Afro-Irish singer Tolü Makay recently caused a sensation with her stunning version of The Saw Doctors' classic N17, accompanied by the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, and made a splash with a memorable appearance on The Tommy Tiernan Show - watch it here.

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Originally from Nigeria and raised in the Irish midlands, her sound incorporates classic soul influences from the likes of Erykah Badu, Nina Simone and the Nigerian/French singer/songwriter Asa - her latest single Used To Be is the first song from Tolü’s debut album, coming later in 2021. 

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We asked Tolü for her choice cultural picks...

FILM

Fences by Denzel Washington, set in the 1950s and featuring Viola Davis. The acting school I’m currently attending made this our homework for the week, so we could understand the importance of an actor’s breathing and voice control. The film is powerful! It touches on various topics - race, gender. mental health - in subtle yet direct ways through the eyes of an African American family. Sad, raw and gripping.

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MUSIC

My latest single, Used To Be. Definitely check it out.

BOOK

The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks. It is non-fiction. Oliver Sacks is a neurologist who took account of some of his patients' cases. I was introduced to this book back when I was doing my undergraduate in psychology. It’s amazing.

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I’d second this with another book called Tristimania by Jay Griffiths - his book is incredible. Jay literally described her manic depression that lasted over a year and documented how it felt to the point a reader could feel exactly what she was describing. I still haven't finished reading it. I had to take breaks.

THEATRE

Barber Shop Chronicles by Inua Ellam. I have watched clips and read reviews and we need more! Google it and thank me later...

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TV

I May Destroy You by Michaela Coel. This should have won all the awards. And if you don’t know Michaela Coel, oh honey, please Google her!

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GIG

My first headline tour starts on May 28th. All the tickets are sold out for Dublin, but tickets for Galway and Cork are still available... The last one I attended that I wasn't involved in was in Nigeria in December 2019, it was Davido’s concert in Lagos. I had already attended 6 different concerts that week. He brought out everyone! It was epic!

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ART

An artist I’ve always loved is Kevin Okafor, and a young artist living in Ireland that the world will soon know is Somto Amadi- Obi. 

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PODCAST

Creative Rebels. If you are an artist looking for how to do it full time. Listen to these guys.

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TECH

Calm! An app that helps me sleep and relax when I can’t. It flushes out sounds and thoughts when I let the nature sounds play all night.

THE NEXT BIG THING...

Me. Is that cocky to say? Hahaha. But really, the Next Big Thing is waiting for the vaccines to roll out, and to be vaccinated so I can go out and socialise like a human being again.

Used To Be by Tolü Makay is out now - find out more here.