Neo-soul singer and songwriter Y'akoto's sophisticated take on contemporary R&B fuses elements of jazz, Afrobeat, pop, and more. Her 2012 major-label debut, Babyblues, drew her comparisons to singers such as Macy Gray, Erykah Badu, and Billie Holiday, particularly for her interpretive vocal ability. Her second album, 2014's Moody Blues, went to number 11 on the album chart in her native Germany.
Born Jennifer Yaa Akoto Kieck in Hamburg in 1988, Y'akoto spent parts of her youth in countries including Cameroon, Togo, and Chad, in addition to Germany. She started writing songs at the age of 13 and joined her first band at 18. A few years later, in 2011, she was featured by a local music TV show in Hamburg and earned a spot opening for Erykah Badu. That year, she also released her recording debut, the Tamba EP.
Y'akoto then signed with Warner International and recorded her full-length debut, Babyblues, with singer/songwriter Max Herre, breakbeat artist Samon Kawamura, and jazz pianist Roberto di Gioia producing. It reached number 20 on Germany's album chart in 2012. The follow-up, 2014's Moody Blues, climbed to number 11, and also charted in Austria and Switzerland. T'akoto's empowering third LP, Mermaid Blues, was inspired by the lives of such outspoken figures as Muhammad Ali, Frida Kahlo, and Zadie Smith. Featuring a variety of collaborators, including the production team of Johan Kronlund and Stefan Örn, it arrived via Warner in 2017. ~ Marcy Donelson