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May 14, 2009

Ayo: The New Soul of Germany

by John Oseid

The gorgeous young German singer/songwriter Ayo has been enormously popular in Europe for some years, and now her soul-reggae sound is fast bringing her a North American audience. Before rehearsing with her band in a Manhattan studio last week, Ayo spoke to me and Condé Nast Traveler photo editor Damian Vincent about her music and her inspirations like her Nigerian father. In Damian's video above, she also treated us to an impromptu acoustic version of her song "Lonely."

Damian and I are looking forward to going to Manhattan's Highline Ballroom on Sunday, May 17, for Ayo's sole NYC show. Then she'll join Erykah Badu and many others on May 24 at UCLA's Jazz Reggae Festival. This week Ayo began appearing with nine other artists, including Liz Phair and Esperanza Spalding, in a Banana Republic ad campaign. The album City Sounds, inspired by the musicians' travels, is available for download upon in-store purchase.

More music:
* The colors are rich as can be in the video for "Down on my Knees," one of Ayo's first hits. Here she performs it live on French TV. One of my favorite tunes, the up-tempo "Slow Slow (Run Run)," is the first of her MySpace downloads. Here's the joyful video.
* Joyful is also the title of one of Ayo's albums, which are available on Amazon.
* Boom Box: An unabashed gusto for music of the world.


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