Cocoa is to Ghana as controversy is to Mzbel – there is hardly anyone in the Ghanaian music industry with more controversies to their name than this lady.
According to her critics, virtually no week goes by without a case of “too much” body exposure being made against Mzbel.
Born Belinda Nana Akua Amoah, Mzbel started her music career 11 years ago; it was a time when the women in the industry dressed like men and minced their words.
But at 25 years, Mzbel launched her career with lyrics that only the legendary Daddy Lumba could sing and a dress code that none in the industry had ever imagined.
However she has some intriguing stories to tell about life before stardom. Some of these she shared with Weekend Sun when she fielded our questions recently. Read on!
What kind of life did you have as a child?
It was not easy but I didn’t know any other life so it was cool for me. I’m from a very poor background. I grew up in Jamestown; where people have a shower by the street, where you eat with no fish, where you sleep with no door, where you go to school with bathroom slippers and a polythene bag. But like I said, I didn’t know any other life so it was cool for me.
My mother loved me; she would make sure she saved some of whatever she ate for me to come home and eat too. So, it was okay until I got to high school and realised that there was a better life and then I started becoming timid and was even shy to say I was from Jamestown.
But now I’m proud because things that I saw growing up now serve as a testament to actually say I came from nothing to something.
Coming from such background, what was your aspiration?
I wanted to work with the media; to become either a TV or radio presenter but I ended up being Mzbel. We didn’t sit down to plan it but people loved it and so we decided to continue. I didn’t go to the university but I did a bit of production at Manifold Tutorial College and then I did two years at Ghana Institute of Languages because I wanted to study a bilingual secretarial course.
But I realized it was not for me. My daddy did not want to put me in the university because my step mother actually said I had done enough education because I had a lot of siblings. I wanted to but she influenced my dad. So I funded my studies at the Ghana Institute of Languages myself.
So, how did you become a musician?
In 2004, I was a production assistant, an editor and a producer at Hash Hash studios, which was a new recording studio. They used to ask people to do freestyles to try the machines once in a while; and they kept the recordings. When the place started getting busy they would play our freestyles as demos. With time people liked mine and kept asking when I was going to release a song.
So, the owner of the studio decided to give it a try; he convinced me to do it. I was very shy at the time and didn’t want to do it because I knew once I became an artiste there would be so much attention on me. But he convinced me to do it with the promise that I wouldn’t need to perform on a stage. So, I agreed. I then did a photo shoot for the album cover then it was released.
Few months after the song (Awuso mi) was released people kept asking for this lady who was so open and was singing about things that only Daddy Lumba could sing about. Then people started calling for interviews and shows which naturally I didn’t want to do but he still convinced me. At that time I loved to be myself; I was young, I was having fun and I loved being feminine.
How old were you at this time?
I was 25.
Your critics argue, and it appears true, that you made yourself a sex symbol even at the start of your music career. Why did choose to be the way you are?
I didn’t choose it; I like to be myself, I like to be feminine, I don’t like to fake or act up. I like to go on stage and be comfortable; I don’t want to go on stage entertaining people when I’m not entertained. If I wake up today and feel like wearing shorts and bra that is what I will wear. People know when they come that is what they would get and still pay to come and see it, then go back home and act hypocritical about it. So, this is me.
How did people close to you react to that way of life?
They were shocked because although I am a talkative I was shy. They didn’t believe that I would be bold enough to say most of the things I say in my songs. They never believed that I could actually go on stage and dance; show my tummy and cleavage. My sisters loved it, my mum passed away so I’m not sure how she would have felt but my father didn’t like
He went crazy but I didn’t care because at some point in my life he was not even there. With time he bought into the idea and even now when he sees me on the front page of a newspaper he would buy it and give me a call. The first thing he would say is Mzbel because he wants his friends to know that I am his daughter.
You said he wasn’t there at some point. Where was he?
I grew up with my mother. My dad is a Muslim and so he was married to three other women. I hardly saw him although he catered for me financially.
Let’s stay on your personal life for a while. When is the marriage coming on?
I never say never; maybe I would meet someone who would sweep me off my feet. But it’s not part of my plan now. I don’t think it’s necessary to go somewhere and swear that you own someone forever. It seems boring. If we love each other and we feel we want to spend the rest of our lives together, we don’t have to go and swear somewhere. Rather, just do it and have fun. It’s nonsense. If I love you and you love me, let’s be together and when we are tired of each other we go our separate ways.
You got pregnant and had a son out of wedlock. Was any kind of pressure brought upon your career?
I felt like I wasn’t ready but I had family and friends who encouraged me. And so, I decided to give it a try because I have three other adopted children. The only thing I was afraid of was the duration, the morning sickness and the labour pain and how my fans would take it. But I decided to give it a try and I don’t have any regrets.
So, at what point in that 9-month period did you accept the pregnancy?
It was in the fifth month but on the seventh month I regretted because I was tired and stressed.
What was the feeling when you finally had the child?
It was amazing. It was the best feeling in the world. I was so excited. I kept looking at him. I will do it again if I had my way. I wish I could do it again.
THE SUN | jimaima CHIME
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