International Women’s Day: Celebrating Nigerian Women In Music
In the Nigerian music industry men have dominated, setting the tune for how things have been run but over the years, women have gradually made their voices heard and are now a force to be reckon with.
The Nigerian female artists have started making some noise and making a huge impact on the national and international stage.
Seeing today is the celebration of International Women’s Day, we want to recognize a few Nigerian female artist who have been inspirations to other women and lovers of music.
Rhythm FM presents 5 of these women below:
Onyeka Onwenu (born 17 May 1952) is a Nigerian singer, songwriter, actress, journalist, politician, and X Factor series judge. She is the youngest daughter of the Nigerian educationist and politician D.K Onwenu. Dubbed the “Elegant Stallion” by the Nigerian press, she is a former chairperson of the Imo State Council for Arts and Culture, and currently the Executive Director/chief executive officer of the National Centre for Women Development.
Onwenu began her music career in 1981 while still working with the NTA, releasing the album “For the Love of You”. Originally a secular artist, she now sings mainly gospel music, and continues to write and sing about issues such as health (HIV/AIDS), peace and mutual coexistence, respect for women rights and the plight of children. Her latest effort titled, “Inspiration for Change,” focuses on the need for an attitudinal turn around in Nigeria.
She is in partnership with Paris-based La Cave Musik, headed by Nigerian cultural entrepreneur Onyeka Nwelue, and UK-based Jungle Entertainment Ventures, headed by musicologist David Evans-Uhegbu. La Cave Musik is set to release her collection titled Rebirth of a Legend in November.
In 2013, she was named as one of the three judges on the Nigerian version of The X Factor. In recognition of her contribution to music and arts in Nigeria, she has been celebrated by professionals like Mahmood Ali-Balogun, Laolu Akins, Charles O’Tudor, and former PMAN president Tony Okoroji among others in the arts industry in Nigeria.
Born Bukola Elemide, Aṣa was born in Paris, France to her Nigerian parents. Her family returned to live in Nigeria when she was two. Aṣa grew up in a small town near Lagos, in the south-western part of Nigeria. Twenty years later, Aṣa returned to Paris where her life as an artist took off.
Whenever Asa came home from school in Nigeria, she discovered musical acts like Erykah Badu, D’Angelo, Raphael Saadiq, Lauryn Hill, Femi Kuti and Angélique Kidjo. This was while she was in pursuit of educational excellence, and these musical acts are whose footprints she dreamed of following.
She has followed that path in a career which has birthed so many highs and produced some of the best sounds to come out of Africa. Her rich discography include four albums including “Asa” (2007), “Live In Paris” (2009), “Beautiful Imperfection” (2010), “Bed Of Stone” (2014).
Awards for the singer has flowed in from all over the continets, with Asa’s concert dates spanning multiple European cities.
Asa maintains her position at the top of alternative music, exporting Nigeria to the world.
Tiwa Savage Balogun is one Nigerian female artist with the phrase “star” written all over her. This Nigerian beauty is a triple threat with her natural songwriting ability, her electrifying stage presence and a voice that stays powerful through many stages.
Mrs. Savage took over Africa with the single “Kele Kele Love”, which went on to become an anthem for women everywhere around as it took the number one spot on numerous radio and television stations across the continent.
Her big break was at age 16 when she started off a background singer for George Michael. Her determination didn’t stop there as she went on to do backup singing for a host of artistes including Mary J. Blige, Chaka Khan, Blu Cantrell, Kelly Clarkson, Andreas Bocelli, Ms Dynamite, and much more.
This University of Kent graduate has written for some of today’s A-list artistes and producers and has also received numerous song-writing credits. She has won the City People Entertainment Award for ‘Female Musician of the Year’, ‘Best R&B Soul Song’ for ‘Kele Kele Love’ at the Afrotainment Museke Online Music Awards, ‘Most Stylish Female Artiste’ at the FAB Magazine Awards and ‘Most Promising Act’ at the Dynamix Youth Awards. She also picked up the ‘Best Female Act’ at MTV Africa Music Awards, Best Vocal Performance (Female) (The Headies), and was nominated for the ‘BET International Act Award’.
Her hard work has paid off so much she is a brand ambassador for MTN, Pepsi and Forte Oil.
Yemi Eberechi Alade simply known as Yemi Alade, is currently Nigeria’s Afro-pop darling. She came into the limelight after winning the Peak Talent Show in 2009, and is best known for her hit single “Johnny.”
Yemi Alade’s star has risen meteorically, and this is off her hit single ‘Johnny’, and the singles off her debut album “King Of Queens” including ‘Tangerine’, ‘Kissing’ and ‘Taking Over Me’.
‘Johnny’ was listed as one of the best songs of 2013, despite the fact that it was released towards the end of the year and without a music video. The song was her breakthrough in the Nigeria music industry.
She featured on the covers of several magazines and performed around the world, sharing stages and songs with Mary J. Blige, Shina Peters, M.I, Wizkid, Becca, May D, Waje and Yemi Sax. She also headlined the Super Diva’s Nite at the 2013 Calabar Festival, and opened for the 2013 Headies Awards Endorsement for the artiste have come from CloseUp, who jointly signed her with Davido.
In 2014, Alade was featured on Yung6ix‘s track “Lights”, as well as on a remix of “Sebiwo” by Beninese afropop star Lace. Alade teamed up with award-winning cinematographer Clarence Peters to create a music video for “Johnny”, which was released in March 2014 to critical acclaim and currently has more than 86 million views on YouTube.
She has been actively involved with Coke Studio Africa, and continues to be revered across the continent for all her good works and performances. Her sophomore album “Mama Africa” was released in 2016 and she followed that up with the released of her third album “Black Magic”.
She has won numerious music awards over the years but most memorable was winning MTV African Music Award ‘Best Female artiste’ in 2015 & 2016.
Omawumi rose to prominence as a contestant on Idols West Africa. Omawumi, with her strong voice and out-going personality, was voted the 1st runner-up of the competition when it ended in May 2007.
Omawunmi got down to music proper when she dropped her first single called ‘In The Music’ in 2008. Her first album was released in 2009 and it was titled Wonder Woman. It had hit songs like “Ma Fi Mi Shere” in which she featured Eldee The Don, “Chocolata” featuring Naeto C and “Today Na Today”. Her second album, “Lasso Of Truth”, which was released in 2014 has also been well received by her numerous fans across the globe.
Since then, she has had numerous performances on the stage with musicians such as P-Square, 2face Idibia, D’Banj, Banky W, M.I, Sasha, 9ice, Chaka Demus and Pliers, Carl Thomas, Angie Stone and Donell Jones, Angelique Kidjo , among others.
Omawumi is married to her husband Tosin Yussuf and they have two children together. She welcomed her first child, Emmanuella Kamillah Yusuf (girl) in June 2011 and her second child (boy) in July 2015.
Apart from a music career Omawunmi also has an acting career. Omawumi played a minor role in the 2009 edition of the V-Monolugues, a play that reflects the negative issues affecting women in Nigeria.
She also starred in the musical play Olurombi. She had a minor role in the movie Inale, a Hollywood/Nollywood Bongos-Ikwe production, starring Hakeem Kae Kazeem, Dede Mabiaku, and Ini Edo.
In 2011, she starred in Funke Akindele‘s “Return of Jenifa”. And also starred in Yvonne Nelson’s “House of Gold” (2013) alongside Majid Michel and Ice Prince.
Omawunmi has been involved in a few non-governmental organisations like Project Alert Pink Pearl Foundation and projects like Notes2notes, and Maga No Need Pay which tried to intimate Nigerian youths on the need to stop involvement in cyber crimes and fraud.
These five women depict the definition of hard work and dedication. They have changed the game in the Nigerian music industry and have paved the way for other aspiring female artistes.
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