Giant steps for Barking pianist as album success brings New York gigs

PUBLISHED: 07:00 01 September 2015 | UPDATED: 10:15 01 September 2015

Niji Adeleye performing at the piano

Niji Adeleye performing at the piano


A 23-year-old pianist might just be the shape of jazz to come after his first album shot up the charts.

Niji Adeleye, of Blake Avenue, Barking, released Better Days Ahead independently – and it reached number three in the iTunes jazz chart within 24 hours.

The former Eastbury Comprehensive pupil is currently in New York to perform and promote his music.

“It’s been amazing,” he said. “The main success for me was just completing the album.

“I wrote some of these songs while doodling during church service, then I recorded pieces on my phone, and now it’s become the real thing. That’s a great feeling.”

Because of the attention the album has already received, Niji has decided to commit to jazz full-time.

“I’m quitting my job in finance – I work for Bloomberg – because I feel like I should take this opportunity,” he said.

“In November I’ll be back home, and then I will be thinking about the next album and more performances.”

In 2009, Niji won the Barking and Dagenham Rising Star award after playing with fellow borough residents Jack Polley and Mike Cuthbert – who both play on Better Days Ahead.

Niji wanted his album to be an antidote for people who are feeling kind of blue.

“The title is a slogan,” he said. “There are always better days ahead, no matter how bad you feel at the time. You can go through something and come out of it. The inspiration came from my own life experience, and from people around me.”

But despite his rapid success and obvious talent, Niji always found studying music a little tricky.

“I got a C in music – I’m not that good with theory.

“But I had great mentors at school and I benefited a lot from being given free musical rein at church. My dad has been a huge influence as well – he can play five instruments.”

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