Toby Foyeh (a.k.a. Tokunbo Olowofoyeku) is a British, Nigerian American musician and guitarist. He was born in London, England of Nigerian parents and is currently based in the Washington, D.C. area of the USA. Although essentially a self-taught musician, he studied music at Berklee College of Music, Boston, Massachusetts and Howard University, Washington DC where he also earned a degree in Film Directing.
He has performed extensively on Nigerian Television and his music videos have been played for many years. With his band, Orchestra Africa, he has performed in the United Kingdom, Europe, United States, Canada, Japan and Africa.
He has had four previous CD/Album releases which include ‘Here I Come’ in Nigeria, ‘Jalolo’ 1999/2001 and Lagos Ilu Eko 2006 released in the USA, Canada and Europe. The Album ‘Here I Come’ produced the singles ‘Ore mi’ and ‘I’m on Fire’. Jalolo and Rain Dance are key tracks from the other two CDs. His most recent CD ‘Pirates of Africa’ was released in September 2019 and a new CD African Festival scheduled for release in 2020. 9.
Toby Foyeh Biography
Toby was born in London, England, grew up mainly in Western Nigeria before progressing to embark on university education at Berklee College of Music and Howard University in the USA. He is the fifth child of Chief Babatunji Olowofoyeku, a Nigerian politician and the former Attorney General of the Western Region in Nigeria’s First Republic (1960-1966). He has 14 brothers and two sisters who live variously in the USA, the UK and Nigeria. From the age of 5, he attended Children’s Home School, Ibadan and then transferred to Abadina School (University of Ibadan) and finished his primary education at St Johns School, Iloro, Ilesha.
From St Johns School, Iloro, Ilesha, Foyeh was admitted to King’s College, Lagos, Nigeria. He then attended International School Ibadan, Nigeria. On completion of high school education, he relocated to the USA and attended Berklee College of Music, Boston, Massachusetts and Howard University, Washington DC.
Foyeh started playing music at an early age in Nigeria, with school bands at King’s College, Lagos and International School Ibadan, as well as while studying in the United States. According to Nigerian custom and parental expectation, he was supposed to have become an engineer, a doctor or enter into the legal profession in the footsteps of his father, Chief Babatunji Olowofoyeku. Instead he chose music. Foyeh was interested in modernising Nigerian and African music, and he sought to create a flux and synthesis between the two. A band he formed with some high school friends went on to tour America as Hugh Masekela’s Ojah Band.
He has produced, recorded and co-produced other artists with varying musical styles including African, Jazz and Soul. One such project with keyboard player Roy Carter (ex-Heatwave (band) produced a dance hit for UK group Covergirl, while other musical collaborations include projects with Jake Sollo (ex-Osibisa), Saul Malinga (Ipi Tombi South African Music and Dance Troupe) and Orlando Julius Ekemode.
One of his younger brothers is Professor Abimbola Olowofoyeku, a professor of Law at Brunel University London
Foyeh’s youngest sister is Hollywood actress Folake Olowofoyeku
Foyeh’s nephew Kwame Jackson was the runner up in NBC’s The Apprentice, which was hosted in 2004 by Donald Trump.
Musical style and influences
Foyeh’s early influences from West Africa include Haruna Ishola, Victor Uwaifo and Fela Kuti. His influences from the USA include the likes of Miles Davis, Jimi Hendrix, Carlos Santana and George Benson. The music genres and styles that feature is his music are Yoruba Traditional, Africa Jam, Afro Beat, Highlife, Pop, Rock, Funk and Jazz.
Awards and achievements
Scholarship award for the BA (final year) Howard University, Washington DC, USA. Scholarship award for two years at International School Ibadan, Nigeria.
Toby has released a range of CDs, 12-inch vinyl singles and albums over a period of almost forty years.
- Here I Come (1981)
- Danger Zone (with Andy Sodjka) (1984)
- I’m a winner (Covergirl) (1985)
- Stay With Me (Covergirl) (1986)
- Hollywood City (1986)
- Jalolo (UK) (1991)
- Jalolo (USA) (1999)
- Ilu Eko (Lagos) (2006)
- Ore Mi (2017)
- Pirates of Africa (2019)
Labels: Taretone Records, Space Station Records, Kameleon and Kameleon Africa Records, Toby Foyeh Soundwave Records
Toby Foyeh and Orchestra Africa have performed at many US Universities as well as Performing Arts Centers including Kennedy Center and Cerritos Center, Cerritos CA.[ Also the UK based Saxophonist and keyboard player Tunday Akintan toured with Toby’s band.
The band has been on tour internationally and performed in many International Jazz Festivals such as Malta Jazz Festival, Toronto Jazz Festival (thrice), Montreal International Jazz Festival, Vancouver Jazz Festival, Calgary Jazz Festival, Medicine Hat Jazz Festival, Detroit Jazz Festival, Syracuse Jazz Festival, Washington DC Jazz Festival, Bahamas Jazz Festival, Jamaica Ocho Rios Jazz Festival, Grenada Spice Jazz Festival, Curacao Jazz Festival and Fuji Rock Festival, Nigaata, Japan
There have also been tours and performances in Nigeria, and London, England.