Banky W Biography: Early life, education, music & film career, E.M.E, net worth & more

net worth
net worth

The Nigerian musician and film actor, who is known as either Banky W or Banky Wellington, was born as Olubankole Wellington as we shall see in this biography. Banky W is his stage name and he used it all through his long music career but when he started appearing in films, he was credited as Banky Wellington.

In addition to his singing and acting career, he is a renowned businessman, an entrepreneur and a respected politician. It is very correct to say that Banky W is really a man of many endeavours. While he was popular for founding the now-defunct record label, Empire Mates Entertainment (E.M.E), he was already popular before that.

There are lots of information contained in this article that would interest you but first, check out this summary of interesting facts about Banky W that you didn’t know about.

10 facts you need to know about Banky W

  1. Banky W’s full name is Olubankole Wellington and he was born on 27th March 1981 in the United States to Nigerian parents. He is 39 years old in 2020.
  2. He co-founded Empire Music Entertainment (E.M.E) with Tunde Demuren while he was still schooling in the US at the age of 21 in 2002,
  3. Wellington released a rarely talked about EP titled Undeniable in 2003 and most of its track reappeared in his first studio album released in 2006 titled, Back in the Building.
  4. He finally moved back to Nigeria in 2009 and he signed Wizkid and Skales to E.M.E in the same year as the first official signees of the record label.
  5. On his return to Nigeria in 2009, he also wrote the first theme song for Etisalat Nigeria (now 9Mobile) titled 0809ja for Life.
  6. Banky W’s first acting credit was in Funke Akindele’s 2011 The Return of Jenifa. He later made his major film appearance in 2016’s The Wedding Party.
  7. Banky W and Adesua Etomi got married on 19th November 2017 after six months of engagement.
  8. In 2018, Banky W announced that he was dissolving E.M.E. and turning it into a talent management company focused on creative marketing, advertising, PR and brand events. He also mentioned signing DJ Xclusive, Ebuka Obi-Uchendu, Tolu ‘Toolz’ Oniru, and his wife Adesua Etomi as clients.
  9. Wellington lost the Eti-Osa Federal Constituency Elections to Babajide Obanikoro of the All Progressive Congress in February 2019.
  10. Banky W underwent successful surgery to treat skin cancer in October 2017, a case that he had treated on two occasions in the past already.

Also read: Falz Biography: Early life, education, careers, awards, net worth & more

Banky W Biography: Early life, family and education

Olubankole Wellington father’s name is George Bankole Wellington and his mother is endearingly called Momma W. Mrs Wellington. His father is from Badagry, a coastal town in Lagos State, while his mother is from Cross River State. However, Banky W was born on 27th March 1981 in the United States. This means that Banky W is also a citizen of the US having been born in that country. His family relocated back to Nigeria when he was around the age of five.

Banky W has three other brothers and a sister. They are all grown up and his parents have grandchildren already. See a picture from their 40th wedding anniversary below.

Banky W family biography
Banky W (far right) family portrait at his parent’s 40th wedding anniversary.

 

On getting back to Nigeria, Banky W was enrolled in Corona Primary School to start his education. From there he moved to Home Science Association Secondary School before he finally completed his secondary school education at Ajao Secondary School. He sang in the church choir during his teenage years.

Below is a video that Banky W shared of himself while singing in the church choir between the ages of 14/15:

https://www.instagram.com/tv/B2mMxBIHcvU/

After he obtained his first school leaving certificate and all other needed compulsory educational qualifications, Banky W returned to the United States to further his studies after 12 years in Nigeria. He gained admission on a scholarship into Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in Troy, New York. While there, he studied for a degree in Industrial Engineering.

However, his education was not his only focus while he was in the institution. Likely already influenced by his early singing days and passion for music, the young Banky Wellington started his early journey towards becoming a music reckoning force. He was already writing and producing songs in studios while he was in junior year at RPI.

Banky W Biography: Early music career

Towards the end of the 1990s and the beginning of the millennium in the year 2000, Banky W’s love for music grew into something stronger. He seemed to have discovered the path he wanted to take and chose to pursue a career in the music industry.

According to his Wikipedia page, Banky W formed E.M.E at the age of 21 in 2002 with Tunde Demuren. Tunde Demuren is the son of a former Director-General of the National Civil Aviation Authority, Harold Demuren. Wellington and Demuren had been students at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Banky W revealed that at about that time, he made some money from singing to people who patronised hair and nail salons in New York. He also worked at GlobalSpec, a software and technology services company in Albany, New York, and sometimes he would get carried away and start singing aloud with headphones on.

At the time, Banky W was unknown in the Nigerian music space. In 2003, he announced himself with the release of his first EP titled Undeniable. The EP contains six songs including Aiyyo, Don’t Wanna, Undeniable 3, Make U Feel, Thank You and  Snippets. Discogs categorised the EP under the Funk/Soul genre but confirmed at the time that the style was Contemporary R&B. While the EP did not blow the Nigerian market away, as it was not the major target, it was a start. Nevertheless, the EP won the 2003 R&B/Soul Artist of the Year at the Urban Independent Music Awards.

Olubankole Wellington known by his stage name, Banky W, finally found his breakthrough with his second major project, Back in the Building, released in 2006. It was his debut studio album and it had 14 tracks on it, with the song My Regret regarded by many as a stand out in the album. The album got many recognitions in the US and back in Nigeria. He won awards in both countries for the project.

Banky W Biography: music career 2007 –2014

In 2008, Banky W became a household name in Nigeria after he released Ebute Meta. It was a cover of Rihanna’s breakout single, Umbrella. Umbrella had been on virtually everyone’s lips since it came out in 2007 a year before Banky W did the Ebute Meta version. The popularity of Umbrella pushed Banky’s Ebute Meta to unpredicted heights.

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dHPp53oQ9L8[/embedyt]

Banky W completed his second studio project, Mr Capable in the same year. It seemed that he had made up his mind to move to Nigeria and focus more on the audience here because this project had many Nigerian artistes on it. There were contributions from el Dee and Sauce Kid, but it had many foreign collaborators as well. The album has 15 tracks, including a rap song that el Dee had featured Banky W on. Riding on the popularity of Ebute Meta, it gathered a listening audience in no time. It also won him an award at the Nigerian Entertainment Awards.

Watch the video for Capable below…

Related: See the full list of winners at Nigerian Entertainment Awards 2018

Banky W completely moved back to Nigeria from the US in 2009 and began running the E.M.E record label from Lagos. He officially signed Wizkid and Skales in the same year to the music company. Also, that same year, he released his third studio album, The W Experience.

The W Experience proved to be a monumental hit in Nigeria. It brought songs like Thief My Kele, Lagos Party, Strong Ting and The W Experience. M.I. Abaga, Waje, Naeto C, D’Banj, 9ice, el Dee, Wizkid and Skales all contributed to the album. Banky W released The W Experience album in December 2009.

Following the release of the album, Banky W took a step back and focused more on the artistes under his label. He signed Shaydee, DJ Xclusive and Niyola to the company in 2012.

Wizkid and Skales were some of the stars that quickly rose to popularity under the record label’s flag. By 2011, Skales and Wizkid have become household names in the music industry and when Shaydee and Niyola joined, they also made names for themselves.

You may also like: Wizkid Biography: Music, relationship, collaborations, controversies

On 15th February 2013, a day after Valentine, Banky W launched his most recent album titled, R&BW. He unveiled the album at a concert, which he had themed Grand Love Concert, likely to catch the love feeling in the air. The event was held at the Civic Centre, Ozumba Mbadiwe, Victoria Island, Lagos. He was able to bring such artistes as Iyanya and Waje, who brought an element of R&B to the occasion. It was well attended as people turned out to see some of Nigeria’s finest singers and vocalists.

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0kRnrIh0hyA[/embedyt]

The album’s lead single Yes/No was already popular at the time as it had been released on 19th November 2012. Good Good Loving, which was the album’s second single also made waves. Its visuals saw cameo appearances from Damilola Adegbite, Wizkid, Boj, Lynxxx, Efya, ELDee, Skales, Niyola, P.R.E, Shaydee and Masterkraft.

Legendary producers like Cobhams Asuquo, Spellz, Sarz and Masterkraft all produced part of the 16 tracks on the album.

What happened to Empire Mates Entertainment (E.M.E.) record label?

In 2018, Banky W announced that he was dissolving E.M.E. and turning it into a talent management company focused on creative marketing, advertising, PR and brand events.

What could have led to that decision?

Below, we try to give an explanation behind the demise of one of Nigeria’s most promising and vibrant music companies.

Banky W Wixkid Skales Empire Music Entertainment biography
EME poster for Baddest Boy.

Wizkid leaves E.M.E

Ayodeji Balogun who is known as Wizzy or his stage name Wizkid had been one of the biggest signings to E.M.E. He had released his first two career albums under the company. The albums are Superstar and Ayo. As was commonly reported, when he penned a deal with E.M.E in 2009, he had signed up for five years with the label.

However, as expected, by the expiration of one contract, another one could be fixed if both parties were in agreement. As it were, reports say that both Wizkid and the E.M.E board could not agree on how the percentage of his earnings would be shared. The matter had allegedly led to him sacking his first manager, Osagie.

According to Pulse, Wizkid was reportedly entitled to 25 per cent of every money he made while Banky W and Tunde Demuren got 50 per cent and his manager, got the remaining 25 per cent. It was said that after he cut ties with his manager, that the record label had insisted on keeping 75 per cent and leaving the artiste with just 25 per cent.

The first sign of trouble appeared in February 2013 after the singer moved out of E.M.E’s mansion in Ogudu G.R.A Lagos to a new home he had bought in Lekki. In addition to this, he changed his profile description on his Twitter page.

On 30th April 2013, it seemed all was okay again and Wizkid was seen moving around with the E.M.E crowd again. Banky W had been telling the public that things were going well and that there had been no violent confrontation between the management and Wizkid. However, after Wizkid released his second studio album, Ayo on 17th September 2014 under Empire Mates Entertainment (E.M.E.) record label, he officially left the company. His five-year contract was over and he did not renew it.

Skales’ departure

Raoul John Njeng-Njeng, whose act name is Skales, also left E.M.E in 2014 after his five-year contract ended. Unlike Wizkid’s departure, it was not exactly shrouded in mystery and controversy. Reports allege that both the artiste and his record label had agreed that it was time to part ways.

Shaydee’s departure

Shadrach Adeboye Folarin, popularly called Shaydee, also left the record label in 2017 at the expiration of his contract, which he had penned in 2012. While we did not find any report of Niyiola, leaving the company, it is likely she exited because the founders dissolved the record label in 2017.

Empire Mates Entertainment (E.M.E.) record label dissolved

While it only became public knowledge in February 2018, Banky W claims that he had dissolved E.M.E as a music record label in January 2017. He said that the company will still exist but with a different goal this time. Making the announcement from his Instagram page, Banky W writes:

“We are now a full-fledged media agency that focuses on creative marketing, advertising, PR, brand events/activations and a talent management firm.”

So far, he has mentioned that the company has signed DJ Xclusive, Ebuka Obi-Uchendu, Tolu ‘Toolz’ Oniru, and his wife, Adesua Etomi, as clients of the new company.

Banky W recent music career

Banky W has not left music, at least not entirely. In 2015, he and Chidimma made the R&B/Soul single titled All I Want Is You. He also collaborated with Stonebwoy and Shaydee in 2016 to sing Mi Re Do (Cocoloso). He and Adesua Etomi-Wellington, his wife, have also been making music together. He first starred her in the video of Made For You in 2016. Then, they sang the remix of Whatchu Doing Tonight, and she was credited as Susu.

Additionally, there are reports that the couple would be releasing more music soon. This was after renowned producer Cobhams Asuquo posted a picture of them working together in what looks like a studio, with a suggestive caption that they are working on a music project. Expectedly, fans are giddy with excitement at the announcement and many say they can’t wait for the release of the project.

Banky W Biography: Political career

On 11th November 2018, the public got to know of Banky W’s political interests when he declared his intention to run for the Lagos’ Eti-Osa Federal Constituency seat during the general elections. He ran under the Modern Democratic Party, a newly formed party founded in 2017.

After the results were counted on 23rd February 2019, Wellington lost the Eti-Osa Federal Constituency election to Babajide Obanikoro of the All Progressive Congress (APC). Thereafter, he told the PUNCH newspaper that he had gone into politics to do more than just talk like many Nigerian youths. Here is what he said about the loss:

“I feel very grateful, even in defeat, because of the things we were able to accomplish. Just by running the kind of campaign we ran, and winning some of the major polling units in our area, especially in places like Lekki, Agungi, Idado, Northern Foreshore, Badore, etc.

“Even in the places where we didn’t win, we were consistently placed in the top three right alongside the two major powers that be. And we did all this with a new, unknown party with no godfather or major sponsor and in the space of three months. It shows that we can compete.”

Banky W Biography: Film career

Olubankole Wellington started appearing more regularly in Nollywood films around 2016 as Banky Wellington. Before that time, he had made a brief appearance on Funke Akindele’s The Return of Jenifa in 2011 as Banky W. His first major roles were in The Wedding Party and its sequel, The Wedding Party 2. He and his wife, Adesua Etomi played the lead roles in the first film.

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zbnXd-zCD6I[/embedyt]

Both films are currently the highest-grossing Nigerian films with the Wedding Party making NGN453 million at the box office and its sequel making N433 million.

In 2018, Banky W and Adesua again appeared together on the set of Up North, which is currently placed at number 14 in the Nigeria highest-grossing film charts. The next year, the couple again acted in Sugar Rush. The film is the fourth highest-grossing Nigerian film of all time.

Banky W Biography: Personal life

Banky W’s marriage to actress Adesua Etomi

Not long after they concluded the filming for The Wedding Party 2, Banky W and Adesua Etomi held their traditional wedding ceremony on 19th November 2017. The couple had been engaged in May after Banky W announced their engagement on his Instagram page on 4th May 2017. The next week after their traditional wedding, they held a destination white wedding in South Africa.

Banky W Adesua Etomi Wedding
Banky W and Adesua Etomi at their Traditional wedding in Nigeria.

You may also like: It’s official! Banky W and Adesua Etomi are wed in Cape Town. Click to watch video of the bridal kiss

Cancer treatment

Before his marriage to Adesua Etomi, Banky W underwent surgery to treat skin cancer in October 2017. According to a statement credited to him, the surgery was the third he had undergone for the same rare strain of skin cancer tumours on his shoulder. He had the first two surgeries around 2006/2007 and they resurfaced again in 2017.

Alleged baby daddy

There have been rumours that Banky W has a daughter with Uche Odoh, a Nigerian photographer, content creator and model. While we are not certain if this is true as Banky W himself has never publicly acknowledged this fact, many online blogs claim that it is true. For instance, a Legit article showed old pictures of Odoh and Banky and she tagged him in each of the pictures as “baby daddy”. This led to many to conclude that he is the father of her daughter, which she had during her teenage years as the article claims.

Banky W Biography: Net worth and businesses

Olubankole Wellington, who uses the stage name Banky W, is likely worth a lot of money but we could not find any verifiable figure for his net worth. Some blogs claim that he is worth at least $9 million (NGN 3.4 billion) while others claim that his net worth is around NGN3.5 billion. These figures cannot be trusted because the blogs do not cite their sources and how they arrived at the figures, so they are just mere speculations.

However, we know that Banky W has been making money for a long time. For example, on his return to Nigeria in 2009, he wrote the first theme song for Etisalat Nigeria (now 9Mobile) titled 0809ja for Life. In the process, he became the company’s brand ambassador and that was just a start. He also penned an endorsement deal with Samsung Electronics in 2011, which he renewed it in 2016. Also, in 2018, Uber signed the singer as its brand ambassador in Nigeria.

Also, recall that he had co-founded a record label as well which he now runs as a talent management company. His ventures into films – which by the way top domestic grossing charts – also yield him some income.

Thus, while we cannot find an exact value for Banky W’s net worth, it surely will be a head-turning amount.

Final thoughts…

One thing that shines through Banky W’s biography is the fact that he has achieved a lot before he has even clocked forty. His drive to succeed through his talent and conviction is surely an inspiration to others who are still charting their paths.

Crossing over from music to film and then politics also proves that Wellington has what it takes to even achieve more than he already has. There have been awards and recognitions that are testaments to the fact that the world appreciates what he has given.  We look forward to more from him in the future.

Bonus Banky W information

Banky W Albums

1. Undeniable (2003) tracklist

  • Aiyyo
  • Don’t Wanna
  • Undeniable
  • Make U Feel
  • Thank You
  • Bonus Snippets

2. Back in the Building (2006)

  • Intro + Instrumental
  • Ay Mami
  • Don’t Wanna
  • My Regret
  • Come Back
  • Loving U is Crucial
  • Hard Times
  • Leave Me
  • Oh Baby (remix)
  • I Adore U
  • Aiyyo
  • Undeniable
  • Thank You

3. Capable (2008)

  • Intro
  • Do It Like This
  • Capable
  • Work You Out
  • African Girl
  • Know Your Name
  • 2:45AM
  • Ur The Only One (Remix)
  • Till My Dying Day
  • Majekodunmi
  • All I Wanna Do
  • Could Have Been
  • Heartbreaker
  • My Regret
  • You Really Don’t Know Me

4. The W Experience (2009)

  • The W Experience
  • Can’t Stop Me (O o to be)
  • Strong Ting
  • Omoge You Too Much
  • Lagos Party
  • Thief My Kele
  • Tanker
  • No Be Lie
  • Follow You Go
  • Feeling It
  • So Brand New
  • Nobody
  • Why
  • Lagos Party Remix
  • Strong Ting Remix
  • Strong Ting Instrumental
  • Lagos Party Instrumental

5. R&BW (2013)

  • The Way
  • Good Good Loving
  • Magic
  • Find You
  • Yes/No
  • Low Key
  • Do It To Me
  • Be My Lover
  • Say
  • Past My Past
  • To My Unborn Child
  • African & Proud
  • Never Let You Go
  • Good Good Loving Remix
  • More
  • Mercy

Banky W awards

  1. R&B/Soul Artist of the Year, Urban Independent Music Awards, USA, 2003
  2. John Lennon Song Writing Award 2006, R&B Category, for ‘My Regret’
  3. Best R&B Artiste, Nigerian Entertainment Awards 2006
  4. Best Male R&B Artiste, Urban Independent Music Awards, USA, 2006
  5. Best International Album, Nigerian Entertainment Awards 2007 for ‘Mr Capable’
  6. Best R&B Video, Nigerian Music Video Awards 2008 for ‘Don’t Break My Heart’
  7. Best Male Vocal Performance, Hip hop World Awards 2009 for ‘Don’t Break My Heart’
  8. R&B Single of the year, 2010 Hip Hop World Awards for ‘Strong Ting’
  9. Best R&B Singer (Male) and Best Music Video 2010 City People Entertainment Awards
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About The Author

Obinna

Obinna is a fiction writer from Lagos, Nigeria, and grew up loving comic book characters and superheroes. He watches lots of action films and writes entertainment and technology articles. He is also interested in science and how things work.

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