“My relationship with Flavour” – Liberia’s Traditional Queen Juli Endee Talks To Nigerian Newspaper
In faraway Liberia, Queen Juli Endee, has made a name for herself as the country’s Culture Ambassador as well as the Traditional Queen of Liberia. However, she says that she is ready to take her music to the rest of Africa. Endee, who is also the Executive Director of Liberia’s Crusaders for Peace speaks to OVWE MEDEME on her journey so far, relationship with Highlife artiste, Flavour and sundry issues.
How did you become the Traditional Queen of Liberia?
I work in the community and because of my humanitarian services to the Liberian people, the traditional people in the 15th Political Subdivision in 2001 decided to give me three years to see whether I can live up to the expectations of the traditions and the culture and also, as an advocate for peace, health and education in Liberia. Based on that, I was crowned in February of 2006 at our historic site in Liberia called the Providence Island. All the traditional leaders and the chiefs, elders, women came together to say this is our Queen. This is the voice of the traditional people. So that’s how I was crowned the Queen of the traditional people of Liberia.
What do you do as queen?
I help in the developmental process of our people, and our traditional leaders. I uphold our culture and tradition in Liberia. I am a liaison to the general public and the traditional people. And also I help the traditional people carve out proposals and visions to maintain the development agenda of Liberia because the land is owned by the traditional people.
So what is your mission in Nigeria?
My mission is two-fold. I first came to give support to Semah who was featured by Flavour. That mission has ended and Semah has returned to Liberia safely. So right now, I’m here to finish my project that I started before meeting Flavour and then getting him to meet Semah. Because of the Semah project, I decided to let him go ahead because he is a kid and after that I will continue my project. My project is a music album that I’ve done with a lot of producers. I’ve also featured a lot of Nigerian big artistes. I’ve done a video and all of that. I came here to speak with the marketing agent and we’ve concluded on that. I’ve finished a video and it’s being edited so that it can be released to the public.
How soon are you hoping to launch the album?
As a social worker, I’m very known, but when it comes to music, I’m known in Liberia and certain parts if Sierra Leone and the US. I’m not known in Nigeria. Since Nigeria is the big brother of Africa, and being an advocate for the love of African solidarity in the West African region, especially ECOWAS, I want to crossover to Nigeria. I’ve come now to introduce myself to the Nigerian people.
Also, I’ve come to Nigeria to really appreciate those gallant men of the Armed Forces of Nigeria who joined ECOMOG to save Liberian lives in our country and those force commanders that have passed on. I want to extend my sincere thanks and appreciation to their families and the people of Nigeria for the level of support given us during the civil crisis in Liberia and for continuing to sustain peace in our country. I’m grateful to the Nigerian people. You are our brothers and sisters, and we salute you. So I’m waiting for this marketing process to kick off in terms of introduction to the Nigerian community and then I will take it up from there to give the actual date of the launch. But I know that in about two months, we will be releasing the album. In the meantime, we’ll just be sending teasers out so people will understand what we are doing because without a proper plan and a structure, you can’t be successful. And if you don’t know, you need to ask.
Aside music, what else would you be doing in Nigeria?
I’m here for music, but at the same time, i want to cement the relationship between Liberia and Nigeria from the industry perspective. The industry in Nigeria is improving greatly and we’ll like to tap into the expertise of those who have made it in the industry here to help a virgin industry in Liberia with youth empowerment. We are also networking and engaging experts for the youth empowerment. We’ll be having some seminars, some trainings, various workshops.
What is the title of your album and how many songs are in it?
I can tell you how many songs, but I can’t tell you the title. I could say this is the title, but it would probably change. What I can say is that I have ten tracks in the album and all of them talk about love peace, happiness, the beauty of Africa, beautiful women, what makes us different from others.
Which Nigerian artistes are featured in it?
First is the voice that I’ve been crazy about in Nigeria, and that is Omawumi. That’s my girl because she’s a straight shooter. I also featured Yemi Alade, and Jodie, the girl who sang ‘Kuchi Kuchi’. For the males, I featured Flavour in one of the songs and a host of others. I intend to feature more. There are lots of artistes that I like. One of them is Adekunle Gold. I love his music. I love Don Jazzy. These are the kinds of people that i really can jive with.
How long have been working on the album?
You know, before you can put out content or a material, you should first of all appreciate it and know how to defend it. You should make a justification and indicators when you put it out. I’ve been working on it for the last eight years since I did my last album. But within that time, I’ve done a lot of jingles and music for health education, Ebola and all of that. But those are just for humanitarian work, and to my credit, I’ve done over 800 of those kinds of works. I didn’t want to just do Liberian music. I want to crossover and do African music, so all of that had to be planned and that I’ve been doing these eight years. After recording the music, I couldn’t release it because the little boy was being featured by Flavour. I wanted to see his dream come true first before i could finalise mine. Now his dream has come true, thanks to Flavour for the love and the humble spirit that he has. I am now confortable to move on with mine.
How did you meet Flavour?
It was a wonderful. He didn’t know me, but I met him through Masterkraft. He produces most of my songs. A guy call OJ introduced me to a Liberian called Timothy, and then we went to the Liberian embassy and OJ took us to Masterkraft and I started the production. I wanted to feature some Nigerians but I didn’t know who. So he got Flavour for me. Honestly, i thought it was a joke. But then, he took me to Flavour’s house and I heard my music in Flavour’s studio, and i was surprised.
What was your experience during the war in Liberia?
I was in the US when the war started. But while people were running to the US, I was running back home. So it was strange to people and they felt something was wrong with me. So I came back to Liberia and I started advocacy. I visited different refugee camps, in different countries. I even came to Nigeria. It was in Nigeria that the ‘Liberia Cry for Peace’ and ‘The Crusaders for Peace’ were formulated, at our embassy. So Crusaders for Peace has been around for over 23 years, advocating for peace, health, social work, and elections. I’ve disarmed soldiers and now they are working with me to tell the story. It has been a wonderful experience doing that.
With your pedigree, do you intend to contest for elective office?
When you fear God and you seek his face like I do, and know that he’s faithful, he tells you your calling. As long as you deviate from your calling, you become a failure. So I will stick to the arts, I will stick to my social work and I will stick to supporting peace building in Liberia. Wherever He wants me to be, He will let me know and I will feel it because I know Him. I know Him for myself.
Are you married?
Oh yes, and I have beautiful children. I have biological children and those who are not my biological children and they are beautiful and they are my children.
How do you make time out for your family?
They like what I do. They sing, and they do production. My daughter fixes my costumes while my son runs around with the camera.