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Ayo warsaw november2008.jpg
At the National Theatre in Warsaw, 19. November 2008 (photo by Bartek Kucharczyk)
Background information
Birth name Joy Olasunmibo Ogunmakin
Also known as Ayọ, Ayo.
Born (1980-09-14) 14 September 1980 (age 36)
Origin Cologne, Germany
Genres Folk, Soul, Reggae
Occupation(s) Singer, Songwriter, Actress
Instruments Guitar, Piano
Years active 2001-present
Labels Mercury France & Motown (Universal), MBM Records
Website www.ayomusic.com

Ayọ (born as Joy Olasunmibo Ogunmakin, 14 September 1980) is a Nigerian-German singer-songwriter and actress. She uses the Yoruba translation Ayọ or Ayo. of her first name Joy.

Her debut album Joyful, which was first released in 2006, reached Double-Platinum status in France, Platinum in Germany and Poland, Gold status in Switzerland and Italy and Greece. The album was released in the United States on 20 November 2007 by Interscope Records.

Ayọ was born in Frechen near Cologne, Germany. She has a son, Nile, who was born in late 2005 and a daughter, Billie-Eve, born July 2010,[1] with the Afro-German reggae singer Patrice, from whom she is now separated.[2] At the end of 2007, she moved with her family to the Greenwich Village section of Manhattan in New York City.[3] At present she lives in Brooklyn, New York[4] with her children.

Then-president of UNICEF France, Jacques Hintzy, announced on 4 February 2009 that the singer was named patron of UNICEF to promote the right to education for all children in the world.[5]

The French production company MK2 produced 2009 the film Ayo Joy a 90-minute documentary about the singer and her life. The film was directed by Raphaël Duroy.[6][7]


Early years[edit]

Ayọ was born near Cologne, Germany as the fourth child of a Nigerian father and a Romani mother from Romania but as a baby lived for a short time in Nigeria.[8] She has one sister and two brothers. When she was about six years old her mother became addicted to heroin and spent some time in jail. After her parents divorced, she and two of her siblings spent periods of time in care and with foster families. She spent four years in a children's home in Schwalmtal-Waldniel where she learned to play violin and piano[9][10] and became in 1992 a member of its music band "La Taste".[11] When she was fourteen she was considered old enough by the authorities to live again with her father.

Monaco, 30. August 2007 (photo by Lionel Urman)

Musical career[edit]

At the age of six, Ayọ played the violin for a short time, then turned to the piano and later taught herself to play the guitar. While she was member of the band "La Taste" during her stay at the children's home in Waldniel she and eighteen other young band members recorded during summer 1992 the CD Kido Musik[11][12] at the recording studio "Man Made Noise".[13] During that time she also appeared for the first time in May 1993 in a music video, La Maladie d`Amour,[14][15] and performed at a public concert.[16]

When she was about 15, she wrote her first song, which was about her mother, and which helped her to cope with her traumatic childhood. Her musical taste was influenced by her father's large selection of vinyl albums which included Pink Floyd, Fela Kuti, Donny Hathaway, Jimmy Cliff and Bob Marley. When her father, who worked part-time as a DJ while studying engineering in Germany, discovered her singing talent he recorded a first demo tape with her in a studio and allowed her to drop out of school at the age of eighteen.

At twenty-one Ayọ moved to London and later lived in Paris and New York City. During her time in Paris her musical talent was noticed by a broader audience, and she gave her first solo concerts, opened 2002 for soul singers Omar and Cody Chesnutt, and signed a contract with Polydor Records.

At the Paradiso (Amsterdam), 13. September 2007

Shortly after giving birth to her son Nile, she recorded her first album Joyful in January 2006 in the New York Sony studio. The whole disc was recorded in just five days under live conditions, with a group of musicians organized by her producer Jay Newland. The album was released in June 2006 in Europe and Korea and in November 2007 in the United States and Japan.

At the end of 2007, Ayọ started a concert tour through Germany and the United States. On her American tour she performed with Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds.[17] On 10 January 2008 she appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman, and on 26 January 2008 The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, performing her song Down on My Knees. In June 2008 the singer started her second tour through the United States and Canada.

Ayọ 2011 (photo by Nicolas Esposito)

On 10 March 2008, Ayọ started recording on her second album Gravity At Last at the Compass Point Studios in Nassau on the Island of New Providence, The Bahamas. She is co-producing the album with Jay Newland. Her band includes Keith Christopherson (bass), Larry Campbell (guitars and other string instruments), Lucky Peterson (keyboards), Sherrod Barnes (guitar/vocals) and Jermaine Parrish (drums). The album with 13 tracks written and composed by the singer was recorded in only 5 days and was released at the end of September 2008 by Universal Music France.[18] The album reached number 1 on the French album charts in October.[19] On 21. November 2008 Ayọ started her promotion tour for the album in Berlin which includes around 30 concerts in five European countries.

In 2008, Ayo won an EBBA Award for her album Joyful.[20] Every year the European Border Breakers Awards recognize the success of ten emerging artists or groups who reached audiences outside their own countries with their first internationally released album in the past year.

Ayọ's third album Billie-Eve, named after her daughter, was recorded in New York with the cooperation of musicians like Craig Ross (guitarist of Lenny Kravitz), the rapper Saul Williams, Matthieu Chedid and Gail Ann Dorsey, bass player of David Bowie. The album is first released on 7 March 2011 in France and Ayọ starts a promotional tour through France and Poland on 21 March 2011. Ayọ signed with MBM Records in 2011 in the US. Billie-Eve was released in the United States on 20 March 2012.[21] End of 2011 the singer moved within the Universal Group from the Polydor label to the labels Mercury France and Motown.[22][23]

Ayọ during her 2014 tour at Bush Hall, London (photo by Aurélien Le Roch)

In 2013, Ayọ started to record her fourth album Ticket To The World, which was released on 7 October 2013, with the producer Jay Newland who produced also her first two albums.[24][25] The first single from this album, Fire, has been released on 10 June 2013. A second version of the single featuring the French rapper Youssoupha was released in August 2013.[26] After the album release Ayọ tours from end of October 2013 for several months through Europe. Most concerts take place in France but she also performs in Luxembourg, Switzerland, Belgium, Poland, Germany, UK and other countries.[27]

Ayọ was asked by Arte to cover the classic song Sunny by Bobby Hebb as soundtrack for their 2013 Summer of Soul program. From 14 July to 18 August 2013 she presents every Sunday evening this program on the French TV broadcast.[28][29] The soundtrack was released on 14 July 2013 in France on a special three CD edition by Fnac.[30]

On March 10, 2014 at Le Lido, Ayọ won the category 'Best Female Singer' of the Globes de Cristal Award, which is bestowed by members of the French Press Association recognizing excellence in French art and culture.[31] The other nominees in that category were Carla Bruni, HollySiz, Vanessa Paradis and Zaz.[32]

In 2014 Ayọ organized in Paris undercover with an amateur choir a flash mob in the restaurant Rotonde de la Villette where she sang with the choir her song Who. The film about the action 'Mission Incognito: Ayo', directed by Lorenz Findeisen, was shown on the French-German TV network Arte in August 2014. Other episodes of this series featured the artists Rolando Villazón, Jim Avignon and Ulrich Matthes.[33]

Ayọ was awarded the Grand Prize for SACEM repertoire abroad on 24 October 2014 at Olympia, Paris.[34][35]

On 21 June 2015 Ayọ released a self-made music video on YouTube (renamed to Send This Message To All Your Friends on the 22 June 2015) featuring the song Boom Boom,[36] which she has written 10 months previously and so far only performed at live concerts, to react to the ongoing racial violence in the United States. She announced the release on her official social media accounts on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.[37]

In an interview in July 2015 Ayọ said that she has left the label Universal after ten years of cooperation because artists become objects in the music industry and she wants to be free.[38]

Acting career[edit]

In April 2014 Ayọ's concert tour was interrupted for several weeks as she played the lead role in the movie Murder in Pacot (Meurtre à Pacot) by the award-winning Haitian filmmaker Raoul Peck, which was filmed in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in April and May 2014.[39] This is the singers first appearance as an actress in a feature film.[40][41] The film describes how the life of a rich family in Haiti changes after the 2010 earthquake. Besides Ayọ the film features French actors Alex Descas and Thibault Vinçon and Haitian poet and novice actress Kermonde Lovely Fifi. The script was co-written by the Haitian novelist and poet Lyonel Trouillot[42] and the screenwriter Pascal Bonitzer. The production is supported by the French TV channel Arte, the World Cinema Fund[43] and the European Union.[44] The film will make its world premier at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival on 5 September 2014.[45][46] The European premiere of the film was in the Panorama category of the 65th Berlin International Film Festival on 7 February 2015.[47][48] Ayọ, the other leading actors, producer Remi Grellety, and director Raoul Peck attended the second screening of the film on 10 February at the Zoo Palast[49] after a photocall and press conference at the Grand Hyatt hotel.[50]

Ayọ (Joy Ogunmakin) is part of the cast of the German science fiction drama VOLT written and directed by Tarek Ehlail which was filmed around Cologne and scheduled for release in 2016. The German-French co-production is produced by augenschein-Filmproduktion and Les Films D’Antoine. Ayọ plays the role of LaBlanche besides actors Benno Fürmann, Denis Moschitto and Stipe Erceg.[51] Ayọ Ogunmakin has been nominated in the category 'German Cinema New Talent Award: Actor' at the Filmfest München 2016 for her role in VOLT.[52] The film has its world premiere screening in Munich on the 24. June 2016.[53]




  • Summer of Soul (2013, French Arte TV)
  • Mission Incognito: Ayo (2014, ARTE)




  1. ^ "Ma rencontre avec le chanteur Patrice". Trucs de Nana. 2010-07-29. Retrieved 2010-07-29. 
  2. ^ Thierry Coljon (2013-10-16). "La grande famille d'Ayo". Le Soir. Retrieved 2013-11-10. 
  3. ^ Chris Jordan (2007-12-07). "The future looks bright for Afro-German singer Ayo". Home News Tribune. Retrieved 2007-11-15. [permanent dead link]
  4. ^ Ade-Brown, Lathleen (2015-06-25). "7 Things to Know About Nigerian-German Singer Ayo". Essence. Retrieved 2015-10-01. 
  5. ^ "La chanteuse Ayo devient marraine de l'UNICEF". UNICEF. 2015-06-26. Retrieved 2015-09-29. 
  6. ^ MK2 Catalogue: Ayo Joy[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ "Clairefontaine sponsorise un documentaire sur Ayo". Stratégies.fr. 2009-04-27. Retrieved 2009-06-03. 
  8. ^ Jane Gordon (16 October 2007). "'I saw things a child should never see', says soul singer, Ayo". The Daily Mail (UK). Retrieved 2009-04-21. 
  9. ^ Patrick Fouque (19 November 2013). ""...je fuis l'orphelinat en Allemagne" Ayo". Paris Match. Retrieved 19 June 2014. 
  10. ^ Kirchen Zeitung für das Bistum Aachen
  11. ^ a b La Taste Mitglieder von 1989 bis heute
  12. ^ Sommer 1992: Produktion der ersten La Taste – CD: „Kido Musik“
  13. ^ Referenzen, CD Produktionen
  14. ^ Projekte Mai 1993 Videoclip: „La Maladie d`Amour“
  15. ^ La Maladie d`Amour (video clip)
  16. ^ Stefan Adler (March 1994). "Heimaterde unter den Füßen spüren" (PDF). Grenzland-Kurier, Rheinische Post. Retrieved 23 June 2014. 
  17. ^ Interscope Archived 27 November 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
  18. ^ AYO revient avec un nouvel album, Gravity At Last
  19. ^ lescharts.com Archived 27 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
  20. ^ Border Breaker Winners 2008
  21. ^ The Wall Street Journal
  22. ^ Marolle, Emmanuel (4 November 2011). "Ayo change de label et s'invente un double". Le Parisian. Retrieved 4 September 2013. 
  23. ^ Ayo signed to Mercury & Motown
  24. ^ Joe D'Ambrosio Management - Jay Newland
  25. ^ Charts in France
  26. ^ "Fire" Ayo feat. Youssoupha
  27. ^ Bandsintown
  28. ^ Arte TV Archived 11 June 2013 at the Wayback Machine.
  29. ^ Le Figaro (in French)
  30. ^ Summer of Soul Arte - Edition spéciale
  31. ^ Les larmes d' Ayo aux Globes de Cristal : "C’est la première fois dans ma vie que je gagne quelque chose pour ma musique"
  32. ^ Des Globes de Cristal pour récompenser les oubliés de l'art
  33. ^ "Mission Incognito: Ayo". Arte. Archived from the original on 26 August 2014. Retrieved 23 August 2014. 
  34. ^ Le palmarès des Grands prix de la Sacem dévoilé
  35. ^ Ceremony Grands Prix SACEM at the Olympia Monday, November 24
  36. ^ 'Send This Message To All Your Friends' music video
  37. ^ 'Boom Boom' music video release announcement
  38. ^ "Les mots d'Ayo, doux et révoltés". La Provence. 22 July 2015. Retrieved 23 July 2015. 
  39. ^ Director Raoul Peck shoots new quake film in Haiti
  40. ^ Mescher, Keno (13 March 2014). "Dreharbeiten auf Haiti". Funkhaus Europa. Archived from the original on 12 February 2015. Retrieved 17 March 2014. 
  41. ^ UBBA artists agency
  42. ^ Daniel, Trenton (12 April 2014). "Director Raoul Peck begins production on earthquake drama in Haiti". Winnipeg Free Press. Retrieved 13 April 2014. 
  43. ^ World Cinema Fund, Funding of international cooperations in film production and distribution
  44. ^ Haïti-Cinéma : Raoul Peck annonce le tournage à P-au-P de son nouveau film « Meurtre à Pacot »
  45. ^ Punter, Jennie (19 August 2014). "Toronto Film Festival Completes Lineup". Variety. Retrieved 20 August 2014. 
  46. ^ Houpt, Simon (19 August 2014). "TIFF unveils dozens of big Hollywood names on guest list, including Robert Downey Jr. and Keira Knightley". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 20 August 2014. 
  47. ^ Panorama 2015: Geschichte erzählen, um Zukunft zu gestalten
  48. ^ BERLINALE 2015: les premiers films de la section Panorama
  49. ^ Schwartz, Arnaud (11 February 2015). "Raoul Peck revient à Berlin sur le tremblement de terre en Haïti". La Croix. Retrieved 12 February 2015. 
  50. ^ "'Murder in Pacot' photocall". Yahoo! Lifestyle, UK & Ireland. 10 February 2015. Retrieved 12 February 2015. 
  51. ^ a b Volt
  52. ^ Candidates for the New German Cinema New Talent Award
  53. ^ VOLT screening at the Filmfest München 2016
  54. ^ Starpulse.com
  55. ^ European Border Breakers Awards
  56. ^ Meilleur interprète féminine:" Ayo" Globes de cristal 2014 - 10/03/2014 Archived 11 March 2014 at the Wayback Machine.

External links[edit]