Born: 27 March 1981
Singer, Songwriter, Record Producer and Philanthropist
Years Active: 2002 – Present
Famously known as Banky W, Olubankole Wellington was born in the United States but moved to Nigeria at the age of five when his Nigerian parents relocated back to Africa. At the age of eight, he joined the church choir and over the years nurtured his singing voice. He attended the Home Science Association Secondary School before moving to New York on an engineering scholarship at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. While working towards his degree, he entered and won a local talent competition, known as the ‘Albany Idol’ competition. This was a pivotal moment in his career.
Over the next few years, Banky began doing many shows on a small scale and slowly gained a following, and despite many setbacks, his following grew and he eventually started a record label under the name Empire Mates Entertainment (E.M.E.) with the aim to provide a platform for his music. 2003 saw the release of his first official project under the name Bank W, an EP called Undeniable.
Riding the wave of his successful EP, Banky released his first album, titled Back in the Building, which featured the award-winning song My Regret. The R&B/Soul album received critical acclaim and helped to solidify his status as an artist to watch for in the future. The awards and accolades followed with a US Songwriting Award, 2006 Nigerian Entertainment Award – R&B/Soul Artist of the Year and 2007 International Single of the Year, to name a few. Banky went on to win the highly respected John Lennon Songwriting Award in the R&B Category and in also managed to sign a US Publishing deal.
The W Experience, released in December 2010, was Banky’s highly anticipated second album where he worked with Nigerian’s finest producers and collaborated with some of Africa’s most promising stars. It was no surprise when the album was a candidate for best album in Africa for the years 2009 and 2010. Not only did Banky discover and sign the talented African hip-hop star known as WIZKID, but he also collaborated with him on The W Experience album. The album received positive reviews internationally, winning Banky W the title of the Prince of African Soul/R&B.
Throughout his career Banky has worked with artists such as Mode 9, WIZKID, Skales, Sarkodie, L-Tido and international superstar Verse Simmonds. Outside the studio, Banky is very involved in philanthropy work and he has launched the ‘I AM CAPABLE’ scholarship fund with the aim of providing tuition fees for kids who meet the grade requirements to study at private universities, but who cannot afford it.
2003: Undeniable (EP)
2005: Back in the Building
2008: Mr. Capable
2009: The W Experience
2012: Empire Mates State of Mind
By Sizwe Shabalala