Lemar: I didn’t mourn my mother’s death properly for years

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Lemar has revealed it took him “four or five years” to deal with the death of his mother and “mourn properly”.

The singer-songwriter’s mother, Edna Obika, died from cancer in July 2003, just before her son’s hit single Dance (With U) came out.

In a new episode of the I Never Thought it Would Happen podcast for the charity Help Musicians, Lemar, 45, told charity ambassador Chris Difford: “I addressed my mother’s passing about four or five years after the event.

“She told me to put my head down and make it work … so I really wanted to do right by her.

Comedy Central UK FriendsFestive event
(Ian West/PA)

Lemar, real name Lemar Obika, rose to fame after coming third on the BBC’s Fame Academy in 2002, went on to release seven albums and have 10 top 20 singles.

However, as a result of repeated exposure to loud noise, he developed the condition tinnitus, which causes constant ringing in the ears.

He said: “I just remember going to bed one night, the missus was asleep, the house was quiet and thinking, ‘What is that sound?’

“I was looking for where it was coming from and woke up the missus. She said, ‘It sounds silent to me’, and then I looked things up and realised I had tinnitus.

“You go through a period of feeling shell-shocked, thinking, ‘I will never hear silence’. But, luckily for me, the sound I hear isn’t too intrusive, it’s just a very, very, very high-pitched sound.”

The star, who has two children with his wife, Charmaine, discussed his early life as the son of Nigerian parents who believed studying was crucial.

“I told my parents I was going to take a year off and do pharmacy,” he said.

Instead, he followed his musical dreams and eight years later got his break on Fame Academy.

“I had £3 to my name and Fame Academy was a last-ditch attempt to try … it could have all been very different,” he said,

“At the time you think anything is possible, but later on, when you weigh up the odds of things working out, you think, ‘I’d have never tried to do that’ because it is almost impossible – like 1% of musicians get to make a living from what they do.

“With those odds, would you attempt to do it? Probably not. But when you’re young and you’ve got that gusto and that energy, you think anything’s possible.”

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