Banky W as we know him was born Olubankole Wellington on the 27th day of March, 1981 in the United States to Nigerian parents. He moved back to Nigeria with his family when he was just five years old where they lived in Lagos. He began singing in his church choir at the age of 8. After completing his secondary school Education at Home Science Association Secondary School, he moved to New York to attend college on a scholarship; earning a degree in Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.While still in college, he won the ‘Albany Idol’ competition, which catapulted him into the spotlight.
He overcame many personal trials and obstacles to quickly become an in-demand artist on the local music scene; performing alongside major acts on tour. He wowed audiences with his silky smooth voice while building a loyal following; he established the Empire Mates Entertainment (E.M.E.) record label as a platform to get his music to his fans and began work on an EP.
Under the name Banky W, he released the EP Undeniable in 2003, as the first release on his jointly owned E.M.E Records. The EP was released on his own label, and was sold on the internet and out of the trunks of cars. The buzz around the album caught the ears of the executives at Fox 23 News New York who promptly dispatched a reporter with a camera crew to investigate the phenomenon sweeping the area. They were surprised it was a three person company executing a highly successful grassroots marketing campaign. The report became a two part special they aired leading to a distribution deal with TransWorld (Coconut’s, Warehouse Music, Spec’s Music); one of North America’s largest music distributors. It became one of the top selling independent records, won him the 2003 R&B/Soul Artist of the Year at the Urban Independent Music Awards.His career was for a while threatened by cancer in the shoulder, but he managed to make a recovery from the illness.
In 2005 he released his first album, titled Back in the Building, containing the award-winning song “My Regret” The R&B/Soul album was released to critical acclaim; he had crafted a classic record and solidified his status as ground breaking artist. The album spawned the award winning song ‘My Regret’ and on the strength of this enduring single he became an urban-underground-yet-international icon. The awards and accolades followed with a US Songwriting
In 2008 he moved to Nigeria after the completion of his latest highly anticipated album Mr Capable under the name Banky W. With the sole mission of exposing African music to the world and bringing a high profile presence to the industry. On MySpace he garnered over 1 million song plays; on YouTube, hundreds of thousands of views for his videos; and on Facebook, his recently created fan page has over 447,705 registered fans, growing at a rate of over 500 new fans per week.
In December 2009, Banky W dropped his much anticipated second album in Nigeria, titled The W Experience . A strong contender for the best album of 2009/2010 in Africa, it features production from Nigeria’s most sought-after talents, and showcases Banky W. as he combines global R&B/Pop with African rhythms and influences to create an entirely unique and impressive sound. The 15-track album features collaborations from the internationally acclaimed and Interscope-signed artiste, Verse Simmonds; it also introduces his newly signed E.M.E acts, WIZKID and SKALES; and solidifies Banky W as the crown Prince of African Soul/R&B.
A day after Valentine of 2013, he launched his new album “R&BW” with a concert tagged the “The Grand Love Concert” at the Civic Centre, Ozumba Mbadiwe, Victoria Island, Lagos, which featured several other artistes including Iyanya, Waje and more. The first two singles from the album “Lowkey” and “Yes/No” (which has a spectacular video to it), are already receiving rave reviews.
Not to be outdone by his exploits in the music world, he is also accomplished in several other fields. He’s a published writer, as articles from his blog (http://bankyw.blogspot.com) have been featured in numerous Nigerian Newspapers, magazines and websites. As a philanthropist, he launched the “I AM CAPABLE” scholarship fund, which provides tuition, room & board at private universities for youth who are in need and meet the grade requirements. He’s also on the board of trustees of the “LightupNigeria” Project, which is focused on achieving constant electrical power supply in Nigeria, as well as various other charitable society building and empowering projects. He has also been extremely successful in many Corporate Marketing Campaigns, having been featured prominently in projects like Etisalat’s 0809ja Launch, Cocacola-Nigeria’s World Cup Theme Song, and Microsoft’s Anti-Cyber Crime Initiative. Last but not least, he is an accomplished Master of Ceremonies/Host, as he has successfully anchored numerous high profile events such as The HipHop World Awards (2009), Nigerian Breweries Legend Extra Stout Product Launch, and The Gulder Ultimate Search Celebrity TV Show Launch.
Banky played a major role in mobilizing the Nigerian youth to participate in the Occupy Nigeria series of protests in January 2012. The protests were to resist the implementation of the government’s fuel subsidy removal policy.
Below are some of his awards so far…
John Lennon Song Writing Award 2006, R&B Category, for ‘My Regret’
Best R&B Artiste, Nigerian Entertainment Awards 2006
Best Male R&B Artiste, Urban
Independent Music Awards, USA, 2006
Best International Album,
Nigerian Entertainment Awards 2007 for ‘Mr Capable’
Best R&B Video, Nigerian Music Video Awards 2008 for ‘Don’t Break My Heart’
Best Male Vocal Performance, Hip hop World Awards 2009 for ‘Don’t Break My Heart’
R&B Single of the year, 2010 Hip Hop World Awards for ‘Strong Ting’
Best R&B Singer (Male) and Best Music Video 2010 City People Entertainment Awards
C O N T R O V E R S Y
Nigerian R&B singer, Banky W who has been alleged of being gay has reacted to the sexuality rumours.
The singer mentioned this during an interview recently explained that he’s straight and does not involve himself in the unholy sexual acts.
He went onto state that,‘‘It’s hilarious to me and completely false. I’m not. Maybe it’s because I’m not married, and I practice safe sex and thus have no children yet.’ Speaking on his political ambitions, the EME label boss confessed his desire to constantly throw his weight behind candidates he believes in, since he can’t run for office himself ‘…our constitution states that you have to have been born in Nigeria to qualify.
I wasn’t, so I don’t qualify anyway..
Here are some childhood and family photos of Banky….