Gboyega Odubanjo, a talented poet, musician, and inspiring collaborator, passed away at the young age of 27. A foundation has been established in his name to carry on his legacy and help support low-income Black writers. At the time of publishing, the foundation has already raised nearly £70,000.
A Lasting Collaboration: RESOLUTE
Gboyega Odubanjo, affectionately known as Bo, had a profound impact on the lives and careers of jazz musicians Raph Clarkson, Phil Merriman, and Simon Roth. These talented artists formed the band RESOLUTE, which centered around the powerful combination of Raph’s and Bo’s poetry and music. They share their heartfelt tribute to their dear friend and colleague below.
The Beginnings of a Musical Friendship
Raph Clarkson, Phil Merriman, and Simon Roth recall the first time Raph met Bo at a workshop in The Vortex Downstairs. Bo’s voice, words, and artistic expression were so full of musicality that they left Raph deeply impressed. Bo’s performances were marked by captivating melodies, hypnotic rhythms, and an intense passion that defined his art and the way he shared it with the world.
The Formation of RESOLUTE
During a memorable winter jam session at The Premises in Hackney, Bo joined Raph, Phil, and Simon, and together they created music that was profound, spiritual, and unforgettable. Although Bo was primarily known as a poet and writer, he was also undeniably a creative and influential musician. Over the course of a year, the band played several gigs across the UK, culminating in a live recorded album shortly before the pandemic.
The Impact of Bo’s Unwavering Commitment
Bo’s unwavering dedication to his art inspired Raph, Phil, and Simon to embrace the exciting world of group improvisation. Throughout their time together, they shared laughter, friendship, and thoughtful reflections on their lives and the world around them. Bo’s voice brought attention to global issues, and especially to Black experiences, exemplifying art’s true purpose: to express oneself with grace, depth, authenticity, and without compromise.
Gboyega Odubanjo’s loss is deeply felt, and Raph, Phil, and Simon extend their condolences, love, and strength to his family. His work and legacy will live on, continuing to spread light and truth.
The Gboyega Odubanjo Foundation
The Gboyega Odubanjo Foundation is being launched to support low-income Black writers, with funds from the appeal also contributing to the foundation. This initiative will play a crucial role in assisting young Black writers facing systemic racism and prejudice. Gboyega was dedicated to uplifting and supporting his community through mentoring, encouraging others at poetry events, and teaching in various institutions. His poetry and writing have been a beacon of light to many.