More than 25 years as a resolute educator and motivator teaching students of all ages in the California school system

Yoli has fused her thirst for creativity and entrepreneurship with 25 years as a resolute educator/motivator teaching third graders, high schoolers, college students, and adults throughout the California school system. 

Our History

Yoli credits encouragement from the students that attended her workshops as the impetus to build her brand.

After thirteen years, she recorded and released her debut album, Back to Me. It comprised ten original songs and collaborations with co-writers Jackson Morgan, Akelee Relliford, Jamal Whittington, and Ferrell Drew. Grammy Award-winning producer, Augie Ray (Erica Campbell for Best Gospel Album 2014, Rhianna, Sir Elton John) produced the album and Beloryze served as coproducer. Yoli released Back to Me independently via her company, Yoli Tamu Enterprises (March 7, 2014).

Her album inspired her to establish the Back to Me Project (2016), a curated multi-media brand platform.

It emanated as a series of four theme workshops which also served as topics for speaking engagements. She parlayed it into creating a Back to Me one-woman show which fuses her authentic storytelling and life lessons with live performances of songs featured on her Back to Me album. Yoli performed her first one-woman show at her alma mater, Howard University, Washington, D.C. She got her feet wet with her first speaking engagement at Cal State Fullerton (2013).

In 2020 she launched the Back to Me Project Podcast: College and Beyond, which has racked up 97 episodes and is available on Spotify, Apple, and Google Podcasts

Her 30-minute weekly podcast features monthly themes and special guest interviews.

Next on her “to do” list was to author her first book, Back to Me: A Devotional Walk for the College Freshman Woman, which she self-published on Amazon (February 2018) and partnered with The National College Resources Foundation in support of The Black College Expo Conference the same year. An audible version is due out in 2022/2023.

While her Back to Me world is furtive and growing exponentially every year, getting here has been an ominous challenge, and required years of therapy, completely overhauling her inner core and self-perception.

Enduring that sexual attack threw her into a deep psychological tailspin on the precipice of fulfilling a childhood dream to attend and graduate from Howard.

In 1993, she was a 21-year-old senior at Howard University. One day, while walking home she experienced every woman’s worst nightmare—which shattered her world.

Yoli had just received clearance to graduate, and was feeling ecstatic, joyous, and proud. She was looking forward to sharing the news with her family. Out of nowhere, a serial rapist grabbed her from behind with a gun plunged into her side. He forced her down a hidden stairwell at the back of a house. He demanded she pull her pants down. Yoli closed her eyes, prayed, and summoned the courage to risk losing her life by preparing to fight rather than letting him rape her. She then had an out-of-body experience and felt the “Presence” of what she believed was God. Preparing for the worst, she opened her eyes only to discover that her assailant had vanished.

After graduating, Yoli spent years in therapy. “I had to rebuild my perspective of the world and how it looked prior to my assault,” she explained.

She was a die-hard fan of celebrated actor, producer, director, Debbie Allen, and she fantasized about following in Allen’s footsteps by attending Howard University. As a Musical Theatre major, she traveled to Hong Kong and performed in a Howard production of Dreamgirls. With the support of family and friends, she attended her graduation and triumphantly earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Musical Theatre.

Yoli grew up in Altadena, CA with loving, hardworking parents and two siblings. Her mother, a schoolteacher and gospel choir director and her late father, an actor and trucking contractor for the U.S. Post Office, empowered her to be a strongminded and independent thinking woman. They named her after Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s daughter, Yolanda, and Tamu, (African Swahili for “sweet”), her middle name after notable activist and scholar, Angela Davis. She started singing as a child and was most influenced by Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston.

“Therapy coupled with embracing my spirituality and God helped me rebuild trust in myself. I methodically learned how to get past what felt like interminable depression.”

In 1994, she sang back up with Karyn White on White’s single, “Can I Stay With You,” written and produced by Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, which was featured on her album, “Make Him Do It Right.” She continued to pursue her career in music, and performed in Kobe, Japan where she met renowned artists, such as Frankie Beverly, MAZE, and Charlie Wilson. Upon her return to the States, Frankie Beverly invited her to perform as an opening act for one of his concerts.

During the next decade, Yoli pivoted and changed her trajectory personally and professionally. She became a teacher and taught elementary, high school and college students, and has steadfastly remained committed for the past 25 years. It’s been her haven, and where she has excelled as an educator and motivator for youth.

In early 2000, she got her first major break, signing to Los Angeles based production company, Tuff Break Entertainment, who secured a recording / distribution pact with Warner Bros. Records. She recorded a full album of pop, soul, rhythm & blues, and rock songs.

She recorded a full album of pop, soul, rhythm & blues, and rock songs. A-list songwriters/producers including David Gamson (Chaka Khan), Jose Quintana (Santana), David Kershenbaum (Tracy Chapman), and Narada Michael Walden (Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey) contributed to the album. It also featured guest performances by MeShell Ndegeocello, Siedah Garrett and the Doobie Brother’s Jeff “Skunk” Baxter.

The album title, “Breathing Under Water” was the first single released. Unfortunately, what should have been an auspicious debut backfired when Warner Bros. pulled the plug and opted not to release her album. That same year, she took another leap of faith and married her best friend on Malcolm X’s birthday, May 19th (2001).

Although they never released her album, “Aint’ No Sunshine,” one of the album tracks was featured on the soundtrack for the motion picture, “Deliver Us from Eva” (Focus Features, Feb/2003) which starred Gabrielle Union, LL Cool J, Meagan Good and Duane Martin. The film was adapted from William Shakespeare’s play, “Taming of the Shrew.”

The following year she earned a Master of Education Degree in Cross-Cultural Teaching from National University in La Jolla, California, (2004). In 2006 she founded the Unity Theatre Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization designed to serve as an outlet of creative expression for young people. In 2008, after seven years of marriage she got divorced.

Yoli has never allowed trauma to smother or thwart her dreams. Her story is one of triumph over strategy. She summarizes it by noting, “I’ve discovered that my elixir is channeling my vulnerability and life-changing stories into teachable lessons. Whether it’s my podcast, speaking, teaching, or through song, my spiritual passion is to touch and impact the lives of young people.”