The eldest daughter of four to loving but businesslike Nigerian immigrants, she was expected to set an example and pursue law or medicine. Instead, at age 14, she matter-of-factly informed her family that she would be making the four-hour daily commute from Long Island to the prestigious LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts in Manhattan, which counts Nicki Minaj and Kelis among their hit- making alumni. "I think it's hereditary," Yvonne laughs about her ambition. "I was pushing for this since I was a little girl. I'm stubborn in a sense, and I'm not the kind of person that's going to look back and regret that I didn't try something." The risk paid off all right.
While enrolled at LaGuardia, Yvonne earned the distinct honor of performing with classmates in a Carnegie Hall recital. "There's people that work their whole life to get that opportunity—violinists, cellists, opera singers," she marvels. "At age 16, to sing there with a bunch of your friends... it's almost mind-blowing." Although the precocious Yvonne studied classical, chamber music, sight-singing, gospel and jazz, she was quick to embrace modern songwriting sensibilities.
At 17 she began experimenting with diary entries that would shape her as a lyricist, then cleverly finagled her finances into purchasing her own studio equipment. One such spending spree at New York's Sam Ash Music Store got her in touch with up-and-coming producer/eventual mentor Daniel "DTox" Wisniewski. "When I started out writing songs and figuring out my own voice, I didn't think this was the direction I'd take," Yvonne admits. "I started working with DTox—he's like my best friend—and he listened to me a lot. He sort of put me through vocal boot camp, where he tried to combine a lot of the things I learned from high school with stuff that's current and popular." If cult indie EP Model Citizen and the increasingly ubiquitous "Go Around" are any indication, mission accomplished. "I feel like there should be emotion and soul in music.
It's kind of like being on a rollercoaster—you get people excited on the first couple of lines, then you get them really excited because now this voice is in your face. Some people take that approach to life." Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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