Who has dark-eyes, full brows, big hair, raspy alto voice, uplifting songs and exceptional photography skills? The one and only TY Bello; a Nigerian musician, photographer and philanthropist. The University of Lagos alumni initially blew us away a decade ago when she debuted in the celebrated urban Gospel group, KUSH with Lara George, Emem, and Dapo Torimiro. The first artistes to perform at the Nigerian Corner at Notting Hill in 2003, they went their separate ways after their debut album, despite the huge success of the group, but the story was far from ended.
Although it seemed as though they had dropped from the radar for good, work was in progress behind the scenes. After spending two years in the studio, TY Bello’s much awaited solo album- Green Land was released in 2008 to huge acclaim for the message of hope and love which was an underlying theme throughout the album. From love, to family to nation, the title track of the album, ‘the Land is Green’ lifts Nigerians from a place of despair to a place of hope.
‘Ekundayo’-another song on the album- tells about her first encounter with Mrs. Ekundayo who runs Ekundayo Children’s Home, an orphanage in Isanlu, Kogi State. “The song is about a conversation between Toyin Subair myself and Mrs. Ekundayo. That conversation made me realize how empty my life was. I saw someone who was doing a lot more than I was and had much less than I did.” Thoughts to ponder…
In 2011, TY released another soul-moving, patriotism-inspiring song, ‘The Future.’ On her webpage, she relates the story behind the song. “I had committed to writing a jubilee song for Nigeria. I was moved to hone in on my message on December 31, 2010 when we were shocked by the Abuja bombings. In my view, the bombings are a metaphor of the hopelessness and impending tragedy that may lie ahead if we do not become more engaged in building the country we desire. I realize that the crisis in the nation is beyond the political. We each need to personalize Project Nigeria and take a stand for Nigeria NOW. And so, the first lines of the song are about just how important we are as a generation at this time in our history.”
TY is also an internationally acclaimed portrait photographer who has captured Presidents, Governors, celebrities and socialites on the lenses of her camera. About her seemingly divergent talents, TY shares, “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 is a sought-after cover ‘girl’ on the pages of the trendiest magazines, and her sheer simplicity and unassuming poise always add the star quality to the covers. In 2011, she collaborated with Nigerian make up brand and training company House of Tara to launch the “Jubilee Collection “brand of make-up.
TY stages an annual photography exhibition to raise funds for orphans across the country. She is also a Director of Link-a-child; an NGO dedicated to propagating information on orphanages in Nigeria and soliciting sponsorship on their behalf.
This woman of excellence doesn’t seem ready to stop her roll anytime soon, and why should she? She has proven that it is possible to be outstanding at everything you do. What’s her secret? I think I might have an idea because as I read through her twitter posts, I see this: “In God’s presence, hope is re-birthed…always. In worship, we see Him as He is and He sprinkles us with grace to see how beautiful we are.” Hope, rebirthed in God; thatsall.