On Friday, January 29, Nigerian-British singer Patti Boulaye received the award of Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) as part of Her Majesty The Queen’s Birthday Honours List. HRH Prince Charles presented the award at the Buckingham Palace in recognition of her charity work in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa. She joins the long list of Africans who have been awarded including Sade Adu (OBE), Ben Okri (OBE), Ben Enwonwu (MBE), Yinka Shonibare (MBE), and David Adjaye (OBE).
For over 30 years, Patti has supported many charities in the UK. Her experience with the charities was useful when she launched her charity Support For Africa (SFA) at the Royal Albert Hall with 3,000 gospel singers and stars of stage and screen. To date, SFA has built 5 healthcare clinics and a school in Africa.
Her award comes on the heels of another Nigerian-British star, Oscar nominee and 12 Years A Slave actor, Chiwetel Ejiofor who was honoured with a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) for services to drama by the Duke of Cambridge, Prince William in 2015. He was awarded an OBE in 2008.
Patti Boulaye, born Patricia Ngozi Ebigwei on May 3, 1954, is best known for starring in Lux commercials and was the face of the beauty soap for 29 years in Africa, and her series, The Patti Boulaye Show. Boulaye is also famous for her leading role in Jab Adu’s Bisi, Daughter of the River (1977), one of the highest grossing African movies ever made, running in cinemas in Nigeria for three years. She also starred in the Music Mache—touted as the British equivalent of Saturday Night Live in 1979 and appeared as a cabaret singer in the 1980 Helen Mirren movie, Hurry.
As a singer, Boulaye spent a year touring and releasing several singles with British-based American girl group The Flirtations although she was never an official member. She released her first album Patti Boulaye (1976) and was later to follow with You Stepped into My Life (1978), Music Machine (1979), Magic (1981) Patti (1983) and In this Kingdom (2004).
Also a designer and painter, Boulaye has held 8 exhibitions in London and sells her own line of jewellery. She has also launched her own range of training corset designs.
The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is the “order of chivalry of British constitutional monarchy”, rewarding contributions to the arts and sciences, work with charitable and welfare organizations and public service organizations outside the civil service.