Ayo, the gifted Nigerian singer is taking the world by storm. She was born in Cologne, Germany with her father being Yoruba,and her mother, a Romanian gypsy. Both parents had a strong influence on her music but the relationship with her mother, a heroin addict for 20 years was challenging. Ayo's earlier music centers around her difficult up bring.
The talented singer has defied the odds, and put her challenging background to bed, flourishing with an international music career. Her music is full of soul, and has relevant messages to society.
She sat down with Belinda Otas for a revealing interview.
The real Ayo:
Belinda: What inspires you as an individual and an artist?
Ayo: As an artist and as an individual, I’m inspired by life itself. My life, the life of others, my surroundings and daily influences, that’s what I’m inspired by the most and my music. My music is rather personal than anything else. To me, it’s more of a therapy. Music has always been therapeutic and healing to me.
Belinda: When you are writing and as you sing these songs, what is it that you want to examine, expose and explore through your music?
Ayo: The way it happens is a very natural process. Sometimes I cannot even explain what I write. Other times, when I take the guitar, there are things the guitar can take out of me.
It’s a communication between me and my guitar and the way to get rid of some weight and things that are bothering me and things that have touched me a lot or made me sad or made me happy. So, it’s really like, I write music, it sounds horrible but the first thing is that I really do it for myself and then when I feel good about it and I’m happy, I know that I can make other people feel good too and maybe people will be able to find themselves in it.
Maybe there are people that don’t have a voice and don’t feel courageous enough to talk about these things. So maybe when they hear it from my song, they can relate to it as if it was their own story because I believe that we share more than we actually think.
Help is Coming from the Joyful album
Belinda: You have never shied away from talking about your background, what would you say you took from the Nigerian part of your heritage and your mum’s Romanian side?
Ayo: The Nigerian part of me is probably the strongest because I grew up with my dad way more than I did with my mum and my dad gave me a lot. My mum too but I believe my dad influenced all of us a lot. My dad is very much Nigerian but at the same time, he is very modern.
I was born and raised in Germany, I was always like the outcast because everybody is white with the blue eyes and green eyes, and the blonde hair and though I was born in Germany, you have to picture that Germany is quite different from the UK. So in the 80s, they were more Africans in the UK than in Germany and in the school that I went to,
I was the only black child. I have been insulted about the colour of my skin but it was okay because it didn’t do a lot of damage. But at one point, you do decide and you take a side. I would look in the mirror and see that I’m different and I would relate to my father and whenever I was around my father, I was really proud.
I was proud to be different and I really related to the Nigerian side more than anything else and when people would ask me, where are you from? I would always say Nigeria. The fact that I was different and looked different made me grow closer to the Nigerian part of me and of course, my name, I didn’t have a typical German name. My name is more Nigerian than anything.
Life is Real, one of her big hits
Another great video, Lonely
Belinda: You refused to be boxed up in the early days when record labels wanted to turn you into a black Britney Spears, how important was it for you as an artist to take that stand and stick with the core of what music means to you?
Ayo: When I was 14/15 and started going to the studio, my mum saw that I was not really the happiest and because she had a lot of problems in her life, drug problems and it’s thanks to her that I’m staying away from drugs because now I know it is not a good thing to take.
I’m not taking anything that is drugs related and maybe its too extreme sometimes but I am very careful with whatever I do when it comes to that. But my mum said to me, despite everything and what she had to go through in her life and that was, ‘maybe you don’t know what makes you happy because you are young but when you do know what makes you sad, get rid of it the moment that you feel it’s wrong and it makes you unhappy and that is what I did.
So, whenever something felt wrong to me, I knew it wasn’t the right thing, so I moved on, even though I didn’t know where I was going to go to or what it was that I really wanted and when I found it, it felt right and I knew that this was it. This is what I wanted to do.
Ayo is a real inspiration, and people can learn a lesson from her career. Follow your dreams and do not led obstacles hold you back from success.
Ayo is one of the hidden treasurers of Africa, that is getting more recognition everyday. Her latest album "Billie Eve" is fantastic, she blends new instruments and sounds to perfection. It is not rated [check right hand side] because it is relatively new. Check out the playlist and discover the potential of this gifted artist.