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Ayo Bankole (17 May 1935[1] – 6 November 1976[2]) was a composer and organist from the Yoruba ethnic group in southwest Nigeria.

Ayo Bankole
Bankole in 1960
Born(1935-05-17)17 May 1935
Died6 November 1976(1976-11-06) (aged 41)
OccupationComposer and organist

Early life and educationEdit

Ayo Bankole was born in Jos, Nigeria, into a musical family: his father, Theophilus Abiodun Bankole was an organist and Choirmaster at St. Luke's Anglican Church in Jos. His mother was a music instructor for several years at Queen's School, Ede, Osun State, a Federal government high school.

Bankole studied in London at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. There he met drama student and poet Brian Edward Hurst and set one of Hurst's poems, "Children of the Sun", to music; this was performed at the Guildhall School in 1960. He also studied at Clare College, Cambridge and received a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship to study ethnomusicology at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Musical careerEdit

Bankole returned to Nigeria in 1966 and was appointed Senior Producer in Music at the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation, Lagos, where he worked until 1969, after which he was appointed lecturer in music at the School of African and Asian Studies, University of Lagos.

He worked as music educator, composer, choral conductor, performer and musicologist with independent choral groups, including the Choir of Angels (students from three high schools in Lagos: Reagan Memorial, Lagos Anglican Girls Grammar School, and the Methodist Girls High School), Lagos University Musical Society, Nigerian National Musico-Cultural Society, and the Chapel of the Healing Cross Choir, all in Lagos. He wrote much Christian liturgical music in the Yoruba language and his compositions show elements of both traditional Nigerian music and Western classical music. He also composed theme songs for some Nigerian television drama series.


In 1976, aged 41, Bankole was brutally murdered with his wife in Lagos by a half-brother.[1]


  1. ^ a b Sadoh; Godwin. "Ayo Bankole at 80". Musical Times. Questia.
  2. ^ Schmidt, Cynthia, "Bankole, Ayo", in Samuel A. Floyd Jr (ed.), International Dictionary of Black Composers, Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn, 1999, pp. 75–80. ISBN 1884964273.

Further readingEdit

  • Euba, Akin. "Ayo Bankole: A View of Modern African Art Music Through the Works of a Nigerian Composer." In Essays on Music in Africa, no. 1 (1988), pp. 87–117. Bayreuth: IWALEWA-Haus.
  • Horne, Aaron. Keyboard Music of Black Composers: A Bibliography, Greenwood, 1992.
  • Omojola, Olabode F. (1994). "Contemporary Art Music in Nigeria: An Introductory Note on the Works of Ayo Bankole." Africa: Journal of the International African Institute, v. 64, no. 4 (1994), pp. 533–543.
  • Sadoh, Godwin (2007). Intercultural Dimensions in Ayo Bankole's Music. iUniverse. ISBN 0-595-46436-X. ISBN 978-0-595-46436-4.