Patti Boulaye (born Patricia Ngozi Ebigwe, 3 May 1954) is a British-Nigerian singer, actress and artist who was among the leading black British entertainers in the 1970s and 1980s. In her native Nigeria, she is best remembered for starring in Lux commercials, and The Patti Boulaye Show.
The seventh of nine children, Boulaye was born after her mother went into labour in a taxi that was passing through two towns in Mid-Western Nigeria, and was raised in a strict Catholic household. As a teenager, she witnessed the horrors of the Biafran war, but attributed her family's survival to their strong faith. Shortly after the war, at the age of sixteen, she left Nigeria for the United Kingdom.
Although she had hopes of becoming a nun, Boulaye auditioned for a musical after standing in what she believed was a queue for Madame Tussauds, and won a part in a production of Hair. She was disowned by her strict father for attempting to become a West End actress, but he later forgave her. After Hair, she featured in Two Gentlemen of Verona. Her first starring role was as Yum Yum in The Black Mikado under her birth name Patricia Ebigwei. Critic Tony Lane wrote: "Patricia Ebigwei's version of 'The Sun whose rays...' is, in the words of the Gramophone reviewer of this recording, the performance against which all others must now be judged. It is one of those remarkable interpretations that makes all others pale and unsatisfactory by comparison. No G and S lover is unmoved by this sensational piece of music making. Her version is a slow, erotic, languid ballad of vanity and sexual self-satisfaction that makes the conventional renditions seem prissy and just plain silly."
After Boulaye's starring role in African movie Bisi, Daughter of the River, which is said to be the biggest grossing African movie ever made, running in the cinemas in Nigeria for three years, she came to prominence as a singer after winning the British TV talent show New Faces, where she made history by becoming the only contestant ever to receive the maximum 120 points. Prior to this, she had spent a year touring and releasing several singles with girlgroup The Flirtations, who unsuccessfully tried to launch themselves as a British version of The Supremes.
Boulaye's victory on New Faces led to the release of the album You Stepped Into My Life, and appearances in stage, film and television, including The Music Machine (billed as the British Saturday Night Fever) in 1979, Carmen Jones and Dempsey & Makepeace. In 1984, she had her own series, The Patti Boulaye Show on Channel Four. The Christmas special, which featured Cliff Richard was a ratings success, and an album was released in conjunction with the screening of the series. The eighties saw an increase in fitness awareness, and Boulaye was among the celebrities whose voices featured on the Shape Up and Dance keep-fit albums.
In Nigeria, she was the face of Lux and The Patti Boulaye Show was shown on several NTA stations. She is also well known as a singer and actress there, having starred in Nigeria's biggest box-office hit as "Bisi" in Bisi Daughter of The River. She was invited to sing for Olusegun Obasanjo during his inauguration. In 2003, Boulaye launched her West End musical Sun Dance, which took twelve years to put together. Hailed as a celebration of "the colours and music of Africa in a display of ceremonial dances, rituals and initiation ceremonies, all played out to the beat of African drums", it was written and produced by Boulaye herself, and opened at the Hackney Empire Boulaye featured in an excerpt from the show forming part of the interval act at the 1998 Eurovision Song Contest staged at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham.
Boulaye was appointed to the “Entertainment Steering Committee” for the Queen’s Golden Jubilee (2 June 2002) and organised and led 5000 Gospel singers down The Mall in the celebrations singing songs including "Celebrate Good News", especially written by Boulaye for the occasion. She has released nine albums and 25 singles to date and currently is writing her autobiography. Boulaye is the founder and President of the charity “Support for Africa”, which has built five clinics in rural Africa and a school with HRH Prince Harry’s Charity, “Sentebale”, in Lesotho.
In 2012, Boulaye launched her BIPADA Academy, providing advice on protocol, etiquette, public relations, media relations and reputation management for students, diplomatic, personal, corporate clients and Governments.
Designing and painting are two of Boulaye's additional talents, with eight London exhibitions under her belt and two seasons of selling her own line of jewellery on QVC. She has also launched her own range of Training Corset designs.
In 2013, Patti returned to live work, and played a sell out show at London's Hippodrome Casino to rave reviews and is currently working on a new album.
You Stepped Into My Life
The Music Machine
Shape Up And Dance
Christmas With Patti Boulaye
The Magic Of Patti Boulaye
In His Kingdom
A devout Catholic, Boulaye has two children - Aret and Sebastian - with her husband, Stephen Komlosy.
- Patti Boulaye Bio
- was wrongly quoted as saying-god-took-away-my-career--with-a-lot-of-help-from-the-tories-403208.html Interview with The Independent.
- Cummings, Tony (April 2004). "Patti Boulaye: The African star of musicals goes gospel". Cross Rhythms (80).
- Sundance Review
- Support for Africa.
- "Boulaye International Protocol And Decorum Academy" - BIPADA.
- "Patti Boulaye's 'Shakara' Collection, Model Aret 4-Mobile.m4v". YouTube.
- Patti Boulaye at the Internet Movie Database
- Patti's official site
- Patti's Management Profile
- Patti's Etiquette & Protocol Academy