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IUP Grad's New Album Blends Influences
By Chris Buell, Gazette Staff Writer January 04, 2003
If her name is any indication, Mercy Alu was meant to perform.
Alu, a native of Nigeria, has an ancestral name, Ogeri Igwogo Ony-Aja, that translates to "lady of song and dance."

Although she has done both since she was only a child, Alu, a 1999 graduate of Indiana University of Pennsylvania, demonstrated her singing skills by releasing her own album recently.

The album, "Jewels of Africa," is a blend of styles, drawing heavily from pop influences and traditional African music.

"That's where my basic influence comes from," Alu, 25, said while visiting friends in Indiana.

"At the same time, there have been some strong women singers from the United States that I have admired," she said, citing Whitney Houston and Tina Turner.

Alu performs lead vocals and many of the backup vocals on the album. She also plays the drums.

The album, a collection of 14 songs that Alu said she wrote between 1989 and 2000, is the culmination of two years of recording on and off in Atlanta and Chicago.

The recording was completed last month.

"The idea behind this music was to just showcase the different kinds of music that I've written," she said.

Alu, who has performed for the president of Nigeria during a visit to the United States, said the album is patterned like a day, starting with the song "Sunshine" and closing with "Have It Your Way."

Alu writes her songs in both English and Ibo, her native language.

Alu released the album on her own and has been selling it on her own and through several stores in Illinois, where she attends law school at the University of Illinois.

Even though Alu has just finished her first album, she is already at work on two other albums, she said.

"It's kind of like one of those things where you've passed one hurdle, but you're not finished."

For more information or to purchase a copy of Alu's album, you can reach her by sending e-mail to her.

©Indiana Printing & Publishing Co. 2003
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