Debut album from the German-born vocalist. Ayo's father was Nigerian and her mother was a gipsy. This album, recorded in just five days, features tracks that are both a tribute to her mixed upbringing but also a look at her life, most of which she has spent moving from country to country. Produced by Jay Newland, Joyful features exceptional musicians who effortlessly translate Ayo's musical ideas to flawless performances. Influenced by '60s Pop and R&B as well as Reggae and world music, Ayo brings passion and authority to the bittersweet songs on Joyful. 12 tracks including 'Down On My Knees', 'How Many Times' and 'Without You'. Universal. 2007.
Ayo (her name means "joy" in Nigerian Yoruba) has been on a careening music biz fast track ever since 2006, when her debut release, Joyful
, achieved platinum sales in France and several other European countries. The lovely singer-composer-guitarist-pianist was born in Germany to a Nigerian father and a Romanian Roma
(Gypsy) mother and, with her husband and son, now divides her time between Paris and New York. Joyful
was produced by Grammy award-winner Jay Newland and recorded in New York City in five days flat, under studio-live conditions. This created a relaxed yet urgently charged ambience that underpins the ebb and flow of all 12 tracks. Musically, the tunes incorporate diverse quotes from a polyglot life, such as accordion-laced French bal musette
, slouchy Afro-Euro reggae, quietly down-and-dirty R & B-influenced organ riffs, Beatles-eque piano chords, plus subtle strings and over all, a moodily suave acoustic guitar. Ayo's girlishly light but spot-on vocals are sung primarily in English with occasional touches of Nigerian pigeon. She speaks of sexual passion hopeless and fulfilled, family, friendships, and philosophical observations both grim and optimistic; these are young songs from an old soul. The massive success of the present album has led to a television special, Ayo Live in Monte Carlo
, which will be aired in the USA on PBS. During it, the young chanteuse performs tunes from Joyful
and hobnobs with Princess Stephanie of Monaco, with whom she shares a commitment to children's causes. --Christina Roden