Layori, whose latest album “Rebirth” is now released on Afro-Jam Music, is an artist perfectly attuned to the times we live in. Not only is she gifted with beauty, intelligence and exceptional ability, but there’s also a soulful honesty that courses throughout everything she touches. Add to this an abiding sense of personal identity and far-ranging worldview and we’re presented with a singer who describes her music as “modern, elegant, fashionable, but with an African touch.”
In fact it’s enchanting – an amalgamation of jazz, soul and pop that’s full of melody and remarkably easy on the ear, and yet it’s also rooted in personal truth, which lends it strength and transparency.
The universal nature of her music is thanks to her fluency in several languages (she’s just as happy singing in English, Portuguese or Yoruba), as well as influences derived from different parts of the world, including Latin America, Europe and Africa. The latter is especially important. Layori was born in Nigeria, and seeks to integrate her African roots in everything she does – in thinking and appearance, as well as her music. Her cultural background however, draws from many different sources. Her family left for America aged six, where they stayed for five and a half years before returning to Nigeria.
Interestingly, her father was a Muslim and her mother a Christian. Seeing the positive in each, she took from both viewpoints. “The religion is in you,” she attests.
Layori’s tribal marks are another indication of her traditional African upbringing.
“For my new album I wanted to get a jazzy, classical touch into my music,” she says, before purring with pride over a new line-up anchored by her German-American bassist, who performed with jazz legend Chet Baker. The other members of a diverse line-up include a Brazilian saxophonist who doubles on flute; a German guitarist who is her regular writing partner and then a cajon player whom she drafted in to replace a conventional drummer. He adds something different to her music, yet without ever compromising its ability to really swing.
One of the tracks, “Dada” is reprised from her first album (“Origin”), except it’s a completely new version, “coming from the depths of where the music started.” The accompanying video was filmed in the Sahara. “I had a vision of exactly how I wanted to look and I could feel the haute couture style going with the music and the desert,” she says. “That was the representation I wanted to give as Layori.”
“Dada” is sung in Yoruba, as are the majority of songs on “Rebirth”, including her latest single “Iwa Lewa”. That song’s so evocative, it’s as if she casts a spell over her listeners. Sensitivity and melody take precedence over words, and the mood that’s created is utterly unique. By her own admission it’s her emotions that determine which language she uses.
Layori’s voice transcends all boundaries and deserves a place among the handful of uniquely talented artists who truly represent today’s one-world philosophy. Her music is exceptional, and it’s international in every sense of the word. Listening to “Rebirth”, we get a sense of what music of the future may sound like once freed of all partisan concerns, and that’s capable of connecting with people on a global scale.
“I feel like I’m a citizen of the world,” she tells us. “I’ve travelled to so many places, I speak so many languages and I love music from so many different cultures … I was always able to appreciate all kinds of music and I think that’s because I was always open-minded and I could feel what people wanted to say, even if I couldn’t always understand what they were saying. I love that and I wanted my own music to be that transparent, so that people from all over the world could feel it. If this album can go some way to achieving that, then it would make me feel very happy.”
04. Ile Aye Kuru
06. Mama Mi Baba Mi
07. Que Vida
08. Iwa Lewa
10. Owun Mi
11. Ma Je Ka Dinu
12. Pelu Abi Aisi E
The album Layori “Rebirth” (Afrojam Music) is going to be released September 21, 2012.