Toyin Sokefun-Bello popularly known as T. Y. Bello was born
on a 12th Day of January. She is a Nigerian singer, songwriter,
photographer and philanthropist. Before she separated herself to pursue a solo
career, she was one of the defunct gospel band group called Kush. She is
equally a member of the Nigerian photography collective, Depth of Field.
TY Bello is an indigene of Ogun State of Nigeria. She studied
economics at the University of Lagos. After her studies, she practiced
journalism for a while and then went into photography.
Being a talented musician, TY Bello also explores the music world, as she was once a member of
the defunct group KUSH, which stands for Kinetically Ushering Salvation into
Hearts and Homes. The group was formerly made up of individuals like Lara
George, Dapo Torimiro and rapper Emem Ema. The group was very popular in the early
2000s especially when they dropped the single “Let’s Live Together”;
they later managed to release an album before they eventually disbanded. Apart
from being a musician, TY Bello is the official photographer to President Goodluck
Ebele Jonathan, the Former President of
the Federal Republic of Nigeria. She also works for Thisday fashion magazine.
In the year 2008, TY Bello released her debut studio album,
which she called Greenland. The album, which took two years to develop, was produced
by Mosa Adegboye. TY Bello earned herself a Nigeria Music Award as well as a
Sound City Award on account of the Album. She personally describes the album as
a journey of her everyday life. Her music of Greenland is an embodiment of
family, love and nation. It’s title track can best be described as song
written to motivate Nigerians, and to liberate them from a place of despair
to a place of hope.
TY Bello later discloses plans about her second studio album
titled “The Future”, while speaking to Ariya Today. The album, which was
originally slated for a 2011 release, was ranked as number 12 on Nigerian
Entertainment Today ‘s list of the 12 Albums To Buy In the year 2011. TY Bello
herself, disclose that she worked with producer Mosa and recorded the album in
a few months. On February 19 2011, TY Bello released “The Future” as
the lead single from an album that has the same name. In the song, TY Bello implores
the Nigerian youth to be the change they seek. Kemi Adetiba later directed The
music video for the song, which was released on April 3, 2011; The music video features
cameo appearances from Banky W, Chude Jideonwo,Tara Fela-Durotoye and Sound
Sultan. The song was given the rating of 7 out of 10 stars by Ore Fakorede who
also believed that the spice of soft tribal drums, piano and synths, provided a
vivid backdrop for TY Bello, and contrasted her unmistakable voice. Achieving
that, brought out the poignancy in the
song’s lyrics to life.
In October 2011, the Nigerian Ministry of Youth Development,
compiled an eight-minutes anti-rape video, and TY Bello was one of the Nigerian
celebrities featured in the video. The anti-rape video threw light on the
September 2011 victim of a gang rape, at Abia State University. In December
2013, TY Bello’s single “Yahweh” featuring Wale Adenuga was released.
On October 10, 2014, TY Bello released her third studio
album, titled “The Morning Songbook”, for free digital download through SoundCloud.
The audio was not promoted , and comprises 10 tracks which includes “Jesu Jesu“, “Thirsty” and “Yahweh“. The album
features collaborations with M Sugh and Fela Durotoye. A rating of 7 out of 10
was given to the album by Udochukwu Ikwuagwu of the Breaking Times.
In the year 2016, while Bello was photographing the British
rapper Tinie Tempah, one bread seller named Jumoke walked into the photo shoot. Tempah, the
Nigerian-British record producer, rapper and singer was on a visit to Nigeria,
and took part in shots with TY Bello. The moment did
not look special at all, at least for the fact that Jumoke stood there a little confused.
Co passers-by were asking her to leave the set while others were
asking her to stay. Bello then signaled if it was ok to take her photograph and
she agreed by nodding, and Bello carelessly pressed on her photo shutter so
Jumoke could move ahead.
However, before Jumoke’s arrival, Bello’s subject of
interest was an Okada rider that had slowed down. Bello believes that Okada
riders have a cool way of adding a bit of swag to street portraits. She paid
Jumoke such little attention but she later noticed that every frame with her in
it was perfect.
When the particular edition of THISDAY Style came out the
following week and Jumoke’s images hit social media, questions and comments
started to fly and social media users began to ask: Was she a model? How did
the photographer convince the model to balance all that bread on her head?
The buzz about her multiplied when Bello clarified that she
indeed wasn’t a model at all but simply a bread-seller who stumbled on her set.
It was only then that it downed on Bello to begin her search for Olajumoke, if
these many people felt she was beautiful enough to be a model, then, she was
definitely meant to be one! Bello immediately conceived a way to make it
In an attempt to find Jumoke later, Bello arranged for her
picture to appear on the cover of Style magazine. When she was eventually
discovered, she was offered a modelling contract, internships and work, despite
not being fluent in English language. The deal made her husband and her other
child to moved to Lagos to join in her good fortune.
TY Bello engages in humanitarian work by organizing annual
photography exhibition, which she uses to raise funds for orphans in Nigeria.
She is equally the director of “Link-a-child”, an NGO dedicated to proliferating
information on orphanages in Nigeria and using same to seek sponsorship on
their behalf. In July 2011, a Not For
Profit Organization, Known as Communication For Change organization honored TY
Bello in a five-part documentary film series titled RedHot.
TY Bello is married Kashetu Bello, and they gave birth to
twin boys named Christian and Christopher on October 10, 2014, a day that coincidentally
marked the release of her “The Morning Songbook”