The word legendary is overused a lot these days. So much so it has perhaps lost its true weight and meaning for most people. However, one individual who carries the full weight of the word legend is the artist known as Toyin or Toyin Adekale. Born in London with parents from Sierra Leone and Nigeria Africa, Toyin is considered one of the ‘first ladies‘ of Reggae in the world. One of the few reggae artists to have succeeded in both the reggae and pop charts globally. She is loved and adored by millions but interestingly most of those who adore her are unaware that she is not Jamaican or English but African, such was and is her impact on reggae music. From her first single released in the UK at the tender age of 15 with local band Instigators featuring Mafia & Fluxy to her first hit not long after at 16 years old “Let’s Make Love”, up until the present day, Toyin Adekale has continued to make history.
During the 12th century, Coombe Abbey was a home for monks, now transformed into a beautiful Hotel with character. Fast forward hundreds of years later in the 21st century keeping with her penchant for making history the musical sounds of Reggae could be heard serenading the historic hotel grounds, performed by legendary Reggae artist Toyin Adekale. The ‘first’ winner of the International Women In Music Awards.
If you know Toyin Adekale you would not be surprised, Toyin has worked with some of the biggest names and brands in the world, not just in the Reggae music industry but in the pop world too. She is loved and respected by all and continues releasing new music today that moves and touches people. Toyin does more than that, she is known for helping people everywhere, in and out of the music industry. Her work in the communities of Seattle and in the UK plus her music and history won her this award and rightly so.
her latest single release, ‘You Got A Friend‘ is available on all major streaming and download platforms. That compelling silky smooth voice that stole the hearts of millions decades ago is as good as it has always been, in fact, some would say even better.
So let’s go back those decades to when a 15-year-old girl took the reggae music scene by storm and from there never looked back, Toyin Adekale went on to work with some of the greatest artists of the last generation and also this one travelling all over the world (covering 5 of 7 continents), performing for Kings & Queens, Presidents & Prime Ministers and dignitaries. Her platform was as varied as her life from clubs, theatres and stadiums, to Palaces and State buildings such as the Houses of Parliament in London, St James Palace, to the Kremlin in Russia.
Unlike many of her peers, Toyins strength was her versatility. She did not just stay in the reggae world she branched out to Soul, Jazz, Pop, RnB, Gospel, and Afrobeat even opera. However, she was able to do this while keeping her roots firmly in the reggae camp working with the likes of Dennis Brown, Delroy Wilson, Beres Hammond, Ken Boothe, Freddie McGregor, Sanchez and Gregory Isaacs. All Legends indeed.
One could say it rubbed off on her because Toyin became a legend in her own right.
Her gifts were sought by almost everyone in the music industry where she became vocal coordinator/arranger and backing vocalist to the likes of Soul II Soul, Imagination, Cliff Richard, Maxi Priest, Carmel, Dave Stuart (Eurythmics), Gabrielle and sharing the stage with legend after legend, superstar after superstar. Not only working with these great artists and names but forming great friendships. This a mark of a rare human being and artist especially in the music industry where being fickle is standard.
During Toyin’s solo career, she was the fourth member of the world-renowned Boney M (featuring Maizie Williams for 13 years). Through the entity of music, Toyin was drawn into theatre through actor/director, Larrington Walker (from whom many great names aspired), taking her into more demanding lead roles with a list of successful plays behind her both in the UK and the US. At this point, Toyin was motivated to pen her own play and thereafter her first book of short stories, “ I Do, Do You? ”. Fast forward to the present day and Toyin has several books, several plays, and films to her name.
Even after the sudden death of her son at the tender age of 21 an event that threatened to take Toyin Adekale not just out of the industry completely but almost out of the game of life as she struggled to come to terms with it. However, the world in many forms needed and wanted Toyin Adekale, her beautiful and talented daughter Taliwoah was following in her footsteps and was rising in the industry. Toyin Adekale’s talents were always in demand and eventually, she returned to her calling of creativity when after months of asking she starred with Chinese opera star Jane Maria, Indian legend Tubsy Dholki Walla and Saxophonist Mo’sax on a Stevie Eagle E production and project ‘Jasmin‘. Fusing Chinese traditional opera with classic reggae. That’s Toyin Adekale, never choosing the easy path the standard way.
Toyin Adekale has come a long way from the young lady whose signature style was leather and who set fashion trends with her crazy hairstyles and almost punk style of dressing. None of these things was ever seen in the reggae music scene at the time, not until Toyin Adekale did it. Many young reggae-loving girls styled themselves after Toyin Adekale. While the more traditional ‘blouse and skirt’ look was rocked by her peers, Toyin stood alone with her image not just amongst the reggae scene but in the music scene in general.
So in closing how can we sum up the Legendary Toyin Adekale? Perhaps the best way is to let someone else who has known her a long time do it and so we reached out to Stevie Eagle E of Shlepp Entertainment Ltd and asked him the question. How would you sum up Toyin Adekale?
“Greatness and humility. Those are the two words that come to mind straight away. I think many artists strive to be great, they really try and want to be perceived as great. Toyin just is great and she is great without trying. I have been in the music and entertainment industry for over 4 decades and I remember meeting Toyin as a young musician and artist and being struck by her immediately. She was great then and has just got greater. You cannot ask for a greater friend, and you cannot ask for a greater singer in my book, she has done it all and got all the Tee shirts and I can only hope that she continues and never stops.
One of the great pleasures in my career has been knowing her, working with her and calling her a friend. No matter where I am in the world or where she is, she will always be there for me and I will be there to support her. For her achievements alone, singing, writing, books, films, theatre, humanitarian work etc, she deserves to be in the top 5 of all time female reggae artists that have ever lived. That’s all I have to say about Toyin Adekale.”