He has gait and exudes confidence everywhere he goes. Joe Anthony Ekpo, fondly known as Joe Blue could best be remembered for his peculiar dress sense during 2012 edition of Nigeria idol talent hunt show which many remarked was absolutely refreshing and sensational.
An embodiment of uniqueness and poise, the 24-year-old was able to prove his mettle with his renditions of both local and international songs which kept both audience and viewers spellbound throughout his days in
the shows. But little did anybody know that Joe Blue carried a heavy burden in his mind prior to his coming and leaving the Nigerian Idol show.
City Pulse caught with the cute dude during a mentoring programme for upcoming acts organised at The Empowerment Centre, Yaba, Lagos under the aegis of Evolve Workshops™.
L-R: Adebayo Folorunsho-Francis, editor of City Pulse; Tolu Adesina, one of the last standing housemates in Project Fame Season 3; Yinka Davies, a judge on Nigerian Idol and Joe Blue.
In an emotion-laden voice, Joe Blue shocked the listening audience when he started dissecting his life from birth, his unhappy childhood including the pain and agonies he suffered, what led him into the world of homosexuality, Nigerian Idol odyssey and his ultimate triumph when he had an encounter with Christ.
Also In attendance were Afro Jazz diva, Yinka Davies; 2010 MTN Project Fame finalist, Tolulope Abraham Adesina and Mr. Gson Ebuka, coordinator of Evolve Workshops™.
Below are excerpts of the interview:
L-R: Joe Blue and Yinka Davies
· Tell us a bit about yourself
I appreciate Jesus Christ and Nigerian Idol judge, Yinka Davies who I have come to see as my big sister. I was born into a family of seven and studied theatre arts in UNILAG. Unfortunately I couldn’t finish my study and had to drop out.
· What gave you the needed motivation?
Music! I have always appreciated music ever since I was young. It continues to give me unlimited happiness because throughout my entire life I have faced one rejection or the other.
· How old specifically is Joe Blue?
23 years! But I will clock 24 in August this year
· Growing up to be something you never dreamt about can be quite funny. What was your childhood fantasies like?
Well, I grew up seeing my siblings as perfect. Many believed that I was born by mistake and subjected me to a life of torment. I live a very unhappy childhood. I was what you could call a child of rejection while growing up. However, the stigma has turned out to work in my favour now.
Joe Blue with his spiritual father, Pastor Adeola
· Didn’t that trauma leave a scar on you?
It did! You see, I turned out gay because I found myself in the company of friends I couldn’t help mixing with. That was an era when people don’t talk much about this ‘gay thing’ unlike the way it is now.
· Are you still a gay?
No! I finally got transformed when I came across my current spiritual father, Pastor Simeon Adeola, less than a year ago. Prior to that, I lost my biological father three years ago. I was confused and knew I needed somebody to guide me because I wasn’t happy with what I turned out to be. How do I explain spending almost 23 years of my life as a gay? It was a terrible moment for me. After I crashed out of the first season of Nigerian Idol, I was seriously depressed. There was a time I told myself I won’t mind sleeping with anybody for N30 million or even go as far as getting a mark of the beast. At the time, it was one of those demonic thoughts I had as a kid.
That must have been a terrible moment for you, wasn’t it?
Yes, it was. My transformation was a personal decision I had to make. If I had not taken that step, I could have turned out worse. It was a time I even slept with three persons at the same time. Just as smoking, the addiction was too strong. Looking back now, I can say all the friends in my life were a waste. Rather advised against my lifestyle, they urged me on and contributed negatively to my life.
Let us talk about your spiritual father. How was he able to transform you?
At first, it wasn’t easy. But Pastor Adeola kept reassuring me that change don’t come if I don’t desire it. So I walked towards getting that needed transformation. That was how he brought Jesus into my life. He gave me a book to meditate on, observed my actions and inaction, talked to my soul and helped to study the Bible assiduously. With time I got to understand that Christ cannot help me unless I am ready to work with Him. In fact, Pastor Adeola taught me to change my confession from ‘I was GAY’ to ‘Now I am a new man!’ He understands me and can tell when the devil was about invoking the spirit of homosexuality back into my soul. He made me feel special and showed me the kind of genuine love I have craved all my life. Now I want to pray the way he prays, dress the way he dresses and prophesy the way he does.
Guests and Evolve workshop facilitators at the event
· You once lost out in your first attempt before gallantly losing out to Mercy in season 2 of Nigerian Idol. How did you do it?
My journey to stardom started years ago. Unfortunately, so many people turned me down including my big sister, Yinka (Davies). But I reminded myself that I am going to Nigerian Idol with the sole intention of winning. At first, my voice wasn’t clear but Yinka encouraged me. It was also the period I lost my father. Everything was just not going right for me. Let me say the journey wasn’t really a challenge but more of a fight.
· How do you mean?
You see, that time coincided with a period I was wrongly accused of stealing a man’s private part. It turned out to be a big case. In fact, I recalled sleeping in police cell for 5 days before I was transferred to Kirikiri. When I was finally discharged and acquitted, that was also the time I was recalled for the season 2 of Nigerian Idol. In my anguish, I vowed within myself that I won’t be deterred because I remember weeping like a baby when I was first evicted. As the saying continues, many still believed that I was an accursed child. However I received a lifeline when Jeffery (another judge on the reality show) called me around 1.00am and ask me to come back because I have been handed a wild card.
That must have taken you by surprise…
I almost died out of excitement. When I returned to the house, it was with full force. I threw everything I have into it. One thing I discovered early was that I needed to create a personality for myself. I create the design for my wears and did some crazy things so much that even Yinka kept telling me to push harder. At time point, I knew I could win it when the chips get to the final two contestants. What I have experienced so far taught me that there are times people will promise you all the things of this world just for you to sell your soul. My advice is, just stick to Christ!
· Now that you are a star, how do you manage your new found fame?
Unlike before, my management strategy has changed. I have learned to trust in Christ, not to run ahead of myself and become desperate. Also I have learnt that what you sincerely desire, you will get it. Looking back, I must confess that coming second at Nigeria Idol actually got to me. I felt like Michael Jackson. Stardom really got into my head.
· It has been said that success has many friends. Do you still retain your old friends?
No! With all I passed through, you know I can’t do that. I have cut away from old friends, because they are all gays. The fact remains that if you mix with drunkard, you will become one. If you follow prostitutes, you will equally become one soon. Unfortunately, I know not everybody is privilege to break away as I did.
· How do you describe music?
Music is life, passion and soul. I am a music freak. I see it as a god given gift and happiness for a sorrowful person like me. Sometimes I ask myself what would have become of me if I were not an artiste.
· What are your plans for the future?
I aim to teach transgressors the way of Christ is my dream. I have a lot of projects I don’t want to start mentioning here. The little time I have here on planet earth, I want to live in serving God
· Do you have a girlfriend?
Girlfriend? That is not even in my plan right now. It is not the ultimate, not even cars or money
· What is your regret in life?
Not knowing Christ early enough
Read the follow-up interview here
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