The impact of music on our day-to-day lives cannot be underestimated. It does as much as creating an identity for people and connecting them. Music is a combination of inspiration and art which goes a long way in shaping people’s daily routines.
Africa as a continent has musicians that not only make good music but have gained recognition globally, effectively showcasing the wealth of the African culture on the global stage. Some of these musicians have contributed immensely to making Africa a place of soul-lifting music, life-impacting art and entertainment.
Below are the list of 10 biggest musicians in Africa:
Fela is a Nigerian legendary musician and the father of Afrobeat. He was also a multi-instrumentalist, composer, and political activist. He was always pointing out the ill of the military government through his well-composed Afrobeat music. Reports even had it that he was arrested over 200 times before his death on August 2 1997 at age 58. Despite being late, his music is still widely accepted and evergreen, though he never received any award during his lifetime.
Fela’s full name is Olufela Olusegun Oludotun Ransome Kuti. He decided to pick the name ”Anikulapo” which means ”someone who has death in his pouch” over his middle name ”Ransome”. He stated that Ransome is a name for slaves. ”Abami Eda” as he was fondly called was born on October 15 1938 to the Late Madam Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti in Abeokuta. He studied music at Trinity College of Music.
The singer has a lot of music to his credit some of which include “Lady”, ”Water No Get Enemy”, ”Zombie”, ”Stalemate”, and ”Shakara”.
2. Onyeka Onwenu
Onyeka Onwenu is another iconic musician from Nigeria, Africa. She is a singer, broadcaster, actress, and social activist. She was originally a secular artist before she transitioned into a gospel artist.
Onyeka Onwenu was born on January 31 1952 in Obosi, Anambra State, Nigeria, as the youngest daughter of D.K Onwenu (father). She is 70 years old as of 2022. Her father was an educationist and politician. She obtained a degree in International Relations and Communication from Wellesley College, Massachusetts. She also obtained a Master’s Degree in Media Studies from New School for Social Research, New York.
The ”Elegant Stallion” as she is often called started her musical career in 1981 while still working as a broadcaster with NTA. Some of her albums include ”For the Love of You”, ”In the Morning Light”, ”One Love”, ”Onyeka”, and ”Endless Life” amongst others. She has also featured in movies like ”Nightmare”, ”Conspiracy”, ”Half of A Yellow Sun” and the likes.
3. Youssou N’dour
Youssou N’dour is a Senegalese singer, songwriter, activist, politician, and occasional actor. He became known after he featured on Peter Gabriel’s album ”So”. Youssou has songs and albums like ”Birima”, ”Mouride”, ”Set”, ”Shango Affair”, and ”Toxiques” to his credit since the launch of his career. He developed the Mbalax genre of Senegalese music. He was stated as the ”Most Famous Singer Alive” in 2004 by Rolling Stone Magazine.
Youssou was born on October 1 1959 in Dakar, Senegal. He is 62 years old as of September 2022. He started his musical career at the tender age of 12 in 1972 singing in clubs like the Kasse’s club. Since the launch of his career, he has won several awards like the Grammy Awards, Edison Awards, MTV Europe Music Awards, and Polar Music Awards. He served as Senegal’s Minister of Culture and Tourism from 2012 to 2013.
4. Angelique Kidjo
Angelique Kidjo is another African iconic singer, activist, and philanthropist from the Benin Republic. She is a UNICEF Ambassador and the founder of Batonga NGO. She is a 5-times Grammy Award winner. She was enlisted as the ”Most Decorated Female Artist” in the Time list of the 100 Most Influential People.
Angelique Kidjo’s full name is Angelique Kpasseloko Hinto Hounsinou Kandjo Manta Zogbin. She was born on July 14 1960 in Ouidah, Benin Republic. She is 62 years old as of 2022. She reportedly has roots in the Yoruba tribe of Nigeria. According to reports, she was influenced to become a musician at a tender because of her musically inclined parents. Some of Kidjo’s songs include ”Oyo”, ”Spirit Rising”, ”Mother Nature”, and ”Celia”.
The ”Lonely” crooner, Akon, is another fascinating African singer from Senegal. He is a Senegalese-American singer, songwriter, and producer. He is the CEO of the music record label ”Konvict Music”. He left the music scene in 2019 after leading a successful music career of over a decade to concentrate on business. He has been nominated for the Grammy Awards about 3 to 5 times.
Akon’s full name is Aliaume Damala Badara Akon Thiam. He was born on April 16 1973 in St. Louis Missouri, Senegal. He is 49 years old as of 2022. He started his musical career in early 2000. Some of his notable songs include ”Locked Up”, ”Trouble”, ”Konvicted”, and ”Freedom”.
6. Sho Madjozi
Sho Madjozi is a South-African rapper, singer, poet, and actress. She is one of the African singers that celebrate the African culture and heritage through their music as she fuses the Tsonga culture through her music and image. She made Forbes Africa’s 30 under 30 list in 2019. She is known for songs like ”Kona”, ”Idhom”, ”Huku”, and ”John Cena”.
Sho Madjozi’s full name is Maya Christinah Xichavo Wegerif. She was born on May 9 1992 in Shirley Village, Limpopo, South Africa. She is 30 years old as of 2022. She studied Creative Writing and African Studies in the USA through scholarship. She launched her career as a musician upon her return to South Africa after her graduation.
She came to the limelight after she collaborated with rapper Okmalum Koolkat on the track ”Ngiyashisa Bhe”, and the hit single ”Gqi”. She has won several awards like the South African Music Awards, BET Awards, and Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards.
Wizkid is a Nigerian singer, and songwriter. He is regarded as one of the top paid influencers in Africa. He is the CEO of the ”Starboy Entertainment” record label. He sings the Afrobeat, Afropop, and Dancehall genres of music. He is popularly known for songs like ”Ojuelegba”, ”Don’t Dull” and “Brown Skin Girl”.
Wizkid’s full name is Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun. He was born on July 16 1990 in Surulere, Lagos, as the only son of his mother. He is 32 years old as of 2022. “Machala” as he is fondly called by his fans started his musical career officially in 2009. His journey to stardom started in 2010 after he released the hit single ”Holla at Your Boy”. His album ”Made in Lagos” which was released in 2020 topped the Billboard World Album Chart.
Born David Adedeji Adeleke, Davido is a Nigerian-American singer, songwriter and record producer. He is known for his multiple hit songs and international endorsements. With millions of fans across the continent and beyond, Davido has been cited as one of Africa’s most influential musicians of his time in multiple reports.
In March 2022, Davido became the first Nigerian singer to be featured in a FIFA World Cup single after he appeared on “Hayya Hayya (Better Together)” alongside (Trinidad Cardona and AISHA), one of the songs of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ Official Soundtrack.
Burnaboy is another Nigerian singer and songwriter on the frontline of African Music. He is even often referred to as the ”African Giant”. He won the 2019 and 2020 BET Awards and was also nominated for the Grammy Awards in the same years.
Burnaboy’s full name is Damini Ebunoluwa Ogulu. He was born on July 2 1991 in Port-Harcourt, Rivers State. He is 31 years old as of 2022. He studied Media Technology at the University of Sussex before he proceeded to Oxford Brookes University to obtain a degree in Media Communications and Culture.
He started making music at the tender age of 10 and he started his career officially in 2010. Burna rose to prominence in 2012 after releasing the hit single ”Like To Party”. Some of his other songs include ”Gbona”, ”Kilometre”, ”Odogwu”, ”Wetin Man Go Do” and ”Last Last”.
10. Yemi Alade
Yemi Alade is another female Nigerian singer and entertainer that is doing Africa proud in the music sector. She is referred to as the ”Queen of Afropop”. She came into the music scene after winning the Nigerian music show ”Peak Talent Show”. She is reportedly the First African Female Artist to have a million subscribers on YouTube.
Yemi Alade was born on March 13 1989 in Abia State. She grew up in Lagos and she is 33 years old as of 2022. She obtained a degree in Geography from the University of Lagos. She came into the limelight after releasing the hit single ”Johnny” in 2013. She featured in Beyonce’s 2019 soundtrack album ”The Lion King: The Gift”.
She has won several awards and completed numerous musical world tours. Some of her notable songs include ”Kom Kom”, ” Kissing”, ”Charlie”, ”Rain”, and ”Single and Searching” amongst others.