Popularly known by his stage name Iyanya, Iyanya Onoyom Mbok is a renowned Nigerian recording artist and performer who is mostly remembered for his performance at the 2008 MTN Project Fame West Africa where he walked away as the winner and also for his most popular song ‘Kukere’.
The Nigerian artist was born on October 31 1986 on Palm Street in the city of Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria where he completed his primary, secondary and tertiary education.
His mother was a head mistress while his father was a forester. According to Iyanya, his mother was more active than his father when it came to disciplinary matters around the home.
Tragedy came knocking in 2008 when Iyanya lost both parents, his mother, 42 years old, and his father, 50 years old. As if that was not enough, his elder brother also died around the same time of his parents’ death.
Iyanya’s grandfather was a clergyman in a church that has a choir where he used to sing and was also the choir master for the children section at the tender age of 5.
He graduated from the University of Calabar, majoring in Business Management.
After bagging a degree from the University of Calabar, he sang Karaoke at a local bar he managed while working in a hotel. Local bars like Fiesta Fries Bar, Mirage Nite Club, and West-Life played a great role in developing Iyanya’s vocal abilities.
His hunger for professional music career was heightened after watching the celebrity lifestyle of 2 Face Idibia and Olu Maintain.
The ‘Kukere Master’ officially came to the limelight when he won the 2008 MTN Project Fame West Africa and was later parachuted to great fame with the release of his most popular song ‘Kukere’.
The singing competition marked the beginning of his music career which he worked very hard to build.
After winning MTN’s very first Project Fame which KCee from Kcee Fresh group convinced him to participate in, Iyanya did not relax as he began recording his debut album My Story released under CN Media Imprint in 2011. A self-titled track ‘Iyanya’ and Love Trully’ in his first album showed Iyanya’s versatility as an R&B artist.
Sadly, Iyanya’s debut album was a failure due to problems he encountered with distribution and promotion.
Nevertheless, Iyanya went on to work on his second studio album ‘Desire’ which was made up of singles ‘Kukere’, ‘Ur Waist’, ‘Flavour’, ‘Sexy Mama’ and ‘Jombolo’. His inspiration for ‘Kukere’ came from the native dance of Calabar where he grew up called ‘Etighi’.
He is the co-owner of Made Men Music Group, a record label home to artists such as Tekno, Selebobo and Baci. Iyanya sings in English and Efik.
On 16 October 2013, it was reported by 360nobs that Iyanya became the new ambassador for Solo Phones Nigeria, a mobile phone company at Computer Village, ikeja. The deal which lasted for one year allegedly fetched the artist $220,000 (35 million naira).
Soon after, Daily Independent reported that Iyanya also signed a one-year deal worth $300,000 with Zinox Computers (Nigeria’s first certified branded computers). The deal featured Iyanya on Zinox billboards and TV commercials.
He has won two The Headies awards – Artist of the Year 2013, Best Pop Single 2012, One Nigeria Entertainment Award- Hottest Single of the Year 2013 and one African Muzik Magazine Awards- Best Dance in a Video 2014. He has also been nominated for several other awards especially for his ‘Iyanya Kukere’.