so I keyed into it and developed around it. Some of my mentors are my close friends today, and we often go out for events together.

Well, apart from the classical music, I also do contemporary gospel music, jazz, negro-spirituals, and African folk songs. My first performance was in a church concert, a choir festival precisely. It was my first time of facing a large audience, and  I felt as if I would be swallowed, I was very conscious of not making any mistakes,In fact I had many things to be conscious about while on stage but because I was bent on getting it right, I had to be composed and concentrate, and it all went smoothly. It was indeed a great experience, and from then on, facing a large audience is nothing. That’s why I maintain that music helps to nurture a great deal.

I guess interest gave birth to passion and you eventually had to follow a dream. What were the necessary steps you took to achieve this? And does everyone who wants to pursue a music career go through these steps or or there other paths to be followed?

First and very important, you must identify your gift of course, and what you love to do, be it singing, acting, writing, e.t.c..and then comes the next stage which is practice. This is very important because without practice, you can not know the details. The minute things you need to know e.g. music, you need to identify your voice range, type, texture painstakingly, from there through practice, the quality will build up. The most important thing to have is the willingness, the tenacity, patience, passion and you ll surely hit the goal. It’s a continuous  process.

Parents can be a very big challenge and even a hindrance to children who want to pursue their dreams as musicians. How did your parents react to your dream?

Well, my mom introduced me to singing- the choir. She wanted me to get busy..again because she was a onetime chorister, so she wanted continuity.So I went in, then my younger brothers followed suit with singing and played instruments.  But then, parents should encourage their children when they notice the gifts in their children. Not many parents sang in their youth,  but then, their children may have the gift.  No parent should kill the natural gift(s) in their children. I have heard about parents who say an outright NO to their children who are so passionate about singing especially, thereby discouraging them and this may eventually, in most cases make that child not even cherish anything anymore, even what they love doing on a good day. Parents should assist them by allowing then to attend practices, entrust them in the hands of a teacher or trainer they are sure of,and have made their findings about, or better still initiate home coaching or lessons, either for playing an instrument or singing which require voice lessons. When parents show their children that they are interested in their well being and development, that will surely bring out the best in them. It also will help them in developing quick mentally, and in  character, and in other aspects of their daily living.

What advice do you have for youngsters who want to gain the approval of their parents to do music?

For youngsters to gain the approval of their  parents, first, try inviting them to a concert in which you ll be performing. I tell you, when parents see their youngsters play major role(s) on stage, they become proud of them, because out of many youngsters..theirs’ standout. From then on..they will push you on. I have seen it happen.

I have seen you do classical and contemporary music. What is the relationship between these two genres of music?  And how can they be appreciated because we are in an era where hip hop and the likes have taken over. Very few listen to classical music. In fact, classical are seen as boring.

Music is about passing a message across. But today, like you said we have mostly hip hop all over the place. Yet, you can hardly understand what message is being passed on, this is gradually becoming a menace unknowingly to us. In Some of these music recordings, we hear vulgar words. Its a pity! And youngsters quickly grab on to it. Because I understand the genre of music I do, it is easy to fuse both classical and contemporary music. So, once you understand your kind of music, it will be easy to flow and you will know the right techniques to apply, and it can never be boring. And let me say this, each genre of music have their audience. I have my particular interests when it comes to genres of music.

Tell us a little about groups you have sang with. And also about music concerts. Are there seasonal concerts that we can look forward to?

I was a member of some choral groups, and choirs namely: The Lagos city choral, Life act choir. Some are extinct now. Presently, I have and run my own chorale group (The Young Ambassadors Chorale)  together with some of my friends, we grew up together in music, and I am also a member of the Laz Ekwueme chorale, Christian sings choir(non denominational choir/ NGO). Apart from the Christmas carols/and concerts, I normally have other engagements. So it’s really a very busy and interesting period.

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THE YOUNG AMBASSADORS CHORALE

What impact has music made in your life and how do u think we can also be affected by music even if we do not sing too or compose or direct etc.

Music, especially classical music has really, really impacted my live. It’s really amazing when I look back from when I started and where I am now, and where I am heading to, I just praise God seriously and give thanks to Him for this gift, because I know where this gift has taken me to, and the very important people I have come across and shook hands with, like former President Obasanjo, and his Vice, former President Jonathan, Enerst Shonekan, Yakubu Gowon, vice president Yemi Osinbajo, just to mention a few. This is to let you understand that it’s no child’s play-  Minister, Governors, uncountable, even recently, and business moguls of high repute, and monarchs. And it’s a continuous journey as long as  you know your onions. So it really has being a great, fruitful, and interesting journey and I give God all the glory, without him.,i don’t think all these would be possible and who I would have been by now, because now I can boldly tell you ” I have a direction, I know where am heading to”.

Final words to our wonderful audience.

Final words to my esteemed audience, fans, admirers, BE GOOD AT WHAT YOU DO, AND ALWAYS PUT GOD FIRST IN ALL YOU DO. YOU WILL SOAR. I love you all. Stay blessed.

This was really great and quite informative too. I did enjoy reading this and I pray you do too. More Importantly, I hope someone has been inspired. 

It is the end of the year already. This is my last Online Interview for the year. I believe that in the coming year, UNORTHODOX WILL BE BETTER. WE WILL ALL BE BETTER. 

Remember this too,I LOVE YOU. 

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Olawale Ayodele
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