In music, a decade is long enough for people to forget your contribution to the art, but for some gifted elite, it is just a milestone to celebrate your indelible and everlasting contribution.
Guitarist/producer Kunle Ayo, whose music has been described as “thing of beauty’ by Dave Koz, perfectly fits in the second group like a hand in a glove. The award winning Nigerian born star, who blasted in the SA music market with “Ayo (Joy)”, celebrates 10-years of music sharing that has seen him perform and record with names such as Al Jarreau, Kirk Whalum, Jonathan Butler and the late Jabu Khanyile, and produced for Judith Sephuma, Simphiwe Dana and MXO.
As part of the celebrations, Ayo also plans to kick-start a charity drive that kicks off with a gala dinner featuring Oliver Mtukudzi, MXO, KB, Georgie (KAYA FM) and many more, on May 4th. With Takalani Home of the disabled the first beneficiary, the plan is to reach more homes nationally.
Kunle says the 10-year feat is a milestone that signifies maturity for him musically. “Four awards to my name, 10 years in the industry has made me see the good, the bad and the ugly side of the people in the industry,” he says. “This has equipped me to make wise decisions for my career and the fans are just as responsible for this. I really appreciate their support”
A former member of Nigerian legend Lagbaja’s band, Kunle Ayo was unfolded in South Africa” when he moved here in 2002. The star says that South Africa has become home for him “more because I started my solo career here. “My musical style was revealed and I was able to experiment with different sounds. I am a proud South African as much as I am a proud Nigerian and my music is testament to that. I am a product of the fusion of South African Sounds and Nigeria, that is why SA has become home,” he enthuses.
A well travelled artist, he adds that South Africans appreciation of music is one of the things that inspire him. He has over the years appeared at the Standard Bank International Jazz Festival, Birchwood Hotel’s Ekhuruleni Comes Alive event, the Cape Town International Jazz Festival and more.
“There is a connection between me and SA that is divinely orchestrated. I’ve been asked to live in other parts of the world but my love for SA is deeply rooted in her music and her people that have opened their arms to accept me as one of their own,” he adds with pride.
Ayo adds that the future hold a lot for him. “I’m starting my record label in order to assist talented artists who might not be opportuned to be signed by bigger labels. There is enormous talent in SA and it will be a pleasure to help discover some of them. I also want to be part of mentoring programs the near future,” he says with pride.
“Making music is my life so I will still continue writing, playing my guitar, singing and producing albums.
Apart from contributing to nurturing artist, he is also giving to charity. The star has chosen Diepkloof’s (Soweto) Takalani Home for The Disabled as his charity of choice.
“They say it’s better to give than to receive, helping people is a good way of living, “says Ayo. “Though I never thought I would do it in this manner but giving back at this point in my life is so fulfilling. I don’t have much but the little I do have I believe it’s good to share. I’m speaking to corporates to assist me do this, not just cash but things that the home needs.”
Ayo says that he feels connected to Takalani because “I’ve been there and I feel connected to them. The aim of the dinner is to help support charity and to launch my nation wide tour that will be a launchpad to reach other charities as well. We hope to take the music to every part of South Africa and in so doing help the less privileged.”