DOZ Issue 39 January 2019 - Page 17

O mo Bello is a highly sought after French Nigerian soprano opera singer who is passionate about singing and has entirely devoted herself to music. As a young child Omo thought she would become a doctor because this was the expectation of her parents but as she grew so did her love for music, and when the time came, Omo chose music over medicine. After a degree in Cell Biology and Genetics at the University of Lagos, Nigeria, Omo moved to France where she studied at the Conservatoire de Paris. It was a challenging six-year journey in a country where she had no family, no friends, no acquaintances and did not understand the language. It would test her passion and love for music. She had every reason to quit and return home as some did, but she was determined to learn to sing and stayed the course until the end and graduated with a master’s degree. She holds a diploma in singing performance from the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, London and has been recognised for her singing, winning first prize at the Paris International Competition, amongst many other awards. So far, Omo has sung in over twenty countries. In this interview, she shares her inspiring journey of pursuing her dreams against the odds. As you read her story, I hope, and I am sure Omo does too, that you will be inspired to pursue your dreams and make sacrifices that are necessary to attain them! Please tell us about yourself, Omo, tell us where you were born, where you grew up, and what it was like. in a child is very tell-tale signs to the parents when it comes to talent and aptitude. In the case of music, that was the clear sign for me. I would eventually join the choir, later on, and the orchestra and take it up more seriously. But as a child, those were the signs. My name is Omo Bello, and I was born in Lagos, Nige- ria, that’s in West Africa. I grew up in Lagos, the typi- cal middle-class Nigerian family, in a quiet neighbour- hood called Yaba. My father is an architect and my mother a lawyer. So, we grew up in this sort of family where you were expected to follow in those lines. When I say those lines, I mean when asked what you want to be the child would have four or five options between lawyer, doctor, engineer, and accountant. So yes, it was that type of family, and I thought I would be a doctor. Awesome! But why classical music because, it is not a very popular genre of music where you come from. So why did you choose it and what support was available? Because to begin with, telling your parents you want to become a musician was not popular, as you said, you could only be an accountant, a doctor or lawyer, those sorts of things. To say you were going into music was difficult enough, so why did you choose that path and what support was available to help you achieve your dream? When and how did you begin to sing? My early memories of singing were from very young. All I know is I always loved to sing and so to put an age to it would be difficult because all the memo- ries I have of loving to sing were like all of my life. My mother shared with us this love for musicals from very early. We had those VHS tapes playing in the house, My Fair Lady, The Sound of Music, Mary Poppins, and Annie, later on. So, I was that child who would be glued to the TV, not because it was a film but because it was about music. I would learn all the songs, all the words, and I would go to the garden, pick up a stick and play out what I had seen (She laughs). So that was me. I would project myself as a singer in those moments, imagining myself on a big stage singing with lots of lights and cameras (more laughter). So, I’ve always loved to sing. I think that Very true. No child from a self-respecting family could say I want to be a musician (She laughs). That is tantamount to saying, I want to be a disgrace to the family (more laughter). So you are very correct. In my case, it was more or less a diplomatic type of move. I don’t know if I chose classical music or classical music chose me. There was that love for music that was always there. I remember having little encounters with classical music along the line like concerts of Luciano Pavarotti and the Three Tenors; those were first impressions on TV. And I remember this popular advert for British Airways where there was this very short but quite captivating duet; it’s called The Flower Duet, it used to air a lot those days on TV. So that was another little encounter. Another encounter still 17 DOZ Magazine | January 2019