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Young Barking jazz star revisits roots in ‘warm’ Broadway homecoming gig

PUBLISHED: 18:30 22 February 2016

Niji Adeleye at the Broadway in Barking

Niji Adeleye at the Broadway in Barking

eSBee

A rising jazz star has spoken of the pride he has in his roots after returning from the Big Apple to play a homecoming show.

Niji Adeleye, whose album Better Days Ahead shot to number three in the iTunes jazz charts when it was released last yearNiji Adeleye, whose album Better Days Ahead shot to number three in the iTunes jazz charts when it was released last year

Niji Adeleye, 23, quit his job in finance last September so he could play music full-time – and was rewarded when his album, Better Days Ahead, shot to number three in the iTunes jazz charts.

The Barking pianist then spent time performing in New York before his nostalgic gig at the packed-out Broadway on Sunday night.

“It was an amazing night,” the former Eastbury Comprehensive pupil said. “There was a really warm and friendly feel to it.

“The last time I played in the Broadway I was about 15, so it was strange to come back and see my face on posters all over the walls.”

Mayor Simon Bremner with Niji AdeleyeMayor Simon Bremner with Niji Adeleye

Niji was also impressed to see familiar faces from his childhood.

“I couldn’t believe it, seeing Mr [Jeff] Goy there,” he said. “He was my old head of year. And even the mayor came, which was dope.

“My roots are here – if I hadn’t come back, it wouldn’t have felt right to go anywhere else.”

There were also poignant moments, both for Niji and the crowd.

Niji Adeleye in Broadway theatre for his hometown showNiji Adeleye in Broadway theatre for his hometown show

“One of the songs, Victoria, is about my grandmother,” he said.

“I missed her funeral so I wrote it for her. I also played I Just Can’t Win, about my best friend Kevin Mukendi, who died two years ago.

“It was strange knowing your music can bring people to tears.”

As for the future, Niji is committed to writing more music – and having a well-deserved break.

“It’s been a gamble,” he said. “But life is a gamble. No matter what happens on this journey, I’m just glad I’ve taken the plunge.”


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