Body & Soul

How I wooed Uche Ogbodo to be my wife –Bobby Maris

Florentus Ifeanyi Bobby Ugwoegbu, popularly known by his stage name, Bobby Maris, is the husband of Nollywood actress, Uche Ogbodo. The union has generated a few criticism because of the age difference between them. The couple, however appear to have paid less attention to talks about age and have focused on their immense love for each other. Before getting married to the popular actress, Bobby Maris had also built his music career as a recording artiste. He has a few singles and few shows to his credit. In this interview with IFEOMA ONONYE, the charming singer and songwriter tells the story of how he discovered his music talent and how he fell in love with his wife. The young father to two daughters shares a his view about being a good dad and what it takes to nurture another human being as a father.

Can you tell us how you discovered your talent in music?

It goes as far back as I can remember. As a kid growing up, at age four precisely, whenever I went to church with my parents, I always went to the section of the choir. I would always sit down with the choir at such a tender age. So, my mum noticed it and took me to the church choir at age 5. At age 7, I was already a major chorister in the choir. At age 10, I was in JSS 1 at The Austica Memorial College, where I was asked to join the choir. I was discovered because I was singing in the bathroom. You know that back then in school, since it was a missionary school, seminarians walked about to inspect the students. So, that fateful day, while I was having my showers, one of the seminarians heard me singing and made me join the choir. So, I joined the school choir at age 10, and that was JSS 1 first term. In the second term, I was made the choirmaster. I was teaching people who were older than me in the choir because of my singing prowess and my ability to sight sing. To sight-sing means, I can read solfa notation. I have been in the choir all through the school and all my life. Right from JSS 1 till I left Austica Memorial College and went to Federal Government College, I headed their choir there too; the Catholic choir, and that continued until I left secondary school. Even down to my university days, and after my university days, I decided that I would pursue music. This thing called music is spiritual. It keeps disturbing you and it is always in your head. Even if you do not want to do it professionally, it keeps pushing you to go after it and I said okay fine, I would go after my passion. So, that was how I landed a music career.

When you found out you can sing, what was your first move to making your kind of music reach your audience?

Well, the first move was a couple of sleepless nights, hard work, being consistent, and persisting. Music is not something you start today and you become successful at it today. Music is a journey. It could take you years and it could take you months. It depends on your financial willpower and your talent. Some people have the talent without the finance, and some people don’t have the talent but have the finance. You need both for you to be successful. Although mine was a case of persistence.

Everyone has a story about their growing up back in the days. What was your childhood like back in secondary school days?

I grew up in a middle- class family. My dad is a University professor and my mum has a Ph.D. and both of them are University lecturers. Growing up, I was the last in a family of five and I just grew up like every normal kid. We started from a middleclass neighbour- hood. It was a regular Nigerian family. Like I said earlier, I joined the choir at a very tender age, by age 5 everything that had to do with the children’s choir, I was already in charge. By age eleven, I was already a choirmaster teaching people older than me. You could imagine a JSS1 student teaching the Senior Secondary students, i.e, SS1, and SS2 students. That was basically what my childhood was like. I didn’t lack anything. My parents made sure I had everything that I wanted from school fees to clothing, shelter, toys, and I didn’t lack anything growing up. I thank my parents for providing everything for me.

Were you a popular guy back then? Did you mesmerize your classmates with your singing talent then?

I was quite popular, and envied too, because in Austica Memorial College, as a choirmaster, all I did from when I woke up in the morning is to sing. The only chores I did was to sing and to teach people how to sing, which was more like a hobby to me, and we were having fun. It was not a hectic thing to do. That was not the case for everyone. For others, when they would go to the chapel late, they would be punished but I enjoyed some sort of immunity. So, we, the choirmasters, were envied because we enjoyed some liberties and privileges. At Federal Government College, I was also famous, and I had fun. In fact, I was one of the fairest and you know the northern part of the country doesn’t really have a lot of very light-skinned people. So, I was famous because many people thought I was a half-cast.

So far, how many albums or singles have you released?

As of the moment, I do not have any albums released yet but I have five official singles; the last one I released is called ‘Better Days’ by Bobby Maris. It is out on all platforms and it is a song about hope, perseverance, and success. You guys should check it out. It is basically a song about ‘Hope’; that no matter what you are going through, always believe and you will get to where you are going as long as you believe.

Are you signed to any record label presently?

No. I am not signed to any record label and I am open to record labels signing. This is because my kind of music never dies. It is the music that cuts across all age groups. I am open to any record that wants to pen a deal with me. I have always been an independent artist from day one till now. I have about two music videos that I shot in South Africa, ‘ Anita’, and it was independently sponsored. I have other songs like ‘Dance’ which I did with Selebobo, and I shot it here in Nigeria and it was independently sponsored. Music is a super capital-intensive business but I am open to investments. I am open if record labels want to sign me.

You are a doting father to your children. Have you always wanted to be a dad?

Definitely, I grew up in a very functional home. My grandmum was a very respectful and loyal wife to my granddad. So, growing up, seeing that kind of family setting, made me to always want to be a responsible dad. And my parents were like the best parents ever. Interestingly, growing up, I had never seen my parents argue loudly up to date; not to talk of fighting. So, when you grow up in a balanced home, it gives you this mental stability that whatever life throws at you, you can test it without violence and anger, and you can always make things easier for yourself. So, I have always wanted to be a good dad to my kids and do the best that I can, just like my parents did the best for me.

What would you say is the most interesting and challenging thing about being a dad?

The most interesting thing and challenging thing about being a dad are not entirely about the finances. The financial part of it is there. Yes, because you now have a little human you have to take care of but there is the emotional and mental part of it. Everybody can be a father but not everybody can be a dad. Being a dad requires you to be emotionally, financially psychologically, and mentally ready. A dad has to be mature and fully grown for him to be capable of nurturing another human being into becoming someone in life. You can not be unbalanced and want to balance another human being, and that is the challenging part of it. The finances are important, yes; the sleepless nights are there too but it’s a responsibility you will love for the rest of your life.

When you fell in love with your wife, actress, Uche Ogbodo, were you at any point afraid of what people would say because she is older than you?

As I said, I come from a very balanced home. So, I am emotionally stable when it comes to relationships with the other gender. Age has never been my problem because I was trained to not border about what people think about you. My parents trained me in a way that I don’t care about other people’s opinions in my life and I don’t let people’s opinions determine my life. It was never a problem. I was the one that went after her. I did what I had to do as a man approaching a lady. We went on a lot of date nights. So, I didn’t care about people’s opinion and I was never afraid of their opinion then and now.

Did any of your friends tease or mock you because of the age gap?

Not at all. Like I said, I do not give people the opportunity to tease or mock me. There is what is called carriage and selfrespect because respect is reciprocated. When you meet someone and you respect the person’s boundaries, the person would be bound to do the same to you. Nobody is perfect and when you don’t tease a person about his or her own thing, the person cannot tease you. Age is not the problem and it has never been the problem for me. I had always preferred older women, The reason is that they are more mature and I think I am more mature than my female age mates, and none of my friends has ever teased me about my marriage.

What inspires your kind of music?

I get my inspiration for my kind of music from everything around me; from nature, from my life’s experiences, emotions, anger, pain, and joy. Sometimes, when I sleep, I wake up with music playing in my head, like my song “Anita” was a song that I just woke up and it was singing in my head and I penned it down and recorded it on my phone before we could develop it. So, basically, I am influenced by anything and everything around me. It is just a gift.

When did you land your first show on stage? Were you nervous?

I was never nervous because I have always been singing all my life and I have been at the forefront. As I said, I was a choirmaster, not just a chorister. I was not just singing. I was teaching people how to sing. So, being on stage, I don’t get scared. I just do my thing the way I feel I would be connected to my fans.

What are your views about the current election?

I will first start with congratulations to the winner, Bola Ahmed Tinubu. I am proudly an ObiDient, and I believe that the election wasn’t free and fair because if the elections were to be free and fair, Peter Obi would win hands down. But Politics is a game of cheers and a game of masters. It depends on the best at the game to win but whatever happens congratulations to Mr. Tinubu. I am also looking to see what happens next because Mr. Peter Obi said he is going to court. If he wins, I would be really happy. If he doesn’t, then congratulations to Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

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