She is an Afro-urban singer/ songwriter who has been building a buzz in Nigeria.
The singer won the award ”Artiste To Watch” by the award platform:Top Naija Music Award in Nigeria.
This was followed by another award for her first EP. ”E Go Better” which won Best EP in Belgium’s Amanda Lazman Foundation. She later was nominated Artiste of Excellence Europe by AGMMA2018 in England. Being a typical third culture child, Uniekgrace grew up dividing her time between Italy, Switzerland, the USA, and Nigeria, where she encountered many different styles and cultures. These rich experiences enabled her to benefit from a large palette of influences while defining her own sound.. Indeed, it is by blending Nigerian Afro -culture with soul/jazz that the now Belgium -based singer found the most suitable sound to carry her message of hope. ” Seeing people happy and smiling is highly rewarding and I’m glad I can do that with my music” said Uniekgrace.
My name is Funke Ojo- Emessiri, popularly known as Uniekgrace. I am a gospel afro-music singer and songwriter. I am a registered nurse by profession but the art of expressing myself musically is my truest passion. Music to me, is life. It is tool for a get-away from normal everyday stress. It is also a tool for me to communicate with people who need a pick-me-up-with-good-message with a melody. To me, music is a spirit. You can use it to attract positive vibes as well as negative vibes but I choose to use it to attract the positives. I am what you call a third culture kid.
I grew up outside of my birth countrybecause my father worked with the government as a diplomat representing Nigeria. I was born in Nigeria, West Africa, but I spent my developing years in Italy, Switzerland, and America (Philadelphia, Baltimore, Arizona and New York). While growing up, I predominantly listened to Rap and Hip hop music. My idols were Redman, Method Man, Lauryn Hill, and Mary J. I also listened to Christian rap by Ambassador and the Cross Movement and interestingly enough, classical music from the likes of Beethoven and Mozart.
With all my traveling, nothing prepared me for the cruel world of people taking advantage of young, naïve girls. I say this because, at the age of 15, my father finished his diplomatic assignment in Switzerland, and it was time to go back to Nigeria. Together with me, my parents decided to send me to America to continue my studies for my higher education. My first summer alone in the city of Baltimore, a family friend took advantage of me. He was 25, I was 16. He drugged and raped me. I remember that day vividly. When I managed to find my way home, I took the longest shower of my life, just hoping I could wash away the wrong that had been done to me. I did not have the courage to tell anyone because I immediately blamed myself for it. It did not help matters when the first time I did consult a friend, he asked me what I was wearing, as if I woke up that day and decided to dress like someone that desired to be raped. Nevertheless, I did ask myself why I was wearing jeans and a t-shirt, and not a dress that covered me from the neck all the way to my toes. I tried a call for help a couple of times; I attempted suicide by overmedicating in combination with alcohol. It did not work. I woke up in a hospital bed, back to where I left off my life.
From that day on, I moved away from many things that I loved to do, except for music. Unfortunately, I became distant from my friends. I had friends and was friendly, but I wasn’t personal with anyone. I was a withdrawn little girl but interestingly enough, I managed to master the skills of humor.
I used humor to cover up my pain, and I believe I did it very well. Everyone saw me as outgoing and considered one of the “coolest girls on campus.” Everyone wanted to be my friend and I did not have the courage to turn anyone down. I respected people because I had seen that the world is a selfish and inconsiderate place but I didn’t want to play along. I managed to remain sane and considerate of other peoples’ feelings. I fell into a structured world, making sure I am aware of things that I do. I put all my effort into getting straight A’s in my education. I also became very competitive in sports and also obsessed with my looks. I mentioned being obsessed with my looks because what reflected from the mirror was different from the image I remembered of myself before the incident; I saw a fat girl who was not attractive. Somehow in my distorted mind, I believed I was taken advantage of because I was not attractive.
Excessive commitment to sports and consumption of diet pills were also in my routines. I did not want to see flesh hanging from my belly or my arms. I never wanted to be taken advantage of ever again, and I had to do what made sense to me. Also, because my parents left Switzerland to go to my father’s next posting, I found their distance from
elegance, confidence, power, imagination, and God-loving…
me unfair and that created more resentment towards them. I blamed them for letting me go at such a young age, and just didn’t know how to call them to confide in them.
God had always been in the picture since I was born into a Christian home. But yes, after the incident, I turned away from the Almighty for a short while. I attended church but I really struggled with my faith. I needed time to understand where I stood with God. I didn’t stay away for too long though; I needed Him to heal me. He was the only one I could talk to after all. I soon understood from preaching at church that bad things could still happen to good people. It’s all a part of life but I told my young self that I had to be more vigilant. I had a series of breakthroughs in the process of healing. I use the word “series” because healing did not happen suddenly for me. It truly was a process.
It took me ten years before I could confide in my parents about the occurrence. I am grateful however to God because this brought me closer to them. In a sense, I felt a relief because they owned up to their shortcomings, apologized and cried with me. For once in my life, I did not blame myself for the attack. I accepted that it happened, but I was able to even forgive my perpetrator after more series of the process on healing. These situations happen on a daily basis in our world and our society needs to spend more resources on the mental impact of it. I now understand that there is a spirit that causes one human being to see another and decide to violate him or her. There is a certain gratification derived from it and it is very destructive. Some victims commit suicide. Some are trapped in the moment of the attack for life, and can’t go beyond that event; thus the decisions they make in their lives are consequences of that traumatic experience.
For me, I am grateful because the very first song that I wrote introduced me into my ministry. It is called “Im a Survivor” A re-occuring statement from the song is “I come I conquer”. This line really helped me to remember that I am more than conqueror. I have written and sang a couple more empowerment songs. I am able to sit with victims of sexual abuse, ensuring them that they are more than conquerors. It takes a certain mindset and an environment to want to fight. However, it also takes support from loved ones to be able to rise up faster. I am now married with children and I have a professional career as a nurse. I bless God because I have been able to inspire people. My music brand has also attracted a collaboration with a foundation (AEF) that educates, empowers and supports young women and men. Through my music, I have been able to reach out to so many young ladies and young men who are facing the problem of self-identity due to one or two challenges. We should never give up because of life challenges.
Even though it took me a while to get to this point, I am enjoying my life journey. I could have lost my life that day. I could have received an overdose of whatever the young man put in my drink. I could have overdosed on the diet pills I was taking. I could have died so many times but God kept keeping me alive. Uniekgrace is brand of hope. I live to tell everyone we are all unique. We are all special. Never give up on yourself.