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Many Don't Know MONIQUE Is My Real Name

A few weeks days ago, many gathered to celebrate one of the top female Gospel artistes, Temitope Monique Lawal, popularly called Monique. She celebrated her 40th birthday in grand style at Radisson Blu Hotel in Ikeja.

The event was a gathering of stars, as many of her colleagues turned up to celebrate with her.

She granted SUNDAY ADIGUN an interview where she spoke about her life, marriage and a few other interesting topics. In this interview, Monique revealed what many people don’t know about her life, marriage, her name, which many thought to be her stage name. She also revealed how she lost her second child when she ignored God’s call.

Please sit back and enjoy the conversation.

Let me start by congratulating you on the successful celebration of your 40th birthday recently. How did you feel when you saw the large number of people who turned up for you?

I felt very good, I felt happy, I felt honoured. There are some things money can not buy. There are some relationships money cannot buy. If people don’t love you, they won’t leave something that matters to them to come and celebrate with you, especially on a weekday. So, for them to come and celebrate me, I feel so loved. I felt so honoured. I felt I have probably done something right.

Let’s talk about you, Monique, what are the things many people don’t know?

I really don’t have anything to hide. I am what you see on TV. The same person on the street, like a normal Nigerian. Yes, I sing, people do too. I have talent, people have talents, I am called, I am a woman, I am a Nigerian, so there's nothing really unique, nothing special, except I am a child of God. I don’t know any other thing that is so special, I am just myself.

Celebrating 40, what has life taught you so far?

Life taught me to always be grateful. I am a very grateful person, I am a very content person, I am a very patient person. I am very persevering and hardworking. If I say: "Oh life has shown me this, life has shown me that," everybody at one time or the other has had his/her fair share of life experiences.

I have had mine too and I believe that it is the way things should go because even Jesus had His. I was telling someone about the story of Job, that if Job could lose almost everything he had and still be the apple of God’s eyes, then if we are faced with such challenges in this time, we have to embrace faith, and still say: “God, you are true, God, I will serve you no matter what the devil brings”. So, if anything happens, I just believe it is still the will of God.

A lot of people have been through something and they are no more. Some are probably very poor now, homeless or dead, and I have been through it and I am alive, so, the only thing I would say life has taught me is to always be grateful. Grateful for life, grateful for everything I am right now. The ones I was able to achieve, the ones I couldn’t achieve. I believe that in every way, it is still a Yes from God, even when He is silent, it is still a “Yes”. So, life has taught me to always be grateful.

Let’s talk about your journey in life, how did it all start?

I was born, bred and brought up in Lagos. My dad is a Yoruba man from Iju-Ishaga. My mum is a Delta woman from Urhobo. So, I would say I am a Yoruba woman. I am a Yoruba girl married to an Ondo man, so it makes me still a Yoruba woman.

I was born into a family of 10. I lost one of my sisters, so I have 2 sisters and 6 guys. I started my primary education at Iju Station Primary School, then Iju Secondary School, from there to the University of Lagos where I got a Degree in Music. To God be the glory, I am married with 2 children.

I got called into the ministry, I am now a Gospel Minister. Coming into music, I have always wanted to do music since I was a child. I just love singing. I  got to know I was talented when I was a teenager and I was going on talent hunts which I won. In fact, I led my school to win many competitions. I wanted to do music professionally, not as a gospel musician, but God said it was going to be Gospel, so, here I am doing the call of God and Ministry.

Nobody would believe you are a Yoruba woman with your name “Monique”, how did you come about the name?

I like the fact that people don’t know I am a Yoruba (laughs). The name Monique is actually my real name, not a stage name. It’s a name from my grandma because I am the last child. My dad gave me a name after his mum. Everybody actually gave me names, but the name Monique is from my grandma. At the time I was born, she just arrived from France, I guess she liked the name, but I later checked the meaning of the name and it is an “Advisor”, even though I don’t know how a baby could become an advisor (laughs) I like the name and I embraced it because everywhere I go, I would always find people bearing my Yoruba name which is “Temitope” and people will start identifying you with Tope dudu, Tope pupa, Tope kukuru, Tope giga and so on, and I didn’t like that. So, I said people should just call me Monique, which was not popular at that time.

Let’s talk about your marriage?

I don’t like talking about my marriage, but for Dr. Seye Kehinde, I will gladly do it because he is a good man. I have had a lot of bad press, but at that time, he was the only one, who called to confirm if the story was true or not and that was the end, City People never wrote anything about it. So, that is the reason I am doing this. I have known my husband since 1999. I heard about a circle of stars Musical Talent Hunt, I went for it and I won. Along the line, I met Kenny Saint Brown and I became her backup.

Through her, I became very close to Kennis Music. My husband at that time was also very close to Kennis Music. Each time I went to Kennis Music, I always saw the likes of Tony Tetuila, 2Face etc. Kennis Music was a good place to be if you are a music lover and, of course, as I said earlier, I didn’t plan to do Gospel, so, I was really enjoying all of that and lo and behold! I realised that the man was actually staying about 3 streets away from my father’s house. That was how we met and we became friends.

One day, I was strolling with my brothers to the field because I play football too, we met him and he knew my brothers too. That was how we got talking and we dated for 5 years. We started dating in 2000 and we got married in 2005, and God has blessed my marriage with children. I have lost a child in the middle of it.

Those were the painful times that have become testimonies for me. We have had our troubled times and we overcame them, to God be the glory.

What is next for Monique now after 40 years, what should we expect from you?

I have got a lot to do right now. I am signed on Spaghetti Records, owned by Mike Abdul and that makes my work very easy for me. I am also working on my album. One of my albums dropped on my birthday. I also released a perfume product for both males and females. I shot a couple of videos that are yet to be released. So right now, it is my album and my video promotion.

Please allow me to take you back a bit, you didn’t have the intention of doing Gospel music, but you eventually became a Gospel artiste, what was the connection?

It was a terrible calling because in the course of it I lost a child. There are times as a Christian, that you don’t even know when you are being called. There are some things your spirit is telling you to do, but because your mind is stationed somewhere else, you won’t even know it is the Holy Spirit that is talking to you. I have done secular jobs, I have worked at a bank, I have worked with an Oil company, and you can’t be doing all of that and you want to now go to church and start singing. Of course, Gospel back in the days didn’t even pay unlike now, so, you are not even going there to earn money, you are going there to serve. I have loved Celine Dion. I have loved the likes of KSB, Segun Obe, Lagbaja, etc I was doing jingles and backups for artistes, so music was paying off in that strength, not as a Gospel artiste, but, let me say I am a church girl, a very good one from a reputable Christian family. I started with a church when I was young, but. I had a bitter experience. There was a lot of competition among Choir members and all that, so it was a lot of battle, so I stopped going to church, I was enjoying going for jingles. I have another place to practice my music skills away from Choir until one of my big sisters drew me back to church. I went back to church, but I wasn’t ready to be a Gospel artiste. Later, I had a dream that it has to be beyond Choir. I didn’t know that the dream was a message for me. I just ignored it. I will just go to church, go to my office the next day. I didn’t know I was supposed to go into full-time ministry until that year; yeah I was pregnant like every other woman, but it was so difficult for me, it was my second child then. I had the baby, but a few days after, I lost the child. It was a painful experience for me because the pregnancy was very tough for me, so to have lost a child was a serious pain.

I asked God why me? I have served you, I have been everything a Christian should be. I questioned God and I heard a voice that said I should even thank God for a 2nd chance, that He is the God of second chances, that I would have been dead and my child will be alive and only my memory would be treasured, right now I have the chance to give myself out to him. I was baffled when I heard the voice, I spoke with my Pastor and he said “honestly, you should be grateful that you heard from God directly, that indeed God wanted you in his vineyard”. And since then I gave up everything I was doing, and I said God I am sold out to you. I went back to church and when I was doing that I released a song “Kabiyesi Oba Gbogbo Aye” that was just me sparing my life, for giving me thanking God for a second chance in life and since then I have been sold out to the ministry, and I have been a servant of God.

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