28 May 2022
Progress Chukwuyem recently emerged the winner of music reality show, Nigerian Idol (2022). He tells TOFARATI IGE about his experience on the show and how he intends to navigate the music industry
How does it feel winning Nigerian Idol and being N30m richer?
It feels amazing. It is a very big achievement for me at the age of 21. I
am very happy about it.
What was your objective for participating in the show?
There was never a position I wanted to occupy. However, I knew I wanted to take up music as a career and there aren’t many opportunities in Warri, Delta State, where I am based. So remaining there would mean me being a local champion. Coming for Nigerian Idol was my springboard into the industry. My aim was to be in the face of people and sell myself. In terms of getting to the next round, I was very hopeful as I believed I had what it took to win the show.
Lagos is regarded as the centre of entertainment in Nigeria. Do you intend to remain here or go back to Warri?
I intend to stay (in Lagos). The opportunities are here and every artiste I admire and want to work with are all here.
While on the show, you got commendations as well as criticisms. Some people are of the opinion you did not maximise the use of the stage during your performances. What is your reaction to that?
I totally disagree with that. From what I saw, there weren’t a lot of negative comments for me. As regards not using the stage, I disagree because there was never a time the judges commented on my inability to maximise the use of the stage. I believe that if you are to count the people who had a great stage presence, I will be one of them. Those people who said I did not manage the stage well ought to watch my performance of ‘Bang Bang’ (by Jessie J featuring Ariana Grande) or my performance of Wizkid’s ‘Joy’. Moreover, not every song requires one utilising the whole stage.
What lessons did you take from the judges that you intend to incorporate in your career?
For Simi, she is a very unique singer, who has her own sound and style. One thing I learnt from her is staying true to one’s sound. She once told me I had a soft spot in her heart because she understands what it means when people put one in a box (musically).
D’banj is an amazing entertainer and performer who has been in the business for many years. From him, I learnt the ability to carry the crowd along in the best possible way.
Also Obi (Asika) is someone who understands music. His judgment is usually straightforward. When he sees a unique thing in one, he lets one know.
At 21 years old, how do you intend to make the most of your cash prize and the platform the show has given you?
I am 21 but I’m not a child. I know that winning a show like this comes with a lot of pressure and expectations. But, I am not in competition with anybody. What matters to me are my growth and progress, and getting better with each passing day. I will take things one step at a time. As regards education, I have plans to go back to school, but not now. Now is the time for me to establish the music career that I had always wanted.
The experiences of some past music competition winners have shown that winning a reality show does not automatically translate to commercial success. How do you intend to avoid the mistakes made by some past winners of such shows?
I am not in a relationship with any of those people (past reality show winners), so I have never asked any of them what the problem was. I am just going to try not to be like that. Before coming for the show, I had role models that I wanted to work with and with this platform, I will reach out to those people and try to work with them. I will learn from people that have been in the industry (for some time) and try my best to stay relevant.
You talked about being put in a box musically. But, the flip side is that you are not singing for yourself but for an audience. Are you open to modifying your sound to align with what the audience wants?
When I talked about sticking to my sound, I meant having a foundation because as a musician, I cannot be all over the place. I have a foundation and I will be versatile. Artistes have different feelings that music helps them to communicate. Though I have a gospel music background, I will not be limited in my expression, and I believe people will relate with it. I will be sensitive to my environment.
What had you done musically before participating in Nigerian Idol?
I do not have any song on any digital platforms but I have recorded some tracks. I write and look forward to working with other songwriters to make magic. Though Nigerian Idol is my first national competition, I competed in a show called ‘Gospel Rocks’ Warri in 2015. I contested another competition in music, dance and comedy in 2016. I won both and that was when I decided to take music professionally.
I plan to make the songs I had recorded before the show more professional.
Do you have a girlfriend?
No, I do not.
With N30m in your account, the ladies might be coming in droves. What do you intend to do about that?
I will just block them out. I am not ready. I am in a relationship with my career, and focus is on becoming a better artiste. They (girls) are already coming and some have actually sent me messages on social media, but I am not interested in that right now.
Which contestants and other artistes would you like to work with?
I am already working with Jordan (a co-contestant). He is a music producer and an amazing song writer. We are working on some songs together. I am also looking forward to working with other contestants when I get the opportunity. Outside the show, I will like to work with the likes of Jhonny Drille, Fireboy DML, Cobhams and Mastercraft.
Do you have any plans to invest all your prize money into your music career or is there any other business you are willing to invest in?
I will invest in my music because that is what is most important to me. Aside from that, I am also a fashion designer and I intend to invest in that as well, and establish a fashion line. I will explore other parts of the entertainment industry as well, such as acting and modelling.
What were the biggest lessons you learnt on the show and what did you not like about being on the show?
The biggest lesson I learnt on the show is that life is not a competition. When one is in a place, one should love oneself and everyone around one. I have also grown. The competition changed me and my music. It helped me to explore and venture into other genres of music.
Have your parents always supported your music career?
Always. My entire family was there at the live show and they witnessed me being crowned the winner.
What do you have to say to people who voted for you on the show?
Words cannot express how grateful I am (to them) for supporting me and keeping me on the show. I will definitely make you guys proud. I will never let you all down for lifting me up.