A Conversation with Ayọ

Ayọ (Photo via BK Reader)

Brooklyn singer and musician Ayọ (which means “Joy” in Yoruba) is issuing her fifth album, “Ayọ,” on Friday, October 6.  BK Reader writes that Ayọ…

…understood at a very early age the healing power of music, which is why she has chosen it as a means to heal not only others but also herself. Born in 1980 in Germany to Romanian and Nigerian parents, Ayọ– whose birth name is Joy Olasunmibo Ogunmakin– was shuffled through the foster care system after her parents separated when her mother became addicted to heroine and spent some time in jail.

During a four-year stint in a children’s home, she learned to play violin and piano and then later taught herself how to play the guitar. She maintained contact with her father, who was a DJ and who was the first to discover her talent for singing. At age 15, she wrote her first song, which was about her mother, and which helped her to cope with her traumatic childhood. And at age 18, she recorded her first studio demo with her father.

Ayọ has lived in Paris and London, but spoke about the attraction of Brooklyn, where she lives now: “The thing that I love the most about Brooklyn is that people are so direct. It’s a huge melting pot, but at the same time, so personal.” And she told BK Readers about her journey as a musician and singer:

Before I had the guts to sing in front of anybody, I used to rap. Now I’m going back into the hip hop; back into the reggae, I’m pleasing myself now. I’m not trying to be loved by anyone anymore. I want to love myself. And if someone doesn’t like me that way, it’s okay for me.

That’s why this album is self-titled… because it’s the person I am.

On Sunday Sept. 24 fans of the musician can get a preview of her new album when she gives a free performance at the 8th annual Soul of BK Festival to be held at Weeksville Heritage Center. Read more of BK Reader’s interview with Ayọ here.

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