TY Bello: My life has been one of music, photography | The Guardian Nigeria News

Toyin Sokefun-Bello, better known as TY Bello, is a singer, songwriter and photographer. Born in Ogun State, she earned a degree in economics from the University of Lagos and briefly practiced journalism before pursuing a career in photography. Prior to pursuing a solo career, she was a member of the now defunct gospel group, Kinetically Ushering Salvation into Hearts and Homes (KUSH). TY Bello is also a member of the Nigerian photography collective Depth of Field. She is best known for her singles, ‘Greenland’, ‘Ekdayo’, ‘This Man’, ‘Freedom’ and ‘Funmise’.

She started photography when her group disbanded, at a time when photography was not taught as a profession. She then created a conducive environment and platforms for future photographers to showcase their work. TY Bello, who has photographed three sitting presidents, was former president Goodluck Jonathan’s official photographer. In this interview with IJEOMA THOMAS-ODIA, she shares her passion for photography and her latest album.

What do you think of the appreciation of photography and its art?
What is exciting is that in Nigeria, it is good to know that we are in the season where creativity develops in a new way. It’s not like an option anymore. Before, when I was starting out and becoming a photographer, creativity was always a second option. But realizing that for the future, creativity is the way to go, everything else has become a second option. It’s good to see that photography is a language that everyone speaks now. Without owning a camera, just your phone and you are a photographer. And it’s beautiful to see that because Nigerians are high-achieving people by nature. It feels good to see that the average Nigerian is beginning to understand visual languages ​​better. It is now part of our culture. So I’m really excited.

When did you decide to make music?
It was at the same time. I think my photographic career and my musical career started in 2000 at exactly the same time. It was as if I was working on two things at once. And I was looking for a way to juggle the two. It’s very hard but it’s been my life.

What inspires your style of music?
To me, singing is like talking, and a lot of the music I make is just heartfelt. I try to make the words that come out of my mouth, everything that I feel inside, come out naturally. It’s not me necessarily trying to be emotional. I’m just trying to be sincere.

How do you define your style?
I don’t think I have defined my style. I just ride. I guess I’m comfortable. I try to keep it comfortable and easy, and I don’t like to think too much about what I’m wearing. I keep it very simple so it’s not another thing I have to think about.

You have that signature eyebrow that you wear comfortably. What informed him?
I think everyone should respect their eyebrows. If God gives you a little, shake it. If God gives you a lot, take advantage of it. I think the most important thing is that I’ve found that we’re very successful when we’re not augmenting what’s already on our faces. So I just try to stay comfortable with what I have. My eyebrows don’t look great when you shave them, they grow right back, so I stopped caring about that a long time ago.

How does motherhood treat you?
It’s just wonderful.

How would you describe yourself?
I guess I’m just living, loving God and finding my way.

I remember your time with KUSH. How would you say you have evolved?
Daily. As I always say, I always find my way. I find out that life is a gift, and we don’t know anything. We learn day by day. So I keep my mind open and I follow my heart.

What else should we expect from you?
More work on music and photography. I released a new album recently. It’s called “We Are Fire” and it’s a session I had with some really creative young musicians and I’m so glad we can share our hearts. I also do a lot of collaborations with other people including Tope Alabi.

Most of your music lately is spiritual in nature. Are you a pastor?
No I’m not. I just love God.

What is your message to the young photographers who admire you?
I say keep pushing, the world is your audience. When you do a good job, it’s not just your neighbors or your friends watching, it’s the whole world. So keep pushing, you never know what’s going to happen.

Stewart C. Hartline