Kefee was born Irekefe Obareki some 30 years ago to devout Christian parents, Deacon and Mrs. Andrew Obareki in Sapele, Delta State, she began singing at the tender age of eight. While her father was a Deacon in a church, her mother was a frontline woman leader. At her tender age, they discovered that Kefee had a gift for singing. However, when she tried to join the choir, she was denied. Reason, she was too small to be in the choir.
However, Mr Alec Godwin, who would marry her later was choir master. He then got her into the choir through his influence and when she turned 15 he drafted her into the senior choir and thus a romance which would blossom into marriage and eventually heart break for the pair was born. Kefee eventually became the choir director at age 18!
Kefee fell in love with Alec and in the late 1990s, they relocated to Lagos. In 2000, Kefee, a graduate of Public Administration from the University of Benin, released a debut album entitled “Trip” with a friend. However, success came her way in December 2003 when she signed on with Alec Music, a record label owned by her heartthrob and released her first solo album.
Under Alec’s tutelage, Kefee recorded her first hit song, Branama, which was a runaway success. Overnight the couple became the poster couple of the industry as Branama took Kefee to new heights and she won several awards. Meanwhile, the romance continued to flourish and the logical thing to do was to get married which they did in 2005. In 2006, Kefee released another album, Branama 2.
However, by 2008 the couple was at the end of the road. Still childless and always at loggerheads, cracks began to appear on the wall amid rumours of infidelity and domestic violence. Soon, the marriage broke up in a messy divorce which saw the pair washing their dirty linen in public in 2008, three years after they tied the knot.
The climax was when the divorce proceedings began in court and the pair revealed a can of worms. On his part, Alec packed his bags and baggage and relocated to Port Harcourt and closed his record label, Alec Music, which at the time boasted the likes of TWO, Gordons, Dude Tetsola, Segun Obe, Rymnzo and Kefee.
Commenting on the lessons she learnt from her broken marriage Kefee had said: “It only opened my eyes more to what life is all about; if you don’t go through challenges you never become a stronger person. That was a chapter in my life that was meant to make me stronger as a person. People go through challenges and that was my story and when we couldn’t carry on any longer, we had to part ways.”
Nevertheless, life must continue, Kefee determined to make a career for herself, rebounded from the crisis after she recorded a new single with Timaya entitled “Kokoroko” and landed herself a UN ambassadorship deal. “Kokoroko” got her the biggest award for her career for Best Collaboration at The Headies in 2010. She also began work on her business, Branama Kitchen, and there was also talk of a cloth line. She embarked on various tours both within and outside the country during this period.
Kefee had been secretly dating Teddy Don Momoh after the breakup of her marriage and in March 2012, gospel music lovers were shocked when word broke that she had secretly married her long-time friend, Teddy Don Momoh. Pictures of the traditional marriage went viral. Shortly after, the singer launched her Branama kitchen. In an interview she had granted at the time, Kefee declared that indeed the storm was over.
The couple tied the knot on Saturday, March 3, 2012 in Sapele, Delta State. The wedding ceremony and news about their marriage were, however, kept on a low with lots of surprises from Teddy’s associates.
Commenting on why she chose to settle down with Don Momoh, Kefee had said: “My husband is a very nice guy and I am actually writing a book about my first marriage. The bottom line is that I am happy and if you ask me, this is the first time I am getting married”.
In a career that spanned well over a decade, Kefee successfully wrote her name in the annals of Nigerian music. Kefee’s Branama album sold nine thousand audio cassettes in just three weeks of the album’s release and over two million copies of CDs/VCDs in a month. She became the hottest Nigerian female artiste and won a number of awards increasing her fan base all over Africa and also on the international scene. She was invited to perform in London and other parts of Europe and America.
Kefee’s second album entitled “Branama 2” was just as terrific as her first and consolidated her hold on the gospel genre. The release of “A Piece of Me” in January 2009, catapulted her career to new heights due to its diversity. She released her last album in 2012 entitled “Chorus Leader”.
According to reports, some weeks ago, the singer, who was rumoured to be six months pregnant, had collapsed aboard a 14-hour flight to Chicago in USA. Consequently, the aircraft had to make an emergency landing in Los Angeles where Kefee received urgent medical attention. It was also rumoured that the singer had been diagnosed with pre-eclampsia – pregnancy induced high blood pressure and was on life support.
Though Kefee had been in a coma for close to three weeks, it was with shock that Nigerians received news on Friday 13th June, 2014 that the gospel music star and Branama Queen, had passed on to the great beyond abruptly terminating a career spanning over a decade. Even in death, Kefee’s light continues to shine as she was a frontline gospel music star. With four albums to her credit and a number of hits, she would go down as one of Nigeria’s most successful contemporary gospel musicians. May her soul rest in peace. Amen.
Tony Erhariefe and Nkechi Chima.
Edited by Emeka E. Okeke.