Despite spending most of her adult years in the United States, singer and songwriter Olayinka Ehi was born and raised in Nigeria. A burgeoning R&B-alternative act, Olayinka’s sound is very much influenced by her African culture; evident in the way she weaves pidgin and English in her lyrics as well as the African percussive elements often embedded in her sound.
An example of this is her 2018 release, ‘Jeje‘. On this penultimate track off her debut EP, “Story“, Olayinka hops on an airtight Afropop sound which sports a strutting a guitar lick. Across the record, she enjoins her listeners to feel the groove and move their bodies softly to the rhythm. Over the 4-track EP, she flutters across genres, even exploring EDM on the project’s closer, ‘B.G.S.N‘.
Olayinka Ehi initially ensnared us in 2016 when she was thrust in the public eye with her emotive cover of the late Nina Simone‘s definitive record, ‘Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood‘. Coming 53 years after its initial release, Olayinka uses her rendition to highlight society’s repulsion to a spirited and opinionated black woman. And ever since, she has been fairly consistent with her releases coming through with ‘Like I Do‘, ‘Feel‘ and ‘If You‘ in 2017. The next year saw the release of her well-received debut EP “Story“. And picking off where she left off in 2018, she has dished out two offerings this year with ‘No Love This Summer‘ being her latest. Released in July, ‘No Love This Summer‘ finds the singer ready to fully enjoy her summer with no commitments and no relationship-induced drama. It closes with an amusing soundbite of friends making plans to enjoy a wild and free girls-only summer.
For Olayinka Ehi, however, music isn’t all just about entertainment. She uses her gift and its perks as a tool to drive real-life changes in our society. Generally, her’s songs are centred around love and life. But with highly sinkable melodies, her songs are also usually laced with underling messages that articulate some of the women-specific struggles. In a recent interview with Voyage LA, she revealed how she used her EP rollout to help raise funds to build an all-girls school in Tanzanian.
“I am very big on female empowerment and I believe that education plays a huge role in that. When I released my first EP, I dedicated the event to raise funds for an all-girls school being build in Tanzania. We were able to raise more than 2000$ online and at the event. The school is planned to open in 2020. I plan to start up my own non-profit to continue events like this where I link my music to global awareness.” Olayinka discloses in the interview.