TY Bello: Worship as Art & Music

Aisha Yusuf

May 31st, 2023

Ty Bello is a woman of extraordinary talent. Known for her skills as a songwriter, photographer, and philanthropist, she has made a remarkable impact as an artist. With a string of captivating songs like 'Green Land,' 'Ekundayo,' 'This Man,' 'Freedom,' and 'Funmise,' Ty Bello has firmly established herself as a force to be reckoned with in the music industry.

After departing from the gospel band 'Kush,' Ty Bello embarked on a solo career, releasing her first album, "Greenland," in 2008. Produced by Mosa Adegboye, the album not only earned her a Nigeria Music Award but also a Sound City Award. She continued to captivate audiences with her follow-up albums, 'The Future' in 2011 and 'The Morning Songbook' in 2014, which received widespread acclaim despite being released without any promotion. Her subsequent albums, 'We are Fire' and 'The Spirit of Light,' further solidified her reputation as a remarkable artist. 'The Spirit of Light,' a collaborative project with renowned gospel artist Tope Alabi, was released in 2019, while 'We are Fire' dropped in 2022.

One notable aspect of Ty Bello's album releases is the time she invests in their production. For instance, 'Greenland' took three years to create, and the first line of the song 'Yahweh' from 'The Future' album was penned as early as 2004. However, her latest album, 'Heaven Has Come,' deviated from this trend.

During our interview with Ty Bello, she revealed that 'Heaven Has Come' had been in the works since 2016. Reflecting on the album's journey, she shared, "I felt like we had songs for a whole year, and it would be interesting to see what it would sound like if we put together some of the strongest songs from the album. I'm glad we didn't do it then because I didn't know that so many more songs were going to come, and that we had another 6 years to create a substantial enough repertoire to form something solid."

In our conversation, we delved into Ty Bello's artistic process, her collaborations, and the vision behind 'Heaven Has Come.' Released through Energize Music, a burgeoning gospel label featuring other talented artists like Greatman Takit, the album exemplifies Ty Bello's commitment to creating a diverse and engaging musical experience.

TTC: What inspired the creation of this album? Why did you feel that this was the right time to bring it to life?

TY BELLO: It's funny because I've wanted to make this particular album for almost six years now. Back then, I thought I had a substantial repertoire of spontaneous songs, and I was curious to see what they would sound like if we compiled the strongest ones into an album. However, I'm glad we didn't do it then because the songs we eventually made for the final album surpassed my expectations. We had another 6 years to create a vast enough repertoire to form a cohesive body of work. This album is something I've been eagerly anticipating because, unlike my previous projects, it allowed us to explore various sounds and collaborate with different artists, showcasing the unique outcomes of our sessions.

TTC: It's apparent that you worked with a diverse group of artists on this project, creating a sense of community. How did this collaboration come together, and how did you manage to make everything work?

TY BELLO: The process of forming this community happened organically through our spontaneous worship sessions. Every week, we would gather and collaborate with artists like Sinach, Dunsin Oyekan, and even people I had never met before but developed relationships with. Collaborating with other artists has become second nature to me. It's something I excel at because I can easily navigate their artistic language. When you bring together two distinct minds and shake them up, the resulting creative energy is boundless. This community has naturally evolved over the years, and this album allowed us to harness those relationships to create new and captivating sounds.

TTC: You mentioned that you had been wanting to make this album since 2016, and some of the artists featured on the final version hadn't even started their music careers back then. Did working with these new artists give you a fresh perspective on the music you wanted to create?

TY BELLO: Collaborating with these talented, up-and-coming artists has indeed provided me with a fresh perspective on music. Their approach to music is different from mine, and it has been invigorating to experiment alongside them. I am always curious to witness how sound evolves, and working with these artists challenged me and brought me joy as I kept an open mind and embraced the opportunity to learn. Whether working with seasoned veterans or emerging talents, I have come to realize that there is always something to learn from others. Remaining open and connected to the evolving sounds is what makes one legendary in their craft.

TTC: Are there any songs on this album that stand out to you personally?

TY BELLO: The first song on the album, "For Life," was the most challenging for me to create. We must have worked on it five times with five different producers, and I constantly felt that something wasn't quite right. Interestingly, it ended up being one of the last songs we completed, despite being among the first we started. I almost considered removing it from the album multiple times, but each time I did, I felt that something crucial was missing. It went on and off the list until I patiently figured out what it needed. Working with various producers, each adding their unique touch to the song, ultimately made it perfect. The sense of fulfillment upon its completion was remarkable. It wasn't an easy journey, but it was incredibly rewarding.

TTC: Has the vision or goal you had for this album remained unchanged throughout the years, or has it evolved?

TY BELLO: Absolutely. The vision I had in 2016/2017 remains intact. I wanted people to experience what we do every time we step in front of a microphone and sing songs we don't know. It's like a three-hour-long freestyle session, devoid of phones, words, or thoughts, where the music flows naturally from within us. I wanted listeners to feel the same beauty of God's presence in the room that we feel. Additionally, I was curious to witness how spontaneous sounds would manifest when each artist added their creativity and interpretation to them. The songs may not have remained exactly as they were initially conceived, but it's awe-inspiring to see how many creative minds painstakingly shaped and directed something that was inherently challenging. It's a beautiful yet arduous process.

TTC: From what you've shared, it seems like you have a perfectionist streak. Could you tell us more about your approach to your work?

TY BELLO: I believe perfectionism is something I grapple. However, I've learned to seek perfection in a way that doesn't hurt those you work with. Instead, I let them tap into their creativity and bring something different without feeling burdened.

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