Twickenham singer songwriter Eyitemi’s (the name means ‘this is mine’ in the Nigerian language, Itsekiri) sound is a generous mix of soul and jazz with traces of gospel, afro, and funk. Read her answers on her music and inspirations!
You entered the jazz music scene in the early 2000's as a promoter and judge at the BBC Jazz Awards. How did you get involved in this?
I organized jazz nights in church and loved it so much that I decided to take a break from my finance career to organize a few gigs. Years later I was still at it! I knew so many incredible young acts that were supporting the bigger names but didn't have many spaces available to them to do their own material.
At what point did you make the decision to record your own songs and what prompted you to?
Music is my heart and singing, an expression of it. I have been singing for as long as I can remember, mainly in church. For a long time I had felt that because my voice was not one you would associate with the vocal gymnastics that often came with gospel, there was no real place for me. I was content to be in the background. Lockdown happened and with no defining moment of decision, I wrote my first song, Someday. At any other time, I would have doubted myself enough not to take it further, but there was nothing normal about 2020!
Your songs are drawing on personal experience. Did that make the writing process more difficult or easier?
Writing so far has been easy creatively. I write from a place of experience and so my songs almost wrote themselves. Exposing my innermost thoughts through my songs however was both cathartic and terrifying. A feeling of vulnerability that I had to conquer and make my peace with.
Which artist(s) inspire you and why?
So many acts but to name a few Steven Wonder, Miles Davies, Frank Sinatra, Jill Scott, Indie Arie, Anita Baker, Erykah Badu, Lianne La Havas, Amy Winehouse, George Michael, Melody Gardot….and many more... Why? They move me. Their songs make me laugh, cry, dance, be silly, dream. They reflect all the faces of life through their songs and so have a place for every season of my life.
Up to: March 2023
Updated: 14 March 2023