Christy Uduak Essien-Igbokwe
RIP (11/11/1960 - 30/06/2011)
Musician

Christy Uduak Essien-Igbokwe MFR (11 November 1960 – 30 June 2011) was a Nigerian musician and actress. Sometimes called Nigeria's Lady of Songs, she was known for her song "Seun Rere". She was the first female president of the Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria (PMAN). She was also the chairwoman and managing director of Soul Train entertainment limited.

Essien-Igbokwe sang her songs in Igbo, Ibibio, Efik, Hausa and Yoruba, and as well as in English. Essien's fluency in Igbo, Hausa, Yoruba, English and her native Ibibio earned her an appeal which cut across tribal lines.

Early life

Essien-Igbokwe was born in Okat, Onna Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria. She lost her mother at the age of 12 and her father in 2005. Growing up she lived in Aba, Abia State with her late mother's friend who encouraged her singing career and bought her a fairly used cassette player to record her songs.

Career

Essien-Igbokwe began her musical career in Secondary School singing at various clubs in Aba, Abia State such as Uka Onu's Club and Unikoko. She featured on the Nigerian Television Authority (N.T.A.) Channel 6, Aba programme called 'Now Sound'. During that time a show called 'The New Masquerade' was also airing on the same station . During a taping of one of the show's episodes, she noticed that a cast member was rehearsing his lines incorrectly so she volunteered to correct him and thereafter she was offered a role in the series. In 1976 she joined the cast of the 'The New Masquerade'. Her role as Akpenor, the wife of the cantankerous character, Jegede Sokoya (played by Claude Eke who died in 2002) on that popular show put her in the limelight and in 1977 she launched a professional music career. She released her debut album in 1977 called 'Freedom'. Many of her albums became hit records but none came close to the success of her 1981 hit album 'Ever Liked My Person' produced by Lemmy Jackson.

Always at the forefront of issues affecting women and children, she played remarkable roles in some of the early Nollywood flicks such as 'Flesh and Blood' and 'Scars of Womanhood', both of which addressed issues of child abuse and female circumcision. With a desire to make life better for Nigerian artists, she is credited as having initiated the first meeting that brought about the formation of the Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria, PMAN in 1981. A year later, PMAN was founded and King Sunny Adé became the president with the late Sonny Okosun serving as his vice, while she was the National Treasurer. Between 1996 and 1999, she was the first female PMAN president. The Akwa Ibom born performer also had the honour of composing and performing what would later be known as her state's informal anthem, "Akwa Ibom Mmi (My Akwa Ibom)" in 1987, its year of creation. The singer, who featured in many national and international shows, operated a shop in Etinan, her native town in Akwa Ibom State where she sold printing machines.

Nominated by Afam Nnaji

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