Ayo-Dele is currently working on her project ‘Forever Becoming’ which combines her British and Nigerian influences expressed through songs and stories. Her latest colaboration is Naija, the Musical – a three year development project which she is co-devising and writing with UK based renown freelance theatre practitioner, Femi Elufowoju, jr.
Ayo-Dele Edwards is a London based singer/actress, who from an early age has been surrounded by various genres of music. As the fourth child born to Nigerian parents in London, Ayo-Dele has experienced countless blessings that have molded her into who she is today. Her name means ‘Joy has come home’ in Yoruba, a tribe and language spoken in Nigeria, Western Africa.
At the tender age of four, her family moved back home to Africa, where she adjusted to a new way of life, assimilating a new found culture through formative education and formulating new friendships. Surrounded by eclectic rhythms and sounds, Ayo-Dele became fixated with music a huge cultural signpost at every corner she turned. Merging her British musical repertoire with the African heritage was inevitable and grew into her main passion. She was often heard singing her favorite song ‘Brown Girl in the Ring’ by Boney M and occasionally instructed to keep the noise down. Her thirst for knowledge increased, and she would extemporize from ABBA to local musicians from her community.
Her early years in Nigeria saw Ayo-Dele living the life of a nomad, moving around and living with various members of the extended family – this was a very tough regime, as she had to modulate between a range of different rules and regulations. Through these transitions she pre-occupied herself by retelling stories that she had picked up along her travels. However, it was during a brief period living in Abeokuta that she felt herself particularly drawn to genre of music, which was to change her life, gospel. Whilst in Abeokuta, she lived next to a church and her fascination with the talking drums and heightened lyrical voices in worship emanating from the church.
At the age of ten, Ayo-Dele headed back to England where her older brother introduced her to the sounds of Rare Groove, Pop, R&B and Soul. With musical influences such as King Sunny Ade, Ebenezer Obey, Good Women Choir, Bob Marley and Fela Kuti behind her, her desire to sing accelerated. In 2002 she joined the award winning UK collective GK REAL and that musical journey took her on another life changing path.
Music hasn’t been the only creative direction that Ayo-Dele has taken. Drama became another interest, and led to formal training at Mountview where she studied for three years perfecting her skills and gaining experience. Prior to her further education, Ayo-Dele gave birth to her daughter, Anthonia and with the support from family, her new hectic schedule of juggling her motherly chores with her artistic creativity continued unabatedly. With determination and faith she completed her studies, which allowed her to take up roles in various musicals and plays for stage and radio. Her latest work combines British and Nigerian influences expressed through songs and stories.
Presently, Ayo-Dele has discovered another creative streak. She has taken to designing Snoods: a garment worn around the neck using Ankara (African prints). Since December 2010, this project has grown in strength through word-of mouth, and will be a prominent feature amongst a future series and production line of accessories.