Introducing Ellie Ajao

Introducing Ellie Ajao

25th April 2023
Introducing Ellie Ajao - YPIA Blog
Written by Ellie Ajao | 25th April 2023

Hi! I’m Ellie, and I’m so excited to be hosting ‘Intern to CEO’ on Tuesday. It’s such a privilege to be interviewing Lisa Tregale, and digging into her marvellous career.

I grew up in Solihull, a town just outside of Birmingham in the West Midlands. I was fortunate to have a very musical family, who always encouraged me to explore the arts in every way possible. My grandmother, a retired piano teacher, gave me singing, piano and music theory lessons from an early age, and I was given my first violin for Christmas when I was 5.

I went to a state-funded primary school, and a comprehensive secondary school, where the music facilities were pretty much non-existent. It was a huge shame, because the rest of my comprehensive education was great, I really needed a school that could nurture my musicality. We looked into private schools, but given that my mum (an NHS nurse) was raising me by myself, it was financially out of reach for us. However, we heard through friends about bursaries and scholarships to a local independent school, so I applied for both and they awarded us an incredibly generous discount, meaning it was just within our reach. So, at the age of 13, I moved to Solihull School.

When I first stepped into the music department at my new school, I remember my mouth hanging open like a trout. This building was as big as the entire Sixth Form at my previous school! There were a dozen fully-kitted-out Practice Rooms, a recital hall, an Ensemble Rehearsal Space, and three purpose-built classrooms laden with Macs and keyboards. This building very quickly became my home, and I still hold it and its incredible staff in a place very close to my heart. The rest of my school experience wasn’t quite so positive, I struggled socially (as most creatives do), and kept myself to myself outside the music department. Despite this, I’m hugely grateful for my time at school as it led me to Royal Holloway, University of London, where I undertook my Music degree as a choral scholar. My plan was to head straight back to school after I’d completed my degree and become a teacher.

At Royal Holloway, I had some of the most fantastic experiences of my life, from a CD recording in France, to singing for Ellie Goulding’s wedding! The opportunities were endless, and I made friends for life and found my voice in more ways than one. I learned how to express myself, I discovered that I love talking and that teaching wasn’t my calling after all. Those people on the radio had bodies, the people on TV had legs, and if I loved talking about music, why couldn’t I be a presenter? So to get some practise in straight away, I started a podcast about underrepresented musicians with a friend. My boyfriend came up with the fabulous idea of calling it ‘Down with the Patri-Bachy’, and we recorded each episode on our phones, under our duvets from opposite ends of the country during the pandemic. It was an experience, but it was my baby and I loved it!

Behind the scenes, I was also working as a freelance author, writing the fun pocket books you find in Urban Outfitters and Oliver Bonas. I submitted some of my writing to Summersdale Publishers back in 2020, and I ended up writing two books for them Iconic People of Colour and Planet-Friendly Hacks.

Towards the end of 2020, BBC Radio 3 announced that they’d be running a brand new traineeship scheme called ‘BBC Open Music’, which aimed to provide an exciting platform for young musicians, producers and presenters. It sounded right up my street, and after several rounds of Zoom interviews, I was awarded a coveted place on the scheme. I was given a mentor, broadcaster Chineke! bassoonist, Linton Stephens. He was terrific from our very first meeting, and he inspired me to be my most confident self.

I kept showing up and networking with the right people, constantly updating my LinkedIn, and I was given the opportunity to host the 2022 BBC Proms launch event. This was major for me and my career, I was standing up on a platform at Printworks in front of a crowd of industry experts (and agents) so I dressed to impress and did the absolute best job I could. In September of that year, I was offered a pilot for a new series of ‘Sounds Connected’ on BBC Radio 3. After what seemed like years of anticipation (but actually just a couple of months!) I was commissioned for a series of the show, and headed off to Broadcasting House to get started!

I also model, and am so fortunate to have been involved in campaigns with some wonderful brands including Disney and Huel, and I’ve loved having the opportunity to do something totally different but just as creative.

I graduated from Royal Holloway in 2022, and since then I’ve been living my best life as a ‘Freelance Creative’, which just means I’ve been writing, presenting and making music. As a young creative myself, I’m so excited to be a part of Tuesday’s event, to explore Lisa’s fascinating career in depth and to learn some tricks of the trade. I hope you’ll find it as helpful and interesting as I will! And don’t forget, there’ll be time for your questions at the end…

You can get your tickets for tonight's event here