Ikechukwu Eric Ahiauzu, is a singer and songwriter better known by his stage name Ric Hassani. The 27-year-old has been fully immersed in the music industry for over a year now and has managed to make his stand in the music industry as an unsigned artist. Ric currently has two award nominations for the 2016 Headies: ‘Best Vocal Performance’ alongside the likes of Brymo, Darey, Shaydee and Wande Coal as well as ‘Best Alternative Song’ both for his 2015 single, ‘Gentleman’.
Ric is inspired by the works of Boyz II Men, Craig David, Chris Brown, Sam Smith and Justin Bieber. He is slowly rising into the ranks of Timi Dakolo, Darey Art Alade and Praiz. At the moment, Ric is one of Africa’s emerging stars and has garnered the attention of the masses in a short time with his smooth vocals and intriguing fashion which is a blend of Western attire in Africa print.
Guess you’re wondering how he came by the stage name – Ric Hassani? Eric chose a nickname Hassani from TV series Fresh Prince.
How did your career as a musician begin?
I am the last born of five and all my elder sisters were in the church choir, a classical choir. They rehearsed for hours after the church services. The choir was mostly adults, and I was about eight or nine years old at the time. I grew up in an Anglican church so the choir was very ceremonial and respected.
During their rehearsals, there were meat pies and as a kid all I wanted was to have some. So, I forced my way into the choir and just became ‘the kid everyone liked’ and the best part? – Because I was the youngest, I now became the one they delegated to go from pew to pew sharing the meat pies!!! My life was complete.
I became a part of the choir, I rehearsed with them for months singing soprano, but never joined them on the main services, only rehearsals. Then one day, the choirmaster called me aside after I had just shared out the last batch of meat pies, gave me a new piece to sing, sat by the organ and said: “Oya, as I de play, just start de sing make I hear“. And I sang the whole thing, solfa notations and all. He then said, “Come Sunday morning, pick a robe and join us”. That’s how my career started.
Why did you choose the alternative genre?
I would not say I am alternative. I think that most times, people tend to call a new or different sound that they aren’t used to alternative, but I best define myself as a pop artist.
You’ve become widely popular very quickly. How have you been taking that?
I must say it is humbling. The more known I get just makes me want to work harder because it means that more people are watching and I cannot disappoint them. So, it makes me want to put my head down and work harder.
How do you feel about your nomination for the Headies?
Headies is a platform that I have dreamt about. It feels very surreal that I am now nominated. And again, for an independent artist as myself who isn’t signed to any record label it is really a big deal. I am really thankful to God for that. I’m thankful to God for a lot, it’s a very good feeling.
Are your parents supportive about your career choice?
Right now, they are more supportive than ever and it makes me happy. I think the bottom line is our parents just want to see us happy and fulfilled and comfortable. It is not so much about what we do; because as parents they have invested so much into us children and they just want to see that all that energy and sacrifice they have made is worth something. My Dad is the most excited especially when I am travelling out to another country to perform and then my mum is the most excited about awards, she will be the first to tell all her friends at work and at church, and she will send the most broadcast messages on WhatsApp to her contacts forcing all of them to vote [laughs]. That they are happy about what I am doing means the world to me and it gives me a kind of; joy and affirmation.
What inspires you?
Love. I am really inspired by love. I watch a lot of marriage proposals on YouTube and it really inspires me to write really nice and honest love music.
What are your plans for the future?
I plan to continue to do more work like I always have. Fashion is also something that I would like to delve into but I would only do that when the time is right. I have also been working on my debut album “The African Gentleman” for a while now so hopefully I get to release it soon, but all in God’s time.
Words you live by.
A big shot is only a small shot that kept on shooting.
Creative Director: Chidera Muoka
Photographer: Niyi Okeowo
Assistant Photographer: Idris Dawodu
Makeup Artist: Jumoke Tychus for Eyesome Beauty
Stylist: Henry Uduku