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Soul Singer Ayo Has 'Nothing to Hide'

Ayo calls her music "regg-afro-folk," referring to a mix of reggae, R&B and folk sounds.
Olivier Laban-Mattei
/
AFP/Getty Images
Ayo calls her music "regg-afro-folk," referring to a mix of reggae, R&B and folk sounds.

The latest musical sensation from Europe, German-born singer Ayo Ogunmakin is celebrating the U.S. release of her new album, Joyful, which has already seen double-platinum success in France.

Born to a Nigerian father and a Romanian mother, the 27-year-old singer-songwriter — whose name means "joy" in Yoruba — has experienced her share of hardship and pain.

As a youngster, Ayo was sent to foster care after seeing her mother descend into heroin addiction. She says her experiences have influenced the openness that many have come to appreciate about her music.

"When I started singing about my life ... suddenly, it was my own voice," Ayo says.

That voice works in a soulful and eclectic mixture of genres.

"I call it regg-afro-folk," she says, referring to a mix of reggae, R&B and folk sounds. "You can't really name it. ... It's like a big mix."

The mix seems to come naturally to Ayo. Her father was a '70s disc jockey, and that helped foster her appreciation for a range of artists, from Bob Marley to Donnie Hathaway to Pink Floyd.

In addition to the breakout success of her first solo album, Ayo is experiencing the joys of motherhood with the birth of her son, Nile.

Here, Ayo performs songs from Joyful and talks about her plans to take the music world by storm.

Written and produced for the Web by Lee Hill.

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