1. Lola Rae (England)
Rachel Akosua Funmilola Garton, born 20 January 1991, professionally known as Lola Rae, is a Nigerian singer and dancer of British descent. She gained recognition following the release of her debut single "Watch My Ting Go", which received critical acclaim and thus earned her a nomination for Most Promising Female Act to Watch at the 2013 Nigeria Entertainment Awards.
Born to a British father in Obalende, a suburb of Lagos, Lola Rae attained her primary and secondary school education at St. Saviours School, Ikoyi and Lekki British International High School, Lagos, respectively. She however left Nigeria for England at the age of 15 to complete her university education at Central Saint Martins, where she studied fashion textiles.
Lola Rae's entertainment career started as a dancer when she was a member of the dance group Mystikal, and in 2010, she auditioned for Britain's Got Talent. Rae sang in the competition and judge Simon Cowell singled Mystikal out at the semi-final of the competition, and upon the end of the competition, Mystikal was signed to Syco for a year. Rae turned down an invitation to The X Factor in order to pursue a solo career as a singer.
On 19 November 2012, Rae released her debut hit single Watch My Ting Go and a follow up single titled High, and she was nominated as the "Most Promising Female Act to Watch" at the 2013 Nigeria Entertainment Awards.
Following Watch My Ting Go, Rae featured Iyanya on a song titled Fi Mi Le which earned Rae another nomination at the 2014 Nigeria Entertainment Awards. She then made a cameo appearance as Ice Prince's love interest in the music video for his song "More". In May 2018, Rae gave birth to a daughter named Skye Yaa Amaka Kelechi, whose father is Tekno (musician).
2. Di’Ja (Sierra Leone)
Hadiza Blell professionally known as Di’Ja or Aphrodija is a Nigerian singer, song-writer visual artist, and humanitarian who began her career in 2008 in Canada before coming to Nigeria. In Nigeria, she signed under the Mavin Records and has produced amazing songs including Awww, a song that was positively received by Nigerians.
Hadiza Salma Blell was born on August 14 in Kaduna to a Sierra Leonean and a Nigerian born mother. So, she is a multilinguist and have lived in Nigeria, Sierra Leone, United States, and Canada. Also, she has a degree in Biology and Psychology, and earning a degree, she has gone on to fulfill her career goal in music, art and philosophy.
Di’ja began her music career in 2008, and in the same year, she released her first single titled Rock Steady, for which she earned a nomination for the Canadian Radio Music Award in 2009.
Also, in 2008, Di’ja participated in a competition against hundreds of participants,and her performance earned her a Beat Music Award in 2008, and a production deal with the international outfit, RockSTAR Music Corporation.
Later, she met Don Jazzy, and after undergoing training, she was officially endorsed into the Mavin Records in 2014, and to mark this endorsement, she released an official single titled Yaro (2014).
Also, in 2014, she released Awww, a song widely received with lots of airplays on media. Subsequently, Di’ja collaborated with other acts of the label and together they released songs like Adaobi, Dorobucci, Looku Looku, and till date, Di’ja has remained under the label and has released several songs including an EP, Aphrodija. The Music diva got married to her lover, Rotimi Olo in 2015 and the union is blessed with children.
3. Prince Nico Mbarga (Cameroon)
Distinguish from Dr Nico.Nico Mbarga, 1 January 1950 – 24 June 1997, better known as Prince Nico Mbarga, was a highlife musician, born to a Nigerian mother and a Cameroonian father in Abakaliki, Nigeria. He is renowned for his hit song "Sweet Mother", recorded with his band Rocafil Jazz.
He played the xylophone, conga, drums, and electric guitar in school bands and he made his professional debut as a member of a hotel band, the Melody Orchestra, in 1970. Although he only recorded one significant hit, "Sweet Mother," in 1976, which sold more than 13 million copies and which is recognised as one of Africa's greatest songs, Mbarga played an important role in the evolution of African popular music. With his soulful vocals set to the light melodies of his acoustic guitar, Mbarga created a unique hybrid of Igbo and Congolese guitar playing and uplifting highlife rhythms. He formed his own group, Rocafil Jazz, to perform regularly at the Plaza Hotel in the eastern Nigerian city of Onitsha.
After releasing a disappointing single in 1973, Mbarga and Rocafil Jazz had their first success with their second single, I No Go Marry My Papa, which became a regional hit. The band's inability to break past their local following resulted in their recording contract being dropped by EMI, a decision that proved ill-fortuned when the band signed with Rogers All Stars, a Nigerian recording company based in Onitsha, and recorded "Sweet Mother". Sung in Pidgin English, "Sweet Mother" became one of the top sellers in the history of Nigerian music, and in the six years that Mbarga and Rocafil Jazz remained with Rogers All Stars, 1975 to 1981, they recorded nine albums.
On a repeat tour to England in 1982, Mbarga became known for his flamboyant, 1970s glam rock-inspired performances, and while he continued to appear with Rocafil Jazz, Mbarga also performed with London-based highlife band the Ivory Coasters and former Rocafil Jazz member, Cameroonian vocalist Louisiana Tilda. Despite launching his own Polydor-distributed record label, upon returning to Nigeria, Mbarga and the original members of Rocafil Jazz separated after some disagreements, and although he later formed the New Rocafil Jazz Band, Mbarga failed to match his early success. Leaving music, he turned his attention to managing the 4-star hotel that he owned, the Sweet Mother Hotel, located in the town of Ikom just minutes away from the Cameroon-Nigeria border.
Prince Nico Mbarga was killed in a motorcycle accident on June 24, 1997, leaving behind "Sweet Mother" as the most popular song amongst Nigerians. Sweet Mother is sometimes called Africa's anthem and has been voted Africa's favourite song by BBC readers and listeners.
4. Eddy Wata (Jamaica)
Eddy Wata, born to a Nigerian mother and Jamaican father in 1976 is a Nigerian Eurodance artist who learned to play the battery-operated keyboard at a very young age.
Meeting with Jamaica reggae artists during his four years stay in Jamaica, he felt a surge of love for the genre which gingered him to form a Reggae band upon his return to Nigeria. In 2001, he toured Europe following an increase in his fan base due to his Television appearances and soon became popular in the European dance scene as a result of his contract with the Italian producer Diego Milesi. In 2003, he released the hit single "Jam" which was followed by "In Your Mind" and "The Bomb" but it was the song "I Love My People" in 2008 that put permanent on his star status, transcending culture and nationality and getting him the moniker, King of reggae dance.
He released "My dream" in 2009, "I Like the Way" in 2010 which scored the Top 10 position in no less than 20 countries. He released "Senorita" in 2011 and even though he has not been on the music scene for some time, he remains loved in Nigeria and many African countries, in Italy, France, Spain, Belgium, Netherlands, in Scandinavian and Eastern European countries, in Brazil, the Middle East up to the Far East.
During his time in the spotlight, Eddy Wata did club performances and promotions in Romania, Spain, France, Greece, Bulgaria, Poland, Albania, Israel and Turkey.
5. Tems (England)
Tems, a Nigerian singer and songwriter born in Lagos on 11th July 1995, grew up singing in her church choir in 2009 and rose to become one of the young famous singers in Nigeria. The success of her 2019’s Try Me saw her emerge into a big name in the music industry, and also, the fact that she released a song with American musician Khalid and Nigerian hip hop start, Davido, she landed herself right in the hall of fame.
Tems was born on the 11th of July, 1995, in Lagos, into a family of a Nigerian mum and British father. Her father left her mum when she was 5, so she was raised by her single mum. After her primary education which she did in Lagos, she attended Dowen College in Lekki, and she later moved to Johannesburg to study Economics in a South African university. She took the basic steps in becoming a wonderful musician during her childhood days, she recorded songs with her school choir and practiced with her brother’s guitar. According to a documentary with MU Narratives, she recounted how her music teacher encouraged her to sing with her real voice when she doubted her capability.
The alternative singer’s journey into the music industry began when she released her first EP, “Time Swap EP” in 2013. Her first recognized single, “Mr. Rebel”, a song that got more than 200,000 views on youtube came after her album “Illumination” in 2018. She followed it up with another single, titled “Looku Looku,” a song that was widely accepted and Nigerian radio stations gave it enough air-plays.
She measured up with another hit single, “Try me”, and solidified her name in the hall of fame.
In 2020, she got a collaboration with DJ Khalid in a single titled “Know Your Worth”. The uplifting music “Know Your Worth” also featured Nigerian superstar, Davido, and Disclosure and made it to Barack Obama’s playlist for summer 2020.
In 2019, Tems was nominated for the Best Vocal Performance (Female) and Best Alternative Song for her single “Mr. Rebel”, during the Headies award. She was also nominated for Headies Awards for the Next Rated alongside Oxlade, Bella Shrumuda, and Omah Lay.
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