Toyin Sokefun-Bello is the full name of Nigeria’s famous photographer, singer and songwriter, TY Bello.
The multitalented artist and social activist was one of the speakers at the just-concluded Guarantee Trust Bank Fashion Weekend Masterclass.
As the first speaker on the first day of the Fashion Weekend, the crowd was star struck being in the same room with an icon like her.
TY Bello treated the guests to an exciting Master Class on Fashion Photography whilst sharing with them, the secret behind iconic images.
She shared her success story with Ifeoma Ononye, she says, “I am so honoured. I was extremely excited to be part of the huge platform that GTbank created to promote enterprise for stakeholders in fashion. The greatest thing is to be able to teach and share your experiences with people. It is a great privilege.”
TY has built an amazing portfolio as one of Nigeria’s foremost photographers and a member of the talented photography collective, ‘Depth of Field’. Her evocative portraits have made her one of the most applauded and keenly sought after portrait photographers in the country. Indeed, she has the unique distinction of having being the official photographer to three Nigerian Presidents.
TY’s works also include social initiatives, such as an annual photography exhibition to raise funds for orphans in Nigeria. In 2016, she brought to fame, Olajumoke Orisaguna, who she helped turn from a street bread seller to a professional model featured on the front page of Style Magazine.
When TY Bello started her career in photography and released her first single ‘Green land’, her Afro Hairstyle was not this big. The big Afro grew with years.
She shared the story behind her iconic Afro Hairstyle identity.
“My Afro hairstyle started totally by accident. I used to be in a band and I remember I had a hair stylist. I told her I wanted an Afro-pop hairstyle. She put a whole bunch of layers and layers of hair extensions on me. I hated it at the time. But now, years after I’m loving it. I am totally in love with my Afro hair. I know I look like a lion in the big hair but I love it,” she said.
She admitted that half of the hair on her head is extensions. It may look heavy to onlookers but the mother of twin boys does not feel the discomfort of any sort. It’s a hairstyle that is more like her identity and she may not be changing it for fluffy silky hair anytime soon.
On her personal style, which has changed, Bello explained that she loves the fluidity of what she wears. She stated that her choice for freer clothes is deliberate because comfort and effortless fashion is all she sought at the level she is right now.
“It’s just where I am right now. I love the fluidity that what I wear takes me. I am not thinking about clothes too much. Fashion should be effortless and that is my thing. I am enjoying myself,” she said.
TY Bello was born in Ogun State. She attained a degree in Economics from the University of Lagos. She briefly practised journalism and eventually ventured into photography. TY Bello emerged into Nigeria’s musical landscape as a member of the defunct group, Kush, an acronym for Kinetically Ushering Salvation into Hearts and Homes.
Other members of the group included Lara George, Dapo Torimiro and rapper Emem Ema. Kush gained popularity in the early 2000s with the single ‘Let’s Live Together’; the group managed to release an album before disbanding. TY Bello was the official photographer to former President Goodluck Jonathan during his tenure in office; she also does work for ThisDay fashion magazine.
According to her, “Art is about collecting experiences and expressing them. For me, music and photography are similar art forms. I collect experiences, stir them in myself and express it in my own language. Just like my photography, music is my language.”
In 2008, TY Bello released her debut studio album Greenland. It was produced by Mosa Adegboye and took two years to develop. The album earned her a Nigeria Music Award as well as a Sound City Award. TY Bello describes the album as a journey of her everyday life. The music of Greenland embodies the themes of love, family and nation. The album’s title track is an inspirational song written to motivate Nigerians to liberate themselves from a place of despair, to a place of hope.
In October 2011, TY Bello was one of the celebrities featured in an eight-minute anti-rape video compiled by the Nigerian Ministry of Youth Development. The anti-rape video shed light on the victim of a gang rape at Abia State University in September 2011.
In December 2013, TY Bello released her single ‘Yahweh’ featuring Wale Adenuga. The song features additional vocals from Nwando Okeke and Mosa. The first line of the song was written in 2004 during a photo-shoot.
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