Tope Alabi, TY Bello in the spirit of light
From the moment Toyin Sokefun, now Toyin Bello, better known as TY Bello, emerged on the scene as a member of the defunct group Kush, an acronym for Kinetically Ushering Salvation into Hearts and Homes, it was obvious that she had the sky as her beginning.
Even when Kush band, whose other members included, Lara George, Dapo Torimiro and Emem Ema went under, the irresistible Toyin took up photography fully and was a member of Depth of Field (DOF), a collective of photo artists with the objective of redefining the photography landscape of Nigeria.
DOF’s members were, Emeka Okereke, Kelechi Amadi-Obi, Amaize Ojeikere, Uche James Iroha and Zainab Balogun. The group later had one of its biggest showings at the Maison De France, Ikoyi, in the early 2000s. Toyin later moved to commercial photography, and at a time was former President Goodluck Jonathan’s official photographer.
Even at this, she held on to her music tenaciously.Not only has she released three albums, Greenland, in 2008, The Future in 2011 and The Morning Songbook in 2014, her experimentation with spontaneous worship sessions, which she started in 2015, has created a platform for new album with the sonorous singer Tope Alabi: A collaboration, which seemed the icing on the cake for Toyin.
Alabi, a successful gospel musician with 10 albums to her name, has one of the most unique voices on the gospel scene. Her songs are evocative and rhythmical, with deep Yoruba language paeans.
The lady, who is said to have scored over 1000 original soundtrack for Yoruba movies, is the voice of the very established Yoruba movie arm of Nollywood. For TY, the collaboration was “purely inspired by God”.
In a statement titled, Unscripted, she said: “It happened in a room with white walls. A polished grand piano, a keyboardist, a lead guitarist, a talking drummer and an audience of friends who were eager to tune their minds to songs never written, never heard and never performed.”
She continued, “and then we all waited, waiting for no one in particular but waiting for the one in particular. The sound engineers had readied their microphones, adjusted the decibels of every technology that would aid the smooth production and recording of excellent sounds.
“And then He arrived the room. The One we had all been waiting for showed up like He owned the air that filled the room. Like He Had waited for us to recognise His presence at our discretion.” She added, “Tope Alabi felt a sensation and approached the microphone in a hurry, taking a posture of reverence as she sang, welcoming the presence of the sweet Holy Spirit who was already in our midst and we hadn’t noticed earlier.”
TY Bello followed, listening keenly to the direction that has been impressed on Tope’s heart. “Then came the spontaneous songs, as easy as a breeze- all seventeen songs, racing towards each other in worship, warfare, admonition and encouragement such that the listener has a full experience of God’s presence no matter where there were tilted in the journey called life,” TY Bello said. “The smooth blend of eloquent words of eulogy in brilliant Yoruba language from Tope Alabi was a lesson in pure palpable worship. Like reading the book of Jobs and Psalms simultaneously, but in slow hurry.”
Titled, The Spirit of Light, the album has 17 unscripted songs performed live over a three-hour period. It features the already successful single, Logan Ti O De and sets the pace for other hit singles such as Awa Gbe Oga and All The Glory Belongs To You.
From songs of welcome to the beautiful presence of the Holy Spirit, We Have Come and Emimimo to evangelical songs like, Imole De, Oba Mi De, Logan Ti O De. Songs of worship- Awa Gbe O Ga, Iwo Lawa O Ma Bo, No One Else Like You, Kabiyoosi, Adonai, Eru re to Ba, All the Glory and finally Angeli, a song of admonition, the voice of these two artistes explode and drop in rivulets. In fact, the collaboration best establish a tradition that will come to define the pace, tempo and content of gospel in years to come.
TY Bello said, “the album is a labour of love, put together for a period of four months after fresh songs from heaven had already been recorded. This involved the input of brilliant musicians and worship leaders including Wole Oni, Folabi Nuel, Wole Adesanya, George Ade-Alao, Segunfunmi, Josh Keys, MELA Music, Chuks Kalu and David Joshua of Ideal Concept Solutions.
“This album is a testament to how we should live our lives unscripted before God because he has designed the contents and directions that our lives must follow to find fulfillment. More than a worship experience, this body of work is a lesson in faith because God always shows up when we make ready our heart and lives for his purpose.”