Toyin Sokefun-Bello (born 14 January), better known as TY Bello, is a Nigerian singer, songwriter, photographer and philanthropist. Prior to pursuing a solo career, she was a member of the defunct gospel band Kush. TY Bello is also a member of the Nigerian photography collective, Depth of Field. She is best known for her singles “Greenland”, “Ekundayo”, “This Man”, “Freedom” and “Funmise”.
Life and career
TY Bello was born in Ogun State. She attained a degree in economics from the University of Lagos. She briefly practiced journalism and eventually ventured into photography.TY Bello emerged onto Nigeria’s musical landscape as a member of the defunct group Kush, an acronym for Kinetically Ushering Salvation into Hearts and Homes. Other members of the group included Lara George, Dapo Torimiro and rapper Emem Ema. Kush gained popularity in the early 2000s with the single “Let’s Live Together”; the group managed to release an album before disbanding. TY Bello was the official photographer to former President Goodluck Jonathan during his tenure in office; she also does work for Thisday fashion magazine.
“Art is about collecting experiences and expressing them. For me music and photography are similar art forms. I collect experiences, stir them in myself and express it in my own language. Just like my photography, music is my language.”
-TY Bello, speaking about her photography and music
In 2008, TY Bello released her debut studio album Greenland. It was produced by Mosa Adegboye and took two years to develop. The album earned her a Nigeria Music Award as well as a Sound City Award. TY Bello describes the album as a journey of her everyday life. The music of Greenland embodies the themes of love, family and nation. The album’s title track is an inspirational song written to motivate Nigerians to liberate themselves from a place of despair, to a place of hope.
2011–13:The Future, The Jubilee Collection and anti-rape campaign
TY Bello first revealed plans about her second studio album, The Future, while speaking to Ariya Today. The album was originally slated for a 2011 release, and was ranked 12th on Nigerian Entertainment Today’s list of the 12 Albums To Buy In 2011. The singer said she worked with producer Mosa and recorded the album in a few months. On 19 February 2011, TY Bello released “The Future” as the lead single from the album of the same name. The song urges Nigerian youth to be the change they seek. The music video for the song, directed by Kemi Adetiba, was released on 3 April 2011; it features cameo appearances from Tara Fela-Durotoye, Sound Sultan, Chude Jideonwo and Banky W. Ore Fakorede gave the song a rating of 7 out of 10 stars, adding that its “soft tribal drums, synths and a piano provide a vivid backdrop for TY to contrast her unmistakable voice against, and this she does brilliantly, bringing the poignancy in the song’s lyrics to life.” Dapo Osewa of Sahara Reporters described the video as “a narrative in itself that dares to capture the varying and boundless composition of emotion that is the face of the Nigerian.” Makeup brand House of Tara launched The Jubilee Collection, a limited edition line of makeup inspired by TY Bello’s “The Future” single.
In October 2011, TY Bello was one of the celebrities featured in an eight-minute anti-rape video compiled by the Nigerian Ministry of Youth Development. The anti-rape video shed light on the victim of a gang rape at Abia State University in September 2011. In December 2013, TY Bello released her single “Yahweh” featuring Wale Adenuga. The song features additional vocals from Nwando Okeke and Mosa. The first line of the song was written in 2004 during a photo-shoot.
2014:The Morning Songbook
On 10 October 2014, TY Bello released her third studio album, The Morning Songbook, for free digital download via SoundCloud. It was released without any promotion and comprises 10 tracks, including “Yahweh”, “Thirsty” and “Jesu Jesu”. The album features collaborations with M Sugh and Fela Durotoye. Udochukwu Ikwuagwu of the Breaking Times gave the album a rating of 7 out of 10, while stating that it is “a well composed album though the themes seem (-ed) ‘all-familiar’. TY Bello and Mosa deserve credit for the superb songwriting and production employed on this. At times, the vocal performance was bolstered by emotions rather than actual dexterity but the ease deployed by the back-up choristers made this ignorable. This project is one worth every dime even though it was given free; this project is one that will endure for a long while.”
2016: Tinie Tempah and a discovery
Bello was working in Lagos where was she was creating a photo shoot for the British rapper Tinie Tempah. She later discovered that there was a remarkable looking woman in the background. In an attempt to find Olajumoke Orisaguna she arranged for her Orisaguna’s picture to appear on the cover of Style magazine.
TY Bello organizes an annual photography exhibition to raise funds for orphans in Nigeria. She is also the director of Link-a-child, an NGO dedicated to proliferating information on orphanages in Nigeria and seeking sponsorship on their behalf. In July 2011, TY Bello was honored by the non-profit Communication For Change organization in a five-part documentary film series titled RedHot.
TY Bello married Kashetu Bello in 2009. The couple gave birth to twin boys named Christian and Christopher on 10 October 2014, which coincidentally marked the release of The Morning Songbook.