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Folk-soul chanteuse Ayọ emerged as one of Europe's biggest new pop stars of 2006 with her breakthrough debut LP, Joyful. Born to a Nigerian father and gypsy mother in Cologne, West Germany, on September 14, 1980, as a child Ayọ absorbed the musical traditions of her parentage as well as influences including American soul, reggae, and Afrobeat, all staples of her father's extensive record collection. Ayọ first studied violin before moving to piano and guitar. At 21 she relocated to London, later dividing her time between Paris and New York City and earning attention while opening for neo-soul kindred spirits including Omar and Cody Chestnutt. After recording a five-song demo reel, Ayọ briefly receded from the live circuit in late 2005 to give birth to her first child. Early the following year she signed to Polydor, and with producer Jay Newland completed Joyful (the English translation of her Yoruba name) in just five days. Buoyed by the lead single "Down on My Knees," the album fell just shy of the German Top Ten. In 2008, Ayọ opted for the Bahamas to record her sophomore album, Gravity at Last. Produced once again by Jay Newland and again recorded in just five days, the album went on to reach the number one spot on the French album charts. 2011 saw the release of her third album. Named after her daughter, Billie-Eve was once again recorded in five days with the help of rapper Saul Williams and Lenny Kravitz collaborator Craig Ross.~ Jason Ankeny