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Ayi Jihu grew up in Leibo County in the Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture of Sichuan. Dance was one of her early hobbies. Her parents were farmers; however, her father died when she was just five or six, leaving Ayi to help her mother with farm chores, mainly raising ducks and chickens. She was exposed to traditional Yi ethnic music and dance from an early age, and found inspiration in the example of Qubi Awu, also an ethnic Yi from Sichuan, whose talents earned her a performance on China Central Television.
In 1994, Jihu's aunt brought her over to London. Her mother, who goes by the English name Cindy, also moved to the UK and remarried to a man named Samuel. She studied in The Leys School for Year 9 in the academic year of 1998-1999 in North B House. In her new country, she came into contact with a variety of musical styles in concerts and clubs she attended with her friends; R&B especially piqued her interest. Though living in the UK, she continued to observe a number of Yi traditions at home, including the Torch Festival.
Ayi Jihu was signed to Shlepp Records in 2007, with whom she released her first album, Try Me. She performed at Macau's Sands Casino in February of that year. In September 2008, she performed at the London Week of Peace concert in Trafalgar Square, singing an R&B song entitled "Winner".
In September 2010, the BBC released an article describing Ayi Jihu's rise to stardom, dubbing her the "Chinese Madonna" and claiming that she had been awarded a gold disc to commemorate 100 million downloads of her album by fans in China. However, a Xinhua News Agency report expressed suspicion of her claims, noting that she did not specify what organisation awarded her the alleged golden disc, and furthermore that the website of her label Shlepp Records did not list any singers under their management besides Ayi Jihu herself.
In April 2011, she was in the "Fear Chaser" Event on Adventure Quest World. This is where the player helps her defeat the Fears of Heights, the Fear of the Dark, and the Fear of Death.
- Lu Chaoran/吕超然 (September 2008), "剑桥彝族美女吉胡阿依:英国第一位Hip Hop中国女歌手/Cambridge ethnic Yi girl Jihu Ayi: UK's first Chinese female hip-hop artist", New Youth, retrieved 2010-01-05
- "四川籍彝族女孩进军英国乐坛：将举行欧美巡演/Sichuan ethnic Yi girl enters UK music industry: plans to tour Europe and US", Xinhua News, 2008-06-24, retrieved 2010-01-05
- "Ayi Jihu: The 'Chinese Madonna' of Cambridge", BBC News, 2010-09-10, retrieved 2011-02-22
- "进军英国乐坛的四川彝族女歌手/The Sichuan Yi girl advancing into the UK music industry", BBC News, 2008-06-08, retrieved 2010-01-19
- "伦敦鸽子广场的和平周音乐会/Week of Peace concert in London's Trafalgar Square", BBC China, 2008-09-11, retrieved 2010-01-05
- "华裔洗碗妹摇身变"中国麦当娜" 轰动英乐坛", Xinhua News, 2010-09-13, retrieved 2011-02-23
- Face FEAR itself on Friday, APRIL 15th, 2011., AdvertureQuest Worlds, 2011-04-19