Irini Toufexis family relocated to the UK following the troubles of 1974 when she was aged 3. She grew up in Stamford Hill proudly self-defining both as a Hackney girl and as Cypriot. Irini was also known for her creative flair. She was a gifted and vocalist and lyricist, her lyrics notebook always close by. Her mum Carol recalls that as a child Irini started singing more or less as soon as she realised that she could. (Follow the link to hear Soveks Lo’s Irini – 24/7- Singer Songwriter the story podcast to hear an engaging interview with Irini, her family and fellow singer songwriters).

Following an introduction by a mutual friend and neighbour Irini was discovered by Everton McCalla, drummer and lyricist with Light of the World and Freeze. McCalla immediately recognised her potential which led to Irini’s initial studio recording experience. Her talent first came to the attention of a wider audience in the early 1990s after Irini ended up by chance recording 24-7 Love, a song she co-wrote with and her sister Marina. The girls wrote the song for another artist and when the singer did not arrive at the studio Irini was asked to step in and record it herself. She sung the song to the top of the UK Soul music charts in 1993. Her voice and style reflected her dedication to ‘rare groove’, the eclectic soul music that she had grown up with. The UK Soul scene welcomed the song as a unique contribution and in 1994 24-7 Love was celebrated at the Black Music Awards where Irini won best newcomer. Irini’s work continued to generate much interest. After the success of 24-7 Love she followed up with another chart topper with the song Don’t Let Them Know on the same label, Stone Cold Gentleman Records.

At home Irini was at the centre of an ever-expanding community of friends who often met around the kitchen table to share so many chats, joy and laughter. The family moved back to Cyprus in the mid-1990s. Soon after, Irini, still in the UK received a misdiagnosis for a condition that was later identified as multiple sclerosis back in Cyprus. She returned to be near her family and continued doing what she loved most which was writing songs. Irini passed away peacefully on Friday 20th November 2020. The funeral took place in Lythrothondas on Saturday 28th November at 11am Cyprus time. At the same time in the UK her friends gathered outside the old family home in Stamford Hill to give thanks for and celebrate Irini’s wonderful life. Our thoughts are all with Irini’s parents Carol and George Toufexis, her sister Marina and family.

Chhristalla Michael


Don’t Let Them Know

Irini – our tributes to a unique soul

Everton McCalla – musician/producer – Light Of The World & Freeez
Irini, the beautiful, charming, talented artist and songwriter was just a baby of 16 or 17 years old when we were introduced as neighbours. I was blown away by the love songs and melodies she wrote at such a young age. So I met the family and asked if I could produce a few songs in my studio with her. And they said yes and that’s when we knew she had real talent. Motown inspired love songs were oozing out of her WOW! Then shortly after she had a hit record entitled “24/7 Love” that made the British Soul Charts which she performed up and down the country… Irini your a star, singing with Angel’s R I P, Never forgotten!

Hayley Bailey – Friend & Photographer
I met Irini in 1986 when we were teenagers as her and her family lived around the corner from my family plus we went to the same secondary school. On first meeting Irini, I was blown away by her natural beauty and artistic flair. Not only was Irini beautiful but she was also so funny and always made me laugh with her crazy jokes over cups of tea in Northfield Road. I remember when my cousin got married and Irini came to the reception on Holly Street estate and wowed everyone with her dancing moves. Irini had rhythm! She definitely stole the show albeit unintentionally but even my cousin (the bride) loved Irini’s dancing. I was last in Cyprus 2017 but didn’t get to see Irini at that time due to her illness although, on previous visits we did spent time together which I’m eternally grateful for. Thank you for being in my life Irini. I’ll never forget you. RIP beautiful.

Skevos Loizou friend/podcaster/broadcaster
We can all be so proud of Irini, beautiful, stylish, poetic, writer, singer, performer but what stands out most was her fearless courage. Whether it would be to stand up and perform in front of crowds in clubs or being in Lythrodontas in a coffee shop full of men. None of that bothered Irini who in her own elegant way just walked in and owned the stage and the coffeeshop. Not scared of the stares she had a style and swagger second to none. Her family should also be so proud of as Irini’s illness progressively worsened, they really stood by her and made her life more comfortable. Irini was a blessing so just think about those wonderful moments Irini brought into all our lives that soulful spirt we all know as 24/7.

Junior Giscombe – Singer/Songwriter
I never had the pleasure of meeting Irini but I heard her music and felt the warmth of her soul as she sang. I learnt later that she had MS which was the contributing factor to us not hearing more of her work and that individualistic voice. She has left great memories for those who use her music as a tapestry to their life, something rarely achieved by artists whose careers where cut short. The love she shared lives on, her spirit and courage I’m sure has left it’s mark, forever in embedded in the minds and hearts of those who knew her best and enjoyed her art… Music has the capacity to realign and heal the inner soul. She will never be forgotten….

Lorraine King -Journalist & Radio Presenter
Irini was truly loved. Whether you had met Irini in person or not you fell in love with her because of her beautiful music. We spoke to each other through her older sister Marina for years and years and I know she was a warm, loving and wonderful person. Her very close bond with her family and friends also makes that clear. I was so looking forward to meeting Irini in April but coronavirus put a stop to that… but her music is her legacy and I will never forget her

Jimmy Mixologist – Sound Engineer, Producer, Bassist Spartacus Band
I was around Irini when I was growing up as a young man. Irini was a beautiful soul with an amazing talent in singing . She sang with her heart and soul and you really felt it when she sang, her voice touched people. She was a great person, always smiling and laughing and that’s how I will always remember her. RIP Irini

Haji Mike – brother-in-law/DJ/Associate Professor University of Nicosia
Irini means so much to so many people. She reached far and wide with her wonderful voice and in a short life time she achieved so much and yet so much was taken away from her. Despite all that, she always smiled, never complained and fought on…A beautiful soul is now flying free…We will miss you, always, Irini xxx
Mike Minas – Bouzouki player/music producer Minas Studio
I had the pleasure of working with Irini at my studio. She had such a great and unique voice and was such a humble soul. Being in the studio with her was always a pleasure…Irini will be sadly missed RIP XXX

Marios Avraam DJ on Greekbeat Radio

Remembering you is easy I do it every day
With love and respect
For the beautiful music
You sent my way
Rest in peace
My sweet angel your memory be eternal
Now and every day.
love you Irini For your creativity and joy
We will always have that feeling in our hearts…eternally….

Jack Reuben – MC & MD at Launchpad Multi – Media
I first met Irini back in the year 1993 at The Black Music Awards at a Venue in Trafalgar Square London. I actually heard her before I saw her as Irini was making an impact on Urban Radio with her song ’24/7 Love’ which was fast becoming a Club hit. We both collected Awards that night and struck up a friendship which has lasted up until her passing. After Irini set up home in Cyprus I saw less of her but always held her dear in my memories as she was warm, funny and talented. I will miss her presence and her flame will never go out in my heart and mind. Thank you Irini for gracing us with your talent, personality and warmth. Until we meet again Rest In Paradise.
Don-e – singer/songwriter/musician/producer
Irini was a lovely person inside and out. I met her on the music scene in the 90s as we were both out at the same time. I remember ’24/7 love’ it was a massive choon! We both connected at various soul shows in London and she always rocked. Irini will be greatly missed, she is a UK soul legend and I’m sure she is singing with the angels now. God bless her.
Helen Mitchell – friend/Blue Enigma
My memory of Irini is jumping… and all consuming. I remember her modesty most… her beauty, her ease of self. I remember her dancing, wearing trousers more than dresses, modelling, clubbing, smoking (whilst popping polo mints) singing and being happy. I remember men drooling over her, and women wanting to be just like her. I remember her great love.
I remember her being paralysed in bed (on more than one occasion) and not knowing what was wrong. I remember her going to Cyprus to re-join her family and learning there that she had Multiple Sclerosis (MS); the doctors in the UK misdiagnosed her. I remember speaking to her after her first bout of being in a wheelchair unable to walk and she telling me point blank that by hook or crook she will walk again; and she did, with a limp that she stylised. She fought MS with so much faith, confidence and courage. I will always miss you, Irini, but am thankful that today you’re at peace, out of pain and renewed to your former self. Irini’s star shines brightly over everyone now.

Paul Funksy – founder/MD Greekbeat Radio
I would like to wish Irini eternal peace now that she has ended her struggle, now being able to enjoy the afterlife … the next chapter. I am not aware of how the condition effected her but I just pray that she didn’t suffer too much. I know she had loving people around her and I hope that had some effect. I did not know Irini personally but I certainly knew and played her music. I would like to send my condolences to all the family and friends. I am proud to refer to her as our original and unique Cypriot Soulstress when spinning those special tunes in her memory. Sending all our love from Greekbeat Radio.

Tony Matthew – music producer

I first met Irini at the very beginning of my own music career while I was training alongside her sister Marina at the School of Audio Engineering in London many years ago. I remember that we begged Marina to bring her younger sister in to class one day so that we could record her vocals after the lessons finished, just to practise our amateur engineering skills. When Irini walked in I remember being totally speechless, a little shy and completely blown away by her beauty and presence and maybe a little star struck as I knew who she was at the time. She was a friendly, confident and a talented artist to work with and I was totally hooked as a fan from that day onwards. I was lucky enough to stay good friends with the family including Haji Mike over the years, who I went on to work with when I flew over to Cyprus a few times and spent lots of time with the whole family as well as working with Irini again in the studio. There’s not many artists who I have worked with over the years who totally had it all in my opinion, beauty, brains, personality and the ability to light up the room when they walked in and who was totally down to earth and funny at the same time. We’ve lost a beautiful soul, an angel and one of a kind, and I for one will never forget her from the very first time I met her.

3 Responses to A tribute to UK Cypriot singer/ songwriter Irini who sadly passed away

  1. Sly says:

    RIP Irini Toufexis, a great singer / songwriter and musical vocalist.
    Sly (Colourful Radio Presenter / DJ) and (Bright Star Awards Founder / Host)

  2. play jungle loudly says:

    24/7 needs another jungle remix. really lovely song

  3. Danelle says:

    So sad to learn of her passing just now.
    We were school mates and label mates. She was in the year above me. She was the loveliest person with a beautiful spirit – and that voice! We’d actually initially bonded singing and songwriting at school. It was such a lovely surprise to meet up again whilst at SCG Records. Rest in peace, paradise and power beautiful soul.

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