The music career of German-Ghanaian Neo-soul singer and composer, Y’akoto, is the product of her father’s influence during her childhood. Born, Jennifer Yaa Akoto Kieck, to a Ghanaian highlife musician father and a German mother, she started her musical journey with piano lessons as a child.
By the age of 13, she was singing in a community band and had influences of rock, reggae, soul, and funk, which initially didn’t have any bearing on her, but later carved out the trajectory of her career as she grew up. She took an immense interest in music shortly after she completed her education as a teacher of dance when she turned 20, last fm reported.
Though born in Hamburg, Germany, Y’akoto was raised by her father’s relatives in Ghana. She considers herself a wanderer of worlds because her early life was all about growing up in different countries and experiencing distinct cultures. She lived in Cameroon, Chad, and Togo, but joined her parents in Germany some years later.
These trips, Y’akoto believes have shaped the kind of music she makes. Many liken her music style to musical giants such as Nina Simone, Erykah Badu, and Billie Holiday as she passionately uses her music to reflect the teething challenges facing people.
From her debut album “Baby Blues” to her third titled “Mermaid Blues”, Y’akoto has used her music to tell fascinating stories about life with an authentic rhythm, sometimes of African origin. Her album, Mermaid Blues, which is a fusion of blues, neo-soul, and ambient pop is a reflection of the songwriter’s early life. She sought to explore the mythology of the mermaid and its significance to different cultures.
Growing up in her father’s home region, she was fascinated by the concept of mermaids. Like many African children, she frequented the beach in anticipation of seeing the aquatic creature one day. The obsession with the concept of mermaids informed many of the records on her album. In her world, the aquatic creature embodies opposing perspectives and makes understanding it unpredictable, according to Discover Germany.
In her music, she uses the concept of the mermaid to challenge the stereotypes society has woven around women. The expectation is that the feminine traits that symbolize a woman must be soft, vulnerable, and accommodative, instead of the independence and strength of a woman being played out. Y’koto’s music, to a large extent, celebrates the strengths and sensuality of women in today’s world.
She believes women can be assertive and vulnerable at the same time and this should not be seen as a weakness but rather a virtue. She said women figures such as Frida Kahlo, Zadie Smith, Sade, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie motivated her while working on her mermaid album. The mermaid album means a lot to Y’akoto because the tracks speak to her internal struggles with her own self and her desire to develop herself personally.