Nigerian-born artist Ayo parleys successful
Gospel career into rising pop stardom
WASHINGTON, D.C. – When introducing East Coast artist Ayo to new audiences, it would be easy to point to her accolades. There are many – from performing alongside big name artists like Chance the Rapper and Andra Day, to being featured in the new HBO documentary “The Apollo.” It would be easy to point to her success as a Gospel artist and her work with the singing competition “Sunday Best.”
But at the end of the day, the best accolades are those of her unique sound and style which are fully displayed on her first pop EP called “Searching” slated to drop on April 3 across all streaming platforms.
Featuring five songs, the EP will introduce the world to Ayo in ways that she hasn’t previously displayed. Known for her soulful Gospel voice and success within that genre, she has long harbored a love for pop and other styles of music. As such, “Searching” is her way of showcasing her mastery of multiple genres and sounds.
“This is me announcing I’m a pop artist,” she said. “And like many other people who search for something because all they want is to be free, this project is the ultimate example of me finding a new voice and finding that freedom.”
The five tracks on the EP include “Searching,” “Shinin’,” “Direction,” “Freedom” and “Out.” The title track explores the feelings that come with new discovery and the hope that often accompanies the challenges and fears of trying something new. She follows this up with “Shinin’,” a song that explores what it means to be a person of color in today’s world. As a young woman of Nigerian heritage, she said she’s experienced her share of racism in America but is glad to be part of a generation that is embracing diversity and “Shinin’” for the world to see.
With “Direction,” Ayo takes fans on a different turn by using faster, upbeat harmonies and progressions underneath a romantic song that’s equally inspired by Earth Wind and Fire, Charlie Puth and Michael Jackson.
“It’s basically about that scenario when you like a person and they don’t like you back but you’re hoping they’ll look your direction,” she said. “I think it’s a song people are really going to love.”
The last two tracks on the project round out her exploration of new sounds. They are also showcasing her one-of-a-kind voice which is already well known for its distinct tone and mixture of influences.
“When people hear me open my mouth and sing, they know it’s my voice,” she said. “I have a deeper voice that has been compared to Sarah Vaughan or Whitney Houston, and I’m very flattered when I hear that. I’m not always going to be traditional pop – I won’t be a cookie-cutter pop artist. I’ll infuse my music with jazz and a lot of other genres, but I love all kinds of music. After doing the Gospel thing and leading worship at a church for six or seven years, I realized there was a lot I wanted to say that people weren’t saying and I needed to do that in a genre other than Gospel. Struggling with suicide for instance, I felt like no one wanted to talk about it. We just walk around with a pretty face on the outside even though on the inside we’re dying. So I want to tell the story that people want to tell. This first EP is more of an introduction to this new sound I’m bringing to the world but ultimately, I want to be that person who talks about things like rape and sexual assault and delving into the complexities of mental health. I believe this new avenue will allow me the opportunity to talk about these things without being limited to a genre box. At the end of the day, I want to be an artist who is known for being completely raw and honest about the complexities of life.”
To listen to Ayo’s music or to follow her on social media, please visit:
EPK: https://www.canva.com/design/DADqkXv_WtY/view (ONLY WORKS WHEN COPIED AND PASTED)