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Award winner hits all the right notes

Last update - Thursday, February 25, 2010, 11:37 By Rose Foley

When Nofe Liberty auditioned for musician Les Stapleton at Temple Bar’s Sound Training Centre a couple of years ago, she was asked what instrument she played.

“I said the only instrument I got is my voice,” the Co Meath resident recalled.
So she sang something for him and, as she remembers: “He said ‘I’m going to make you a star.’”
He was right. Twenty-two-year old Nofe, along with her brother Felix Liberty, 19, surprised even themselves with their Meteor Ireland Music Award win last week.
Both are lead vocalists with the band Amasis, which was named winner of the Most Promising New Act at the awards show last Friday, based on the band’s latest single ‘Never Yours’.
The electropop band – which also features Les Stapleton and Fergal Toohey, the group’s main songwriters, and is named after an Egyptian king – received more than 50,000 votes from fans to scoop the prize.
“We never thought we would win,” said Nofe, explaining that the band was up against four other nominees – Ever27, Jody Has A Hitlist, Colm Lynch and Susie Soho, all of them Irish acts.
The Liberty siblings were raised in Brooklyn, New York and were born into music, as their Nigerian mother Rosemary describes it. Their other siblings Ivie and Clinton also sing, as does Rosemary and their father Felix, who is a big afropop star in Nigeria.
Nofe started singing around nine years of age, and began performing with her sister Ivie in Nigeria at 12. “It was amazing,” she recalls of the experience.
Growing up, she remembers watching her father perform. “My dad used to take us to loads of concerts,” she says. “He put smiles on people’s faces. I wanted to do that too.”
Nofe’s managed to do just that through her spotlight role with Amasis. But her brother Felix’s stint with the band happened more by accident – by way of a guest spot on a rap song.
“My brother did the rap at the Button Factory,” says Nofe about an Amasis gig at the Temple Bar venue. “Afterwards no one was talking about the lead – people were all talking about him.”
There was such a huge demand from fans that Felix later joined Amasis as a full-time lead singer.
Nofe says they both appreciate the support Amasis has received from the Irish community as well as the Afro-Nigerian community at large.
She and her brother have lived in Ireland for the past five years, after the family came to Ireland to visit a relative and found it so peaceful they decided to stay.
Their schooling came out of their own pockets, says Nofe, “but it’s all worth it”.
While she’s now best known for her music, Nofe’s skills aren’t limited to singing. She is also a dancer, a model who won Miss Africa Ireland 2006, and an actress. And she gives special thanks to theatre director Bisi Adigun for believing in her enough to give her lead roles in plays at the Samuel Beckett Theatre and the Project Arts Centre.
Nofe also gives credit to her mother, whom she describes as her mentor and who, it turns out, has more than a parental role in her children’s success. Rosemary Liberty is a fashion designer and designs all the clothes for her children’s shows – even the gown that Nofe wore to the Meteor awards ceremony.
“We were so surprised [by the win],” Rosemary says. “I could not believe it myself. This is the kind of break they are looking for.”
As for what’s next, Nofe said she’s going to fully concentrate on her music and the band’s latest project – a combination of Afro-Nigerian, Irish and American music – and make it something that’s really different from what we’re used to.

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