The sounds of diverse artists like Luciano Pavarotti, Sade, Fela Kuti, Ella Fitzgerald, Diana Ross, Barbara Streisand, Marvin Gaye and Aretha Franklin tickled the earbuds of Ayo Awosika as she grew up in Northern Virginia outside the Washington D.C. area. By the time she was in middle school, Ayo knew that a music career was the only one she could choose to passionately pursue.
"Music has been a way for me to figure out what I'm feeling or what I want to say when words aren't good enough."
The classically trained vocalist has transferred her aptitude for opera and art song to the world of jazz and beyond. Ayo brings new life and interpretation to jazz standards heard many times over. She has aimed to be a musician with substance, ability and originality. Ayo's influences include her surroundings and observations. She's an American artist with a heritage rooted in West Africa, with international influences that stem from from her travels to Europe and Asia. Now an adult, she plans to return to Nigeria, to continue her musical education in cultural traditions and landscape of her father's homeland.
Early on in her career, Ayo had the opportunity to learn from jazz greats like Ellis Marsalis, and the privilege of sharing the stage with Peter Eldridge of The New York Voices, bassist/singer Esperanza Spalding, and members of Tower of Power.
Ayo has mixed her love for the complexity of jazz and soul with the honesty of folk and roots music, working to find the place where these worlds meet in her songwriting. For the past three years, Colorado happened to be that meeting place; a retreat where she has been able to reflect on her training at Berklee College of Music, and transform the tools from her education into practical application.
"Colorado's nurturing environment has allowed me to own my artistry ... it's given me freedom and openness to explore these songs."
The 2009 independent release of "Hearts, Words & Other Forgotten Things," an EP of original songs, written (with a few co-writes with her guitar player and friend Adam Tressler) and produced by Ayo, showcases the growth and maturity of her unique style. It's allowed her to carve a niche for herself as a vocalist with prowess beyond her years.