Who Is TY Bello and How Did She Go From Photography To Being a Gospel Singer?

Toyin Sokefun Bello, who is widely known as TY Bello is a Nigerian singer, songwriter, photographer, and philanthropist. Bello has built a successful career in photography and gospel music out of her love for creativity which she uses music and portraits to express. She is a former member of the defunct gospel band, KUSH, and has released a couple of hit songs which include ‘Greenland’ and ‘Freedom’ for which she earned both local and international acclaim. As a certified photographer, TY Bello served as the official photographer for His Excellency, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan during his tenure as president.

Profile Summary Of TY Bello

  • Full Name: Toyin Sokefun Bello
  • Age: 43
  • State of Origin: Ogun State
  • Nationality: Nigerian
  • Occupation: Musician & Photographer
  • Marital Status: Married
  • Website: https://tybello.com/

TY Bello Is A Native Of Ogun State

TY Bello was born to the late Remi Sokefun and his wife. Her father was a well-known TV producer who interviewed top Nigerian entertainers during his time, including the likes of Fela Kuti. Bello and her family are from Ogun State, Nigeria, however, it is not known whether she was raised there. More so, for reasons best known to TY Bello, she has withheld information on her early education from the public. However, the 43-year-old singer has a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Lagos.

It is also known that she grew up as a member of the choir in her church and this contributed greatly to her success as a singer. During those days, the choir had to compose songs with the topic of the sermon for every Sunday – one can safely say her songwriting skills were honed here.

Her Journey As A Musician Started With KUSH

While TY Bello was an undergraduate at the University of Lagos, the songwriting skill she built in her budding days never departed from her as she continued to compose music and sing with the likes of Lara George, Dayo Torimiro, and Emen Ema. They later formed the gospel band KUSH, which means, Kinetically Ushering Salvation into Hearts and Homes. The band had their breakthrough with the single, ‘Let’s Live Together’ in the early 2000s however, their stint was short-lived and TY Bello went solo after the band dissolved.

In 2008, she released her debut solo album titled, ‘Greenland’ which described her everyday life and it was a huge success – she earned a Sound City Award and Nigeria Music Award. A few years later in 2011, she featured Tara Fela-Durotoye, Banky W, Sound Sultan, and Chude Jideonwo in the album, ‘Future’. The album was also a remarkable one as it ranked 12th on the Nigerian Entertainment Today’s list.

Sometime in December 2013, Bello released her single ‘Yahweh’ where she featured Wale Adenuga, Nwando Okeke, and Nosa. She also released ‘The Morning Songbook’, featuring Fela Durotoye and M Sugh. Other songs credited to her are ‘Land of Promise’, ‘Holy Ghost Air’, featuring Nathaniel Bassey, and ‘Bow Down’, which was produced by Samjazzy.

Recap of Her Albums:

  • Greenland (2008)
  • The Future (2011)
  • The Morning Songbook (2014)
  • Africa Awake (2021)

Did She Leave Photography For Music?

Contrary to popular belief, TY Bello was actually a singer before she ventured into photography. So, she did not pause photography for music rather, she started photography when her band failed back in the 2000s – a time when photography was not seen as a profession. However, with consistency and great expertise at what she does, TY Bello has proved that photography is an honorable profession and has created an enabling environment and platforms for upcoming photographers to showcase their work.

People who inspired her in photography are Jide Adeniyi Jones, Akinbode Akinbiyi, and Jackie Phillips. The talented photographer actually focuses on portrait photography and during an interview in 2018, she stated that she is fascinated by the human face. Nonetheless, she still does documentaries and conceptual photography which are usually iconic and always capture the interest of people.

More so, professional photography has taken TY Bello to the corridors of power as she has photographed 3 Nigerian presidents and was the official photographer for the former president, Goodluck Jonathan. Her profile generally includes the high and mighty A-list celebrities in Nigeria. It is therefore not a surprise that TY Bello also works with Thisday Fashion Magazine, a popular Nigerian fashion magazine.

Recognitions Under TY Bello’s Name

Bello’s contribution to the creative art industry in Nigerian has not gone without being recognized as she began to gather accolades from the early years of her career. In 2008, Nigeria Entertainment Awards gave her the Best New Act of the Year and was nominated for The Headies for Recording Artiste of the Year that same year. She has also been nominated for Hip Hop World Revelation of the Year for her song “Ekundayo” as Best Vocal Performance (Female) and has landed a nomination for “Greenland” as Best Music Video (Director).

In 2009, the singer won a Soundcity Music Video Award for her song “Ekundayo” as the Best Female Video. Later on, in July 2011, TY Bello was honored by the non-profit Communication for Change Organization in a 5-part documentary film series titled RedHot.
More so, the talented singer was nominated alongside 25 others for the 10 Outstanding Young Persons Awards in 2017.

In October 2011, Bello was one of the celebrities featured in an eight-minute anti-rape video documentary 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 2011. TY Bello also partnered with Canon for ‘Live For the Story’ campaign in early 2018. The campaign was a call for everyday Nigerians to tell their personal stories on what makes Nigeria unique.

TY Bello Is Notable For Her Many Charity Works

TY Bello is really passionate about helping the less privileged, orphans and children. To contribute her quota to society, she organizes an annual photography exhibition to raise funds for orphans across Nigeria. She also belongs to Link-A-Child, a non-governmental organization (NG0) responsible for creating rapid awareness for orphanages in Nigeria and seeking sponsorships for them. The vibrant entertainer is also at the forefront of women’s rights advocacy and fights against gender-based violence.

However, the most popular of her selfless service to humanity is the uplifting of ‘Olajumoke the bread seller to super model’. TY Bello discovered the lady on the streets of Lagos while she was working on a photo session with Tinnie Tempah, a Nigerian-British rapper. Olajumoke coincidentally walked by with her tray of bread on her head while TY Bello photographed. As soon as pictures were posted on social media, people thought the bread seller was a model who was also featured in the photoshoot. This stirred up TY’s interest and following through with her instincts, she helped Olajumoke build a modeling career. Olajumoke Orisaguna is now a model and she was made the face of the PayPorte campaign, as well as the ambassador of Stanbic IBTC in 2016.

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