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Ayọ (born September 14, 1980) is the stage name of Joy Olasunmibo Ogunmakin, a Nigerian-German singer-songwriter, who rose to prominence with her 2006 debut album, “Joyful”, hailing from Cologne, Germany.
Born in a neighbouring area of Cologne, Germany, Ayọ had a tumultuous childhood fraught with her mother’s substance abuse and time spent in a children’s home in Schwalmtal-Waldniel. It was in this children’s home Ayọ learned to play the violin and piano, later playing in the music band “La Taste”, before moving to live with her father at age 14. The musician penned her first song a year later, with songwriting proving a cathartic exercise to manage her emotions and thoughts. Ayọ would regularly listen to her father’s record collection, including the likes of Pink Floyd, Jimmy Cliff and Donny Hathaway, which markedly influenced her own musical output.
Upon discovering his daughter’s vocal talents, Ayọ’s father recorded a demo tape at a local studio to send to labels and venues. After a brief period living in London, Ayọ moved to Paris, France, where she began to garner considerable attention and playing a series of solo shows, including opening for Omar and Cody Chestnut. Following this success the singer signed with Polydor Records who released her debut full-length “Joyful” in 2006. Recorded live in the studio over five days, the record earned a wave of critical acclaim and double-platinum certification in France and Poland. Topping the album charts in Poland, the singer also found success in the U.S., Finland, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Italy, aided by the singles “Down on My Knee”, “And It’s Supposed to Be Love”, and “Life is Real”. “Joyful” was supported by an extensive touring schedule which included large parts of Europe and the U.S.
Recorded at Compass Point Studios in The Bahamas, Ayọ’s sophomore album, “Gravity at Last”, was released in September 2008. Featuring her live band comprised of Keith Christopherson, Larry Campbell, Lucky Peterson, Sherrod Barnes, and Jemaine Parrish, the album was once again recorded live and was toured heavily in promotion of.
The singer-songwriter and musician’s third album, “Beillie-Eve” appeared in March 2011, featuring the likes of Craig Ross, Saul Williams, and Gail Ann Dorsey. Issued by MBM Records, the record proved another well-received release, finding the Top 10 in Belgium and France. In 2013 Ayọ released her fourth full-length, “Ticket to the World”, led by the singles “Fire” featuring rapper Youssoupha, and “Who”.