Eniola Abioye On Grace, Becoming, And Staying Rooted In Gratitude
Photography by Bailey Hardy
Have you ever met someone that you felt you could talk with for days? I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with writer and worship leader, Eniola Abioye, and I'm still not sure that days would suffice. In a very short amount of time, what truly felt like a blink, it became clear that Eniola is someone you want to walk with through this life, rather than see in passing for a quick cuppa. In an attempt to give you the slightest idea of who Eniola is, I've compiled some highlights from our conversation. Though, I recommend giving her a follow on Instagram to watch just how far she goes from here.
Let’s start from the beginning—where are you from?
I love this question, but it is also complex. I am a Nigerian-English American. I was born in England to Nigerian parents, and I have spent most of my life in the United States. Specifically Atlanta, GA, Tulsa, OK, and Charlotte, NC. I moved to Dallas in 2010 and have been here ever since.
How long have you been performing/creating?
I have been officially performing and creating since I was a little girl. Singing since I was about 14 years old, and sharing my work since 2017. My parents have told me stories of how I sang as a toddler, making up songs while watching television shows. I recall writing stories, plays, and poetry as a 7-year-old.
What is your favorite mode of creative expression?
I think my favorite mode of creative expression is writing. I, especially, enjoy anything that involves ideation and analogy to communicate new thoughts and heart processes.
What are you working on right now?
I am working on a collection of poetry that celebrates being a woman. It feels familiar, vulnerable, but also intentional. I am also in a 9-month arts conservatory program with a concentration in screenwriting. It has been life-giving to learn about stories. I feel like I was made for it. I am also writing music and seeking out new ways to express different concepts in art. So much more but that’s all I can share.
Tell me about Jubilee.
Jubilee is one of many dreams I am building. The idea is to provide resources that inspire children in low-income communities to enjoy reading and creative expression. Again, it is one of many dreams, and I know it will take some time to become a reality, but I am in this for the gradual and long haul.
Can we talk about the track you just recorded for One For Israel?
Yea, I got this brilliant opportunity to record a track with other vocalists from around the globe led by an Israeli singer named Nizar. It is centered on reconciliation and spreading love. The Words are John 3:16 verbatim, and I believe there is a beautiful, raw power in those words from Scripture to bring healing and connection.
Your perspective is raw, but filled with love and optimism—let’s talk about that. You clearly have a centered, quiet peace. What informs that for you?
Over the years, I have become acquainted with the reality that God moves at His own pace. He moves in rhythm and cadence. Music is never in a rush, art is not rushed, the story is not rushed, and if they are, those engaging in it can tell and are put off, unable to receive from the work. I don’t want to get to the end of my life aware of how rushed I was, regretting the things I missed or spent time on that weren’t part of God’s journey for me. I want to live as poetically as possible. I want to feast on the best life has to offer. I want to move at God’s pace: deliberate and unhurried.
I believe He leads me, and I get to steward what He leads me into. When I mess up, I believe I see the mess, re-evaluate, then stand up and keep moving. I believe it is never too late to do anything, as long as there is breath in my lungs. I believe love and peace are non-passive, and they manifest, typically, when the opposite is in the room. I believe my words matter, and so does my presence.
"I don’t want to get to the end of my life aware of how rushed I was, regretting the things I missed or spent time on that weren’t part of God’s journey for me. I want to live as poetically as possible."
Photography provided by Eniola
We’re living in a very active time and some days the darkness seems to overcome the light. Can you share a mantra or a ritual that helps you when things are scary/stressful and helps you stay in a place of gratitude and light?
One of the things I find myself doing when things get overwhelmed is I literally stop, whatever I am doing, and place both hands either on my chest or stomach, or on a flat surface, and take long inhalations, and then extend exhales. I do it until I am present with God, honestly. I talk to Him. Gratitude grounds my heart and helps me remember what is true, so I start naming off things I am grateful for. I also don’t try to convince myself out of unpleasant things. I do my best to face them for what they are: grief, loneliness, old pain, unforgiveness, whatever it is. At the moment, I bring that up before God and ask Him what to do with it. I give myself grace and remember I am human, and I am still becoming. I remind myself of how far I have come and how far I am going. I leave my close ones lengthy voice memos detailing where I am in my heart and ask for prayer, counsel, or just a listening ear. Staying vulnerable has helped me a lot.
Finally, what’s the last thing that made you laugh—really, hearty from the belly—laugh?
My best friend and I have been traveling together a lot lately. On a recent trip, we were just listening to music on a long drive. Both of us do this thing, where we make up lyrics, off-the-cuff, and the things that come out of our mouths are unreal and hilarious. It was the hardest I had laughed in a while.
"I believe love and peace are non-passive, and they manifest, typically, when the opposite is in the room."
Photography by Ruby Olivia