Tiwa Savage is one of Nigeria’s most popular and richest female musicians. It is no surprise that the 42 year old Yoruba beauty is one of the first names on the lips of people when asked about female Nigerian musicians as her naturally gifted talent has made her a favorite of many. Songs like “Kele Kele Love”, “Love Me (3x)”, “Eminado”, “Lova Lova”, “Koroba”, and “Somebody’s Son” has made her a force to reckon with.
In addition to her singing, Tiwa is a whole lot of other things. She is a songwriter, actress, and businesswoman. Previously known as the first lady of the Don-Jazzy-owned Mavin Records, she is the co-owner of 323 Entertainment, an outfit she established with her ex-husband/former manager.
Tiwa Savage Was Born 42 Years Ago In Lagos State, Nigeria
Tiwa was born Tiwatope Savage on the 5th of February, 1980 in Isale Eko, Lagos State, Nigeria. She was born into an upper-middle-class family of Yoruba heritage. Tiwa’s parents, her father Alhaji Savage and her mother Cecilia Savage, are reportedly from Isale Eko which is the principal and central-local government area in Lagos, Lagos State. She is their last child and has two siblings named Wale and Shola Savage.
Tiwa began her basic education in Lagos State. When she was eleven years old, she relocated with her parents to the United Kingdom where she continued her education, earning a degree in accounting from the University of Kent. Shortly after graduating, she worked briefly at The Royal Bank of Scotland before leaving to focus on her music career.
Tiwa Savage Officially Began Singing At The Age of 16
Tiwa was always fond of anything music-related. Even as a child, she nursed a strong passion for singing and so while she was attending secondary school at Claremont High, London, she played the trombone for her school’s orchestra band. Being a member of her high school band helped her to realize her call to be a singer. Although Tiwa no longer plays the trombone, the musical instrument really played a key role in her decision to pick up music in the place of her banking career.
Happy with her newly-discovered talent, young Tiwa wanted the world to hear her sing so she moved around clubs and sort for talent shows around London, where she started singing. It was at one of these local talent shows that she met Laurence Johnson, owner of Tuff Sessions, a company that hired backup singers. After a brief audition, she was officially signed to Tuff Sessions with Johnson as her manager.
By the time she turned 16, Tiwa Savage had begun lending backup vocals to the songs of mainstream artists like Mary J. Blige, Chaka Khan, Blu Cantrell, Emma Bunton, Kelly Clarkson, Andrea Bocelli, and Ms. Dynamite among others. Furthermore, she got to perform on stage with acts like Sting, 50 Cent, The Black Eyed Peas, Eminem, Robbie Williams, and Destiny’s Child to name a few.
She Bagged A Degree In Music At 27
Not wanting to continue as a backup singer, Tiwa returned to school to study music. She enrolled at Berklee College of Music and graduated with a degree in professional music. The aspiring singer focused on the business of music, songwriting, and music production. In 2006, while still studying at Berklee, Savage participated in UK’s X-Factor and made it to the final 24. She was however the 12th person to be evicted.
Shortly after obtaining her degree in music, Tiwa Savage moved to New York to properly focus on her singing career. In 2009, Sony/ATV Music Publishing signed her to a music deal. The deal solidified her to write for Babyface, Kat Deluna, Fantasia Barrino, Monica, and Mýa, among others. Fantasia’s song, “Collard Greens and Cornbread”, credits Tiwa Savage as a writer. The song was nominated for a Grammy.
Tiwa Savage Made Her Music Debut In Nigeria In 2010
Following her desire to infuse afro-pop into her music, Tiwa returned to her home country. Prior to her return, she had already written the song “Kele Kele Love” which was produced by H-Money. The song turned out to be her first big hit, winning the award for Best R&B Soul Song at the 2011 Afrotainment Museke Online Music Awards and earning a nomination for the Next Rated award at The Headies 2011.
In 2011, Savage became more popular after co-hosting the second season of Nigerian Idol alongside IllRymz. Soon after that, she burst onto the booming African music scene with other songs like “Love Me”, “Ife Wa Gbona,” and “Without My Heart” that quickly captured the public’s imagination in a manner not quite unseen before.
Tiwa Savage’s sultry tones, pulsating dance moves, and electric stage presence immensely propelled her to the top of the Nigerian music industry.
She Joined Mavin Records in 2012 and Released Her Debut Album in 2013
2012 was yet another remarkable year for Tiwa Savage as she got signed to Don Jazzy’s Mavin Records and was one of the lead acts on the label’s compilation album, Solar Plexus (2012). The same year, she was featured on singer Flavour N’abania‘s remix of “Oyi”. She rounded the year up by collaborating with the likes of Waje, Timi Dakolo, Praiz, and Pamela Egoh on the Ovation Red Carol theme song “Higher”.
After years of thrilling fans with her rare music talents, Tiwa Savage officially released her debut album titled Once Upon A Time in mid-2013. The album, which she started recording in 2010, featured artists like Sarkodie, Iceberg Slim, and General Pype. Including the aforementioned released songs, others to have made the album include “Folarin”, “Olorun Mi”, “Eminado”, and “Middle Passage”.
The success of the album led to its nomination for Best Album of the Year at the 2014 Nigeria Entertainment Awards, and for Best R&B/Pop Album at The Headies 2014.
Tiwa Released Her Second and Third Albums Under Mavin Records
2014 was a productive year for the songstress and the entire members of Mavin Records. The label’s single titled “Dorobucci” was released that year and it became a big hit in Nigeria and many parts of Africa. Even Tiwa started the year on a high note, releasing “Love in Yellow”, a promotional song for Valentine’s Day, and featuring on the remix of Patoranking’s “Girlie O”.
In 2015, she released her second album titled R.E.D. – an acronym for the words Romance, Expression, and Dance. Tiwa featured lots of artists such as Don Jazzy, 2Face, D’Prince, Dr. SID, Iceberg Slim, Reekado Banks, and Olamide. The album was produced by Don Jazzy, and as expected, it was warmly accepted by her fans. It was even nominated for Best Album at the 2016 Nigeria Entertainment Awards.
Tiwa Savage enjoyed her most successful year yet in 2018. The year saw her get crowned the Best African Act at the MTV European Music Awards. Thus, she made history as the first female to win the accolade. In the same year, she also became the first African female to sell out London’s IndigO2.
How Tiwa Savage Went From Local To International Star
More determined to further give her songs a voice in the world music market, Tiwa decided to agree to deals with much bigger record labels. In June 2016, the songstress signed a management and publishing deal with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation which has other stars like DJ Khaled, Kanye West, Rihanna, Vic Mensa, Willow Smith, Meek Mill, Shakira, Big Sean, Angie Martinez, and J. Cole signed to it. Tiwa Savage’s deal with the New York-based entertainment company was a huge plus for her as she became the first Nigerian artist to be signed to the label.
More exciting news about the ‘Love Me’ crooner continued to fill the air thanks to her determination to break more grounds. When her contract with Mavin Records ended in 2019, she immediately signed an exclusive global recording deal with Universal Music Group. Signing with the Dutch–American multinational music corporation means any of her songs produced by the label will be released internationally through UMG’s operations in more than 60 countries worldwide.
By July the same year, she was already featured on”Keys to the Kingdom”, a track she co-wrote for Beyoncé’s soundtrack album The Lion King: The Gift. So far, Tiwa Savage has three studio albums, two extended plays, and one compilation album.
Achievements and Awards
In a short span of years, the superstar singer has achieved a lot through determination and hard work. Any true music lover sure knows that Tiwa Savage is highly talented in making songs and certainly one of the best female musicians in Nigeria.
The talented singer-songwriter has won many awards. As earlier mentioned, she became the first female artist to win the ‘Best African Act’ award after she was declared the winner of the Best African Act award at the MTV European Music Awards in 2018. Other awards she has won include:
- Dynamix All Youth Awards for ‘Most Promising Act’ (2011)
- FAB Magazine Awards for ‘ Most Stylish Female Artiste’ (2011)
- Afrotainment Museke Online Music Awards for Best R&B Soul Song (2011);
- Channel O’ Music Video Award of the Most Gifted Female (2012),
- The Headies’ Best Vocal Performance (Female) (2012)
- Nigeria Music Video Awards (NMVA) for ‘Best Highlife’ (2012)
- MTV Africa Music Awards for ‘Best Female’ (2014)
- City People Entertainment Awards for ‘Musician of The Year (Female)’ (2014);
- African Muzik Magazine Awards for ‘Best Female West Africa’ (2014);
- 2014 Nigeria Entertainment Awards for ‘Best Pop/R&B Artist of the Year’; and ‘Female Artist of the Year’ (2014)
- 2014 Channel O Music Video Awards for ‘Most Gifted Female’
- The Headies 2014 for ‘Best Reggae/Dancehall Single’
- 2015 COSON Song Awards for ‘Best Collabo Song’ (2014)
- 2017 AFRIMA for ‘Best Female West Africa’
- 2018 MTV Europe Music Awards for ‘Best African Act’
- 2019 AFRIMA for ‘Best Female West Africa’
Tiwa Savage’s Success Compared To Other Female Nigerian Musicians
Female artists in the Nigerian music industry are doing amazingly well, proving their worth and amassing various groundbreaking records in Africa. This is evident in the global recognitions some of the few but sophisticated Nigerian female musicians have gotten over time. Tiwa Savage may have broken several grounds in the music industry but there are a few more female artists who have equally achieved musical success in their own capacity. We have the likes of Yemi Alade, Teni, Seyi Shay, Simi, and of course, Waje who have taken their musical talents across the African borders. However, it is safe to say that when it comes to musical achievements, none of Tiwa’s contemporaries has achieved as much as she has.
Acclaimed singer-songwriter Tiwa Savage is one of Africa’s biggest stars. With her experience in music writing, Tiwa navigated the Nigerian music industry with much ease. Tiwa Savage is among the very few Nigerian artists whose videos are grossing over 1 million views on YouTube. She currently has about ten videos with more than a million views each.
Her music style, professionalism, and relatable lyrics have won her fans and accolades globally. While she is largely rated as the best female artist in Nigeria, her musical talent and resilience hs earned her a notable position among Africa’s best musicians.