Get to Know NellysEcho from The Voice
A few days ago, The Africa Channel had the opportunity to chat with Nelson Ofagie Emokpae, better known as “Nellysecho” by fans of the television singing competition series,“The Voice”. From the start of Nelly’s “Ain’t No Sunshine” ballad, you felt his passion for music and heard his emotion. So did judges, Christina Aguilera and Adam Levine, who were eager for him to be on their teams (he chose Christina). Last week the Nigerian-born musician was eliminated and we know we weren’t the only ones sad to see him go.
Nelly was born in the densely populated city of Lagos but moved around a lot as a child due to his father’s position in the Nigerian Military. At the age of 15, the future “Voice” contender relocated to Baltimore where he would later study Psychology and go on to get his PhD in Physical Therapy.
You transitioned into music after working as a Doctor of Physical Therapy. Were you pursuing music in college?
Even when I was in college, you would never find me in the Psychology Department. I was usually in the Music Department.
How did you get a shot at “The Voice”?
A friend suggested that I go to NY and audition. I was on tour, but had a couple days off so I was able to make it to New York. It was almost like “The Voice” called me.
Did your parents support your decision to pursue music?
You know African parents!!! But I did what I had to do- they wanted the best for me and they are proud of their son.
How would you describe your experience on “The Voice”?
Grateful. I got the opportunity to appear in front of national audiences. I’m grateful that the show highlighted me as who I am.
Why do you feel you were eliminated from the show?
Well, that night De’borah performed the song better. That’s not to say that I’m not talented or I’m not going to be successful. It’s a competition and one person had to go. Success is my choice, not anyone else’s and I know I will be successful. I wish De’borah the best.
Who are your musical influences- both in Africa and in the U.S.?
My taste in music spans the whole gambit. I grew up in Nigeria and the States so I have so much respect for Fela Kuti, Miriam Makeba, Sonny Okusu and I also like the new school- P-Square, 2Face, Ice-Cream, Brymo. Have you heard some of Brymo’s stuff? It’s great! I also like Norah Jones, Jason Mraz, U2, The Police…etc (there’s a lot more)
How has your life changed since appearing on the show?
I’m in the airport and people recognize me and want a picture. I think a lot more opportunities have come my way. I think it’s given me a launch-pad to the next phase.
You mentioned a few African artists that you are influenced by. Any plans to collaborate with artists in Africa?
Definitely. I’m open to the idea of going back to Nigeria and African countries to share my vision. I was never exposed to music as a child. It was soccer- that’s it. So I’d like to go back and open music venues or hospitals. I think music venues would give more kids the license to dream.
What is one thing you want people to know that they might not know about you?
I’m not different from anyone else. I’m just someone who found my calling and voice– no pun intended.
Nelly is also working on his third album and is 80-90% done. If you want to stay in the loop with him, be sure to check him out on his networks: