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As part of the Black History Month ‘Meet the Artist’ Q&A, we spoke with musician, EyiTemi.

EyiTemi is a singer-songwriter from Twickenham. Following her self-written EP album, EyiTemi will be performing at the prestigious EFG London Jazz Festival 2023. We spoke to her ahead of the upcoming show in November.

Can you tell us about yourself?

I am a British Nigerian singer-songwriter from Twickenham. I moved to Twickenham 10 and a half years ago with my now not so little boy (12 years old and counting!)

Music is my heart and singing, an expression of it. I have been involved in music in one way or the other my entire life. On the singing front, I sang mainly in church until lockdown when with not much else to do, I started writing. I found it a cathartic process and took to it very easily and quickly. 'Someday' my first song was written, quickly followed by 'Alone', my debut single. I released my self-written EP Taking Flight late last year. I am looking to release my second album late this year/early 2024 - schedule permitting.

Outside of singing, I was heavily involved for many years, in giving some of UK's most talented unsigned jazz acts a chance to showcase their original music. I am fortunate to have worked with some incredible acts in the early stages of their careers including Grammy nominated producer and Ivor Novello winning songwriter, Troy Miller (also drummer for the late Amy Winehouse), as well as Mercury Prize Nominated Artists Soweto Kinch and Eska. This and many other wonderful opportunities led me to spending two years as panel judge in the innovation category of BBC Jazz Awards.
As well as singing, I am also founder and co-host of a Spotify fly on the wall music podcast - FriendsOnTrack. We explore the music experience in a very laid back and fun way, using our lives as a portal to tap into universal music themes.

Who or what inspired you to pursue a career as a jazz artist?

I have always loved music with jazz the genre most close to my heart.

Music is in my DNA. I think though, the love for both music and jazz came from childhood and the music my mum played around the house. My sound is not strictly jazz. There are lots of Soul, Afro, Gospel and even funk intertwined, but with heavy jazz influence - in both the way I sing and the undertone in the music.

Pursuing a career in music actively felt like the next logical and natural step in my song writing journey and love for music.

Are there any projects you have been a part of that celebrate black history and culture through music?

As a black artist, everything I do with music celebrates my heritage and culture. In my Creative Event Producer years, I ran many projects funded by Arts Council, PRS and other funding organizations, that had a real focus in celebrating black music, artists and culture.

Could you share a bit about your upcoming performance at OSO Arts Centre

I am excited to be performing at the beautiful and intimate theatre that is the OSO Arts Centre in Barnes. A real treat! This event is part of the prestigious EFG London Jazz Festival.
I have always been keen to explore creatively different mediums to express my music and in this event, I especially lean into this.

My songs are autobiographical and capture the theme of transitioning to light from darkness. The performance on the night makes the event part vibrant music gig, part multi-faceted show.

I perform with a seven-piece live band as well as collaborate with two incredible guest artists: a performance poet and a Rambert trained contemporary dancer! All helping to bring the often-painful moments from the songs to vivid life. 

Do you have any advice for aspiring musicians?

Creative arts have never necessarily been an easy path to take. Music is no different. It is however the natural path when you are born to do it - when nothing else would do!

Do it first and foremost because you love it! Protect that love and focus on why you are doing what you are doing... and then build a career around it. The career path part is made that much ‘easier’ these days with the internet and social media. Use it to your advantage, creatively. You no longer have to be signed to a music label to get your music out there. 
Finally, do not be shy to ask for a chance from anyone. The worst that can happen is people can say no! I cannot begin to list how many times I have asked, even when it’s seemed very cheeky to… but sometimes, it got me through the door.

Updated: 18 October 2023

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