Meet Beebee Bassey: The singing sensation who wove her struggles into melodies— Temitayo Olofinlua
“Before my mother got on the pulpit to preach, I was right there, singing,” Blessing Bassey closes her eyes as she belts out an old gospel number and recalls how her small voice filled up the church. With a small round face but a voice that shook the church walls, young Blessing, aka Beebee, was destined for the stage. Her voice was not only made for Rehoboth Covenant Ministry, their local church in Port-Harcourt, but for the world.
Music wasn’t just a passion; it became her lifeline through the struggles of dyslexia and dyscalculia during her school years.
“Numbers on the board were like a puzzle, and trying to fix them was a big problem for me, sometimes I would just start crying.” This made learning environments a challenge for her. Some even labeled her a ‘dullard’, affecting her self-esteem. In many traditional Nigerian classrooms, this meant that the teacher applied pressure which came in the form of beatings or punishment. It did not make her ‘brilliant’ as it did not solve the challenge.
However, music became her sanctuary, providing solace when classrooms failed her.
“Music did not judge me. It did not say that I could not figure it out. I just opened my mouth and sang.” Despite the beatings and judgment in secondary school exams, music remained the one thing she excelled in effortlessly.
Choosing to study Mass Communication at the Cross River University of Technology, Beebee continued a family tradition while secretly nurturing her love for music. Her mother studied the same course. It also meant that she could give her family what they wanted ‘a professional course’, just like many Nigerian children of her generation. However, her journey took a surprising turn when she entered the Voice of Cross River competition in 2011, securing second place and a cash prize. Music was still a hobby, not a career choice, but her family’s surprise gift of a guitar on her twentieth birthday hinted at their support.
In 2014, without her parents’ knowledge, she entered the Nigerian Idol competition and impressed the judges with her guitar-accompanied performances.
“That was my main introduction to the world of music proper. I was not only singing in front of judges who checked everything, practising with bands but I was also singing to fans out there.” Beebee recalls. Placing 5th runner-up marked the official beginning of her music career, leading to performances across Nigeria and collaboration with Pulse Media in 2016.
“These were the days when the live music scene in Lagos was blooming. And I am glad to have been part of it. I met Tarri Guitarri and Kafayat Quadri, also singers and contemporaries from whom I learned so much from when it comes to songwriting and performance.”
She continued her music career, honing her skills by performing at events, collaborating with other performers including Kella Kay and Najite El-david. Some of these events include the Festival of Colours Concert in Port Harcourt (December 2018), and Eko La Vida Show in Lagos (August 2019). In her spare time, she embarked on a mentorship adventure, teaching teenagers how to play the guitar and hone their musical skills.
In 2020, as the world locked up, hiding away from COVID-19 that was ravaging many countries, Beebee’s release her voice as a bird that travelled across several oceans. She released her first single ‘Incredible God’ which was well received, getting airplay in Nigeria and beyond, even in South Africa where it was played on global music station, TRACE Gospel. That same year, she was nominated for the Galaxy Music Awards (Best Vocal Performer Female Category) with some music heavyweights including Judi Kay and Clay. She also participated in the Karaoke World Championship, adding her own vibes to classics like Etta James ‘At Last’, Beyonce’s ‘Listen’ and ‘I’d Rather go Blind’. She won the Nigeria rounds of the competition and represented the country on the global stage.
Currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in International Business in the United Kingdom, she continues her music career recording songs and performing for different audiences across United Kingdom. Beebee’s music has continued resonating with various audiences in the UK. In December 2022, a social media recording of her performance opened doors to the 2023 Telford African and Afro-Caribbean Resource Centre (TAARC) Windrush Celebration.
“The Windrush event was important to us as an organisation. So, it was critical to get performers who understand the significance of the landmark event to contemporary issues,” says Nakita Rutherford, a trustee at TAARC. “Beebee did and her performances not only held the audience spell-bound but they were asking for more, and that is why we have invited her again to perform at our Christmas party.”
More than that, Beebee has also developed a renewed commitment to social issues, in addition to her gospel sound that she has always been used to. “This will help me stretch creatively as an artist,” she says her next EP tentatively titled “Toxic Places,” which will be released in December 2023 offers hope to domestic violence victims, while her upcoming album, tentatively titled “Truth,” is set to release in 2024.