Music in Africa is the core entertainment hub as African musicians have gone beyond entertaining just Africans but the world at large.
Several African musicians are well-known internationally because of their huge talents, unique sound and versatility in infusing the afro-sound into the modern-day western music.
Across Africa…East, West, and South, here is a list of the most successful African musicians.
15. Oumou Sangare [Malian]
Born: February 1968
Oumou Sangaré is a Grammy Award-winning Malian Wassoulou musician, sometimes referred to as “The Songbird of Wassoulou”.
Sangaré’s first album, Moussoulou meaning “Women” sold more than 200,000 copies sold and at the age of 21, she was already a star.
Her songs are usually focused on love and marriage, especially freedom of choice in marriage. In 2003, she was named an ambassador of the FAO and won the UNESCO Prize in 2001.
14. Diamond Platnumz [Tanzanian]
Born: October 1989
The Tanzanian Bongo Flava recording artist and dancer is best known for his hit song “Number One” which he featured Nigerian artiste, Davido.
In so short a time after hit limelight, Diamond has won numerous awards including a Channel O and the HiPipo Music Awards.
Diamond is considered influential among his fans and is said to be the most loved and celebrated Tanzanian artist at the moment.
He is also the highest selling Tanzanian artist of ringtones by mobile phone companies as of 2013 and among the highest income earning artists in the African Great Lakes region’s music industry.
13. Wizkid [Nigerian]
Born: July 1990
2016 was the best year in the career of Wizkid as he recorded the most relevant achievements. From being an artist signed under Banky W’s EME Records to owing his Star Boy Records, Wizkid has grown to become the rave of the African music industry.
In 2016, he became the first to hit the Billboard Chart with his collaborations with Drake. He was nominated for the prestigious 2017 Grammy Awards, thanks to his contributions to Drake’s One Dance project.
Having done some major synergizing with top artists like Chris Brown, Tinie Tempah, and Akon, Wizkid has earned for himself the title of one of the most celebrated acts in Africa.
12. Salif Keita [Malian]
Born: August 1949
An offspring of Sundiata Keita, the founding father of the Mali Empire, Salif Keita is one of the founders of Afro-pop in Africa. He was widely criticized when he decided to become a musician as it was regarded an occupation not befitting for a Prince.
Salif was ex-communicated from his family at the age of 18, due to the superstitious belief that albinos were symbolic of misfortune. However, he went on to play for a Malian Musical group known as ‘Les Ambassadeurs’ prior to going solo and ever since his career has known nothing but mind-blowing success.
11. Youssou N’dour [Senegalese]
Born: October 1959
N’dour is argued to be the most thrilling and fascinating African musician. His contribution in making the Mbalax popular cannot be undermined.
He is a UNICEF ambassador and has been outspoken in his campaign to put an end to the humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa. The Grammy-Award winner is also a businessman, owner of a nightclub, a television station as well as a record label.
10. Onyeka Onwenu [Nigerian]
Born: January 1952
Onyeka Owenu blew the hearts and minds of Africans in the early 80s when she started her music career while still working with the NTA as a broadcaster.
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 most popular songs are Iyogogo, Kosi, Oh Woman and more.
9. Angélique Kidjo [Beninese]
Born: July 1960
Grammy Award-winning Beninoise musician, Angelique Kidjo remains one of Africa’s most celebrated singer till date.
The UNICEF Goodwill ambassador is also the pioneer of a Washington-based charity known as Batonga Foundation which fosters and funds the education of African girls.
She is a zealous advocate for the rights of African women as well as a fantastic vocalist.
8. King Sunny Ade [Nigerian]
Born: September 1946
The King of Afro Juju music, Sunny Ade is one of the longest reigning Nigerian musicians. At age 70, he still performs regularly in shows and is among the highest paid in the country.
Sunny Adé’s music is characterized by in-depth skill on the talking drum, the guitar [which he plays very well] and his peculiar application to jùjú music – a feature that distinguishes him from other African musicians in the same genre.
7. Khaled [Algerian]
Born: February 1960
Khaled Hadj Ibrahim famously known as ‘Khaled’ is the most popular ‘rai’ singer worldwide. Rai is a type of folk music which merges French, Arabic, Spanish and African musical.
Khaled is more popular in France with his singles ‘Didi’ and ‘Aicha’ topping the charts. Reported to have sold over 20 million albums, he remains one of Africa’s bestselling artist of all times.
6. Awilo Longomba [Congolese]
Born: May 1962
The music of Awilo Longomba spread beyond the Congo with his Makossa sound which rocked the African music scene in the 90s.
In 1995, he quit drumming for singing and released his first album Moto Pamba with help from Shimita, Ballou Canta, Dindo Yogo, Dally Kimoko, Sam Mangwana, Syran Mbenza and Rigo Star. Although his music career his is currently on the low, his songs are still relevant till date.
Although his active music career is currently on the low, his songs are still relevant till date.
5. Femi Kuti [Nigerian]
Born: June 1962
Just like his father, Fela, Femi Kuti is a phenomenal afro-musician, who uses his music to fight against social vices such as poverty, corruption and other socio-economic matters that are prevailing in Nigeria in particular and Africa as a whole.
His album ‘Fight to Win’ in which he collaborated with American artists Mos Def, Common and Jaguar Fight is viewed as the most prominent Neo-Afrobeat of the 21st century.
4. Fally Ipupa [Congolese]
Born: December 1977
Fally Ipupa was part of Koffi Olomidé’s music band before he decided to pursue his solo career. The Congolese singer and songwriter released his first album ‘Droit Chemin’ in 2006, which made huge sales of over 100,000 units.
3. Manu Dibango [Cameroonian]
Born: December 1933
Cameroonian-born Manu Dibango is one of Africa’s multi-talented musicians. He is an excellent saxophonist and is most known for his 1972 single “Soul Makossa.” His music genre ranges from reggae, soul, blues, spirituals, electro to soul.
2. Koffi Olomidé [Congolese]
Born: July 1956
Best known as a Soukous musician, Koffi Olomide is a first-degree holder in Business Economics, who also has a Masters degree in mathematics from the University of Paris.
During the course of his active career life, Koffi released over 30 albums which have sold millions of copies worldwide.
1. Tubaba [Nigerian]
Born: September 1975
First known as Tuface Idibia before he adopted the name Tubaba, the iconic Nigerian musician was a member of the defunct all-guys group Plantashun Boiz.
His music is timeless, mature and easy to relate to. Tubaba speaks reality in his songs and is best known for his hit single “African Queen” whose video he featured his wife, Annie Idibia.
In 2014, he released his most recent and sixth studio album, The Ascension, under his self-owned label Hypertek Digital and 960 Music Group.
No doubt, Tubaba is not just the number one among the most celebrated African Musicians, he will remain relevant and will be celebrated in decades to come.