Wednesday, 4 August 2010


I love checking out music videos on YOUTUBE, and I can remember that I stumbled upon a couple of her videos in 2008. I did not really give all my attention to the videos and I soon forgot about Ayo and her music. However, after writing the piece about Nneka Egbuna's rise on the world music stage and her subsequent collaboration with Nas, I recalled my encounter with Ayo. The memories flooded back because Ayo and Nneka are mixed race Nigerians and they both have links with Germany. If you think Nneka Egbuna is amazing, you need to listen to the music of Ayo Ogunmakin. While Nneka is consolidating her position as Africa's Queen of Contemporary Hip-Soul music, Ayo is working her way up gradually as a versatile soul musician.

Joy Olasunmibo Ogunmakin was born on the 14th of September 1980 in Frenchen near Cologne, Germany. 'Ayo' is the Yoruba translation of her first name, Joy. Her father is Nigerian while her mother is from Romania. Ayo lived briefly for a while in Nigeria with her parents as a baby. She had a turbulent childhood as her mother suffered from drug addiction, went to jail, and her parents later divorced. After spending time in care homes and with foster parents, she returned to live with her father and that was when her musical career started. Her father worked as a DJ and had albums of greats like Fela Kuti, Jimmy Cliff and Bob Marley. Ayo naturally developed a love for music and subsequently recorded her first demo tape. She was then allowed by her father to drop out of school and pursue her music interests.

Ayo worked on her voice before releasing her debut album 'Joyful' in 2006. The album achieved Double-Platinum status in France, Platinum in Germany and Poland, and Gold Status in Greece, Italy and Switzerland. The album which was released in the US by Interscope Records in 2007 sold 500,000 copies in France alone, with an extra 750,000 copies snapped up by music lovers worldwide. Her second album 'Gravity At Last' [ 2008 ] was recorded in the Bahamas with Jay Newland as the Producer once again. 'Gravity At Last' is more introspective with some experimentation with the instrumentals. Ayo has two children with her partner, the Afro-German reggae singer Patrice. They live with their kids in Manhattan, New York City.

Ayo Ogunmakin is highly valued in the Western world. On the 4th of February 2009, Jacques Hintzy, President of UNICEF France, announced that she had been chosen as a Patron of UNICEF to promote the right to education for children worldwide. She has performed with Kenneth 'Babyface' Edmonds, Omar and Cody Chesnutt. A documentary about Ayo's life and her musical journey titled 'Ayo Joy', is being produced by 'Slingshots Music' [ Owned by her Music Manager, Fatou Sow ]and will be released later this year or early 2011. She is also working on a third album which will be out in the stores next year. Ayo and Patrice Plan to build a house in Jamaica. RV will keep you informed about the strides Ayo is taking to make the world feel her vibes.

Sources:, Wikipedia,, RV.
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