A Nigerian-American singer, Koleurz Koluchi Ifemesia, has shared her experiences with Parkchester Times correspondent, Moses Kuwema.
The talented singer is also an actress, TV-radio host, graphic artist, event coordinator. She also added responsibility of being the Queen of the US-based Ikenga Royal African Village.
In a recent interview with Parkchester Times, the Nigerian-born singer shared more about her musical journey, acting career and other projects she has been involved in.
“I have been in the US back and forth. I first came here when I was very young, five years then went back to Nigeria. My father was actually a visiting professor for different universities so we were always travelling.
"He was in Ghana at University of Accra; he was in Lome, Togo. He was in Zambia,” said Koleurz whose name is a combination of Ibo, French and English.
“I came back to the US finally in 1991. I have been doing music as a child since I was five years old. My first performance as a child was a stage play and a couple of other stage performances," she added.
Koleurz, a mental health counselor and psychotherapist by profession, who has been practicing for 17 years, said after her exploits in the church choir, she decided to go professional with her music career and has since performed at various arenas in the US such as the Javits Center and Westbury Music Center among others.
Koleurz, who has a band of her own, has also done opening acts for a few renowned musicians like Yolanda Adams, McLite, Wale and Sean Paul.
On why she describes her music genre as Neo-Afro Soul, Koleurz said this was because it was a fusion of new and old music.
“This is something very new and definitely interesting-a fusion of African Jazz, neo-soul, RnB with a hint of soul. The pockets of African languages thrown into the rhythms are a reminder of her originality that keeps listeners connected through her style,” according to Koleurz’s biography.
The release of Koleurz’s first album in the early 2000s, opened doors for many opportunities as she found herself producing and hosting her own Public Access Show on Cablevision channel 20 (W.E.ITV) where she hosted celebrities like Cassidy, Black Rob, Angie Martinez and Bobby Valentino.
Koleurz, who is musically inspired by the likes of Patti Labelle, Miriam Makeba, Erykah Badu, Alicia Keys and Christiana Essien has since featured at a number of events like the Brooklyn Caribbean Youth festival in 2009 which was sponsored in part by the Jamaican embassy, the Patience Ozokwor (Mama G Nollywood African movies at the Apollo theatre.
She also got an invitation as a musical guest at the American Friends of Jamaica Gala in 2008 at Gotham hall in New York City where former World Heavyweight Champion boxer Lennox Lewis was honored.
Koleurz has also performed at the United Nations for World Global Mission Initiative Project back in March 2016 and also works with a media and entertainment organization called Blaze the Mic NY, hosting TV shows.
In addition to the two albums she has released, Koleurz also has a single that was released last year titled “Better Naija and features Blaq Jerzee.
“Black Jersey, he is one of the top Nigerian musicians. He is WizKid's producer. I have another song with him that is going to be out sometime this year. I am looking forward to doing a song with French Montana.
I have another single that should be coming out this weekend. I have that single with Dj Shadow,” Koleurz said.
“I have also been in a couple of movies. There is one that has to do with human trafficking and sexual abuse-it’s called Love Traffic. I also have this other movie I am in called Silent Witness.
"It is more of an action movie about a guy that died and his spirit turns into another person. There is another movie we are doing called Leroy, it’s a hip hop musical. We are shooting that one right now. Most of my music is in the movie Painted Love.”
Koleurz said the US market has been very receptive of her Neo Afro-Soul music.
“When I started my neo Afro-Soul, there wasn’t really that market for Afro beats in America,” she said. “Afro beat market went up within the last four-five years. I am looking forward to more followership and promoting my music a little bit more out there.”
On the Ikenga Royal African Village where she is a Queen, Koleurz explained that, “we have the diaspora village here in New York. We do cultural presentations for anybody. We assist any of the artists that come from Africa.”
“The village comes with a full array of what you see from a basic village in Africa, maidens of the palace, the locals. We have done a lot of presentations at so many festivals, like the Ghana festival, African-American festival, African museum. When they call us we come out,” she said.
Koleurz said the idea of Ikenga village was conceived out of the need to remind Africans in the diaspora about their roots and culture.
“Every time you move out of your comfort zone to another place, you always miss home. Not only do you miss home, you miss your culture, things that you do, things that you love,” she said.
“Ikenga Royal African village is a diaspora village that represents all African nations. We have representation from different countries and Diasporas. When you see us, we carry the flags of so many countries.
"We have Caribbean flags, from Trinidad and Tobago to Jamaica. We are always dressed in African attire and we are always able to explain to anyone what our gallery means. When we come to an event or ceremony, depending on what the event is about, we do some cultural dances. We do things that we do back home and remind us or keep us aware of our culture. It is basically for cultural awareness and cultural preservation.
"We are available for anyone who wants us to grace their events, wedding, birthdays, or any cultural festivities. We are a community organization.”
Koleurz said she assumed the title of being a Queen because her father was a village elder back in Nigeria.
“As his daughter, I assumed the Queen ship here even though my mother is the Queen. There is a king, prince, princess, maidens, kinsmen, king guards, village children and village drummers,” she said.
“Membership is open to any African diaspora. All you do is come join in with us and we will help you out with the outfits. We teach you a few things. We ask you to educate yourself on any particular part of Africa you like. It is about African education and culture. We don't discriminate, we believe in one Africa,” Koleurz said.
She said Ikenga Royal Village is expected to have a festival sometime in September this year.
“It is going to be a two-day festival where we are going to be crowning a couple of Kings, Queens. The crowning ceremony is a representation of us being in the diaspora,” Koleurz said.
“We are not going to forget, to give respect to those that have been doing a lot in our community, those that have been taking care of us in our community. I want to say to Parkchester Times that we appreciate and respect what you're doing. Once we are able to know where we are going with COVID-19 then this festival will kick off.”
She said the festival would have African government officials, locals that are Africans and those from the Caribbean.
“My father is an African renowned professor, he teaches in a lot of colleges out here in the US. Being that he is a historian, he instilled in me the knowledge of my tradition. I am trying to teach what I know to others. I may not know everything because everybody is in a learning process,” Koleurz said.
She said Ikenga Royal Village was also planning a tour of states in the US.
Ikenga Royal Village is planning a tour of states in the US.