Teacher Spotlight: Edward Okougbo
Edward, who is known in the music scene as “EdWord,” is a regular host at The SoulHub (@TheSoulHub), a platform that showcases live music, poetry and rap in Lagos, Nigeria. He was also the singing instructor at the 2016 Orisun Summer Institute for Creative Arts.
How did you become a creative? At what point did you know that this is what you wanted to be or do?
A friend once told me that what people call creativity is really curiosity. I am a curious person, so if we are going by that definition, I guess I have always been a creative. However, it started taking shape from secondary school when I was exposed to more musical sounds and ideologies. I learned to ask the right questions and desired to express what I was learning through music. I basically questioned everything. Music provided a sort of solace for me. It was an escape from my harsh reality at that time. I was the youngest member of the choir and I would jump at every opportunity to take lead vocal. I also used to sing in a fellowship group at the University of Port Harcourt and I was sure that this was my path. I had peace as long as I was singing or writing. It got better after winning the first radio talent show "Who’s Got Talent" hosted by Gloria Maduka. From that moment, it became easier to go in this direction.
Did or do you feel supported in your current career by the people in your life?
At first, I didn’t really feel the support. I think it is tough for your family to watch you go on a different path from what you studied in school. It got better though, once I recorded some songs and put them out there. People heard the music and loved it. My family supports me now and I love them. I believe it will keep getting better.
What influences or inspires your songs?
The Nigerian society inspires my creativity, although it does so in a funny way. For example, one of my songs, Ifeloju, was inspired by a robbery in Lagos. I was robbed at gunpoint and lost everything I had. Months later, I wrote Ifeloju.
What is your day-to-day like?
Apart from being a music artiste, I am a presenter, editor, and producer at Digits1024Radio. It gets overwhelming sometimes, so I try to make out time to write music and come up with new ideas. I ride my bicycle every day, try to notice new things in my environment, try to finish a song, edit a program, or go to the movies.
Why do you think what you do is important in Nigeria or for Nigerians?
What I do is important because there are untapped expressions and realities in the country. We have succeeded in focusing on just a few things but we can do much better. There are so many stories to tell and I want to help tell these stories through music. We need to redirect our conversations and chart a new course for the next generation. I want to be involved in making that happen. Music is good for the heart and the soul, and it will help give Nigeria a new look.
Where do you see you or your work going in the next 10 years or more?
I have always seen my music as global. In the next 10 years, I see my work having global recognition. There are international bodies that I still have to work with. I look forward to putting out some international collaborations. I will work with the likes of India Arie, Lauryn Hill, John Legend, Lemar, Nosa, Tuface (2baba) Idibia, Mode9, TY Bello, Asa, Bez, IBK Spaceshipboi, and others. I look forward to performing at The Grammys and other prestigious award ceremonies and working with UNICEF, UNESCO, and similar organizations. The possibilities are endless.
What advice would you give someone who aspires to be in your position some day?
I would say that whatever you are today is not all you can be. Stay hungry. Do not let anyone tell you anything worth doing is impossible. You just might be the first person to do what others think is impossible. Never stop working on yourself. Seek to add value in your own way. God made you for a reason, so why should you second guess yourself when there’s a big price tag on you? The world needs you. Become YOU.
Follow Edward on social media or stream his music online: