The Nigerian music industry is home to lots of talents and though it is still largely dominated by men, there are a handful of female music talents creating great vibes and staking their claim as the best. Di’Ja, which is an acronym for Aphrodija, is one of such female talents making waves.
The singer, whose birth name is Hadiza Salma Blell, became popular following her signing to Mavin Records and her performance in the 2014 hit song “Dorobucci”. Her astounding voice and extreme beauty became instrumental in her quick rise to fame. Aside from her music career, Di’Ja is equally known for her talents as a songwriter, visual artist, humanitarian, and fashion designer.
Di’Ja Was Born To A Nigerian Mother and A Sierra Leonean Father
Born on the 14th of August 1989, Hadiza Salma Blell is the daughter of Asma’u Blell, a Kaduna State indigene who got married to a Sierra Leonean man. Di’Ja’s father, Amb. Joseph Blell, is notable for serving as Sierra Leone’s High Commissioner to Nigeria from 1993 to 2002; and as the country’s Deputy Minister of Defense from 2002 until 2007. Due to his work, Di’Ja did not grow up with her father. Instead, she was raised in her maternal home in Kaduna, where her life began.
While nothing much is known about the singer’s mother and the rest of her family members, we know that her father was the Team Manager of the National Football Team (Leone Stars) that qualified for the African Cup of Nations in 1994 (Tunisia). Before his appointment as a High Commissioner, he worked as the Regional Director of the Canadian University Service Overseas (CUSO) to Nigerians based in Kano and later Kaduna in Northern Nigeria.
It is not clear how many siblings Di’Ja has but we are aware of her brother and best friend who she grew up with. The music diva speaks of having a great and colorful childhood and owes her virtues to the upbringing she got from her parents. As for her educational background, the young singer completed her secondary school education in Kaduna before relocating to Canada for her university education. She eventually graduated with a joint degree in Biology and Psychology.
How Di’Ja Began Her Musical Journey
Di’ja’s passion for music had something to do with her parents’ collection of old CDs. After her graduation, she developed a keen interest in music, art, and philosophy which triggered her to delve into building a music career. Her professional music career started when a friend named Aman Manhas signed her up for a singing competition called the Beat Music Awards in Canada.
The competition, which happened in 2008, had the young singer participating alongside over 200 others. Her participation in the competition gave her the confidence she needed to take up and follow her music career with much more dedication. To crown it all, she won the Best New Artist award which was quite a boost to her career back then in Canada.
Having gained the exposure she needed, Di’ja was able to release her very first single titled ‘Rock steady’, in 2009. Luckily, it was nominated for the Best Urban/R&B Single at the 2009 Canadian Radio Music Awards. In 2012, she released several singles, including “Dan’Iska (Rudebwoy)”, “Hold On (Ba Damuwa)” and “How Can We Be Friends”. She was in Canada when she released these songs, and the tracks showed her talent to the fans she had then.
She Achieved Fame After Signing To Mavin Records
Through her manager, Di’ja was able to meet Don Jazzy. She says she didn’t expect to meet the Nigerian maestro producer as he walked into the studio when she was playing her songs for some of the guys around. To her amazement, Don Jazzy ended up falling in love with two of the songs she played and opted to take her as an understudy.
For about eight months, Di’ja was technically in the pipeline for consideration to become a member of Mavin Records. She was introduced to the rest of the members of his label which included Tiwa Savage, Dr. Sid, and D’Prince. The group worked and created songs together to see the chemistry between them. After a while, Don Jazzy confirmed that he had signed her to his label.
Di’ja’s first official single under Mavin was immediately released. The song, which is titled “Yaro”, is an up-tempo celebration of love and commitment against all odds. It infuses Hausa and Krio dialects in honor of her Nigerian and Sierra Leonean roots.
Di’Ja’s music can be described as Pop & Reggae-infused R&B. On the day she was officially signed to Mavin, Don Jazzy described her as one who is a representative of the new generation Nigerian musician and that her versatility and adaptability make her an interesting individual and fun to be with.
In May 2014, Di’Ja was featured on “Dorobucci” alongside label mates Don Jazzy, Dr. Sid, Tiwa Savage, D’Prince, Korede Bello, and Reekado Banks. As of 21 July 2014, “Dorobucci” has received over 42 million views on YouTube. The hit song could be said to have helped to bring Di’Ja further to the limelight.
Di’Ja Made Her Biggest Hits in 2014
2014 was indeed a huge year for young Di’Ja whose dream of being a music star was already coming to reality in such a short time thanks to her signing to Mavin Records. Amidst the very busy year activities, she was able to round up the year with her biggest hit single titled “Aww”. The song, which was released in December 2014, was widely accepted by a lot of hip-hop fans in Nigeria and Africa. The single topped so many charts and helped increase her fan base. The video further gained a lot of views on YouTube to such an extent that it was considered among the top hit singles of 2015.
Di’Ja has since then embarked on many tours. On December 15, 2017, she released her extended play titled Aphrodija. The 7-track project featured guest vocals from Tiwa Savage and Reekado Banks. Although it is her first body of work since joining the Mavin team, the project still made hits beyond her imagination. In 2019, she returned with a new 4-track extended play (EP) tagged D’ja EP. Today, thanks to her passion and love for the arts, she is listed as one of the greatest female singers of our time.
List of Her Songs:
- Rock Steady – 2008
- How can we be friends – 2012
- Dan’Isaka(Rudebwoy) – 2012
- Hold on (Ba Damuwa) – 2013
- Yaro – 2013
- Dorobucci – 2013
- Awww – 2014
- Adaobi – 2014
- Looku Looku – 2015
- Take kiss – 2016
- Sowemo – 2016
- Falling for you – 2016
- Air – 2017
- Omotena – 2019
- Wuta – 2019
- Baby – 2019
- Teamo – 2019
Her Awards and Endorsements
Di’Ja has been nominated for a couple of awards and has succeeded in winning some. She won the 2008 Beat Music Awards under the Best New Artist category. The same year, she was nominated for Canadian Music Radio awards for Best Urban R&B single for her song “Rock Steady”. Meanwhile, her latest nomination for an award was in 2014 when she was nominated as the Most Promising Act to watch at the Nigerian Entertainment Awards. She, however, lost it to the English-born Nigerian singer and songwriter, Ayoola Ogundeyi Jr., better known as Ayo Jay.