Nigeria is a nation filled with talented artistes, young and old; male and female. Generally people feel good after accomplishing a feat and it’s acknowledged. Most times, artists do not know their worth and many times are very skeptical about how good they are until they start gaining recognition — this gives them some sort of confidence that they are doing well, based on people’s reaction. This is why many celebrities are usually unapologetically excited when their fans acknowledge their hard work or in another case, they get heartbroken when fans give them a bad review for instance, on a song or movie. Little to big gestures help to boost the confidence of artists, from a simple comment under a post or video, to their music videos trending on social media platforms, to billboard ratings, to fans turning up at the cinema in large numbers to see movies, to buying out their movie or music tickets, to awards being bestowed. These and many more are the reasons why artists keep striving, trying to do extra to keep their fans and themselves happy.
I’ll focus on one major achievement of musical acts – award. These awards, home and abroad are more recognized than the other, and the higher you go, the greater the award. Despite having many prominent artistes in Nigeria, there are a good number of them who have sadly never been nominated for a Grammy award, let alone winning. Winning a Grammy award is a big deal to musicians as it is an international award presented by the US Recording Academy to recognize Outstanding Achievement in the music industry.
Here is a list of 10 out of many promising musical artistes in Nigeria in no particular order.
1. Tiwa savage
Tiwa Savage is a Nigerian singer, songwriter and actress. Born in Isale Eko, she relocated to London at the age of 11 for her secondary education. Five years later, she began her music career doing backup vocals for artists such as George Michael, Beyonce and Mary J. Blige. Tiwa is rated number 4, most followed African celebrity on Instagram. After participating in the UK edition of The X Factor and graduating from Berklee College of Music, Tiwa signed a publishing deal with Sony/ATV Music Publishing in 2009. Inspired by the growth of the Nigerian music industry Tiwa moved back to Nigeria and signed with Don Jazzy’s Mavin Records in 2012.
In May 2019, she announced her record deal with Universal Music Group and exit from Mavin Records. In 2014, Tiwa Savage was the first female Nigerian artiste to be nominated for BET awards. She knows how to make her music resonate with many Nigerians. Her 2017 hit song, All Over has over 56 million views on YouTube alone. She released her latest EP (album) titled Water and Garri on August 20,2021. This beautiful award winning super star has over 71 nominations and 21 awards; some of which are:
Once Upon a Time was nominated for Best Album of the Year at the 2014 Nigeria Entertainment Awards and for Best R&B/Pop Album at The Headies 2014 (her debut studio album)
1 MTV Europe Award
3 AFRIMA Awards as Best Female West Africa 2017, 2019
1 Soundcity MVP Award for African Video of the Year for 49-99
2 Headies Awards in 2012 and 2014 amongst others.
Every artist dreams of their work reaching a vast number of people and making an impact. The question is what is more impactful than being nominated and winning the highly desired Grammy awards? Being nominated for a Grammy not only proves that your music is great, but also that you have gained international recognition and despite Tiwa Savage’s vast growth in the music industry home and abroad, she has not been nominated for a Grammy Award.
Innocent Ujah Idibia, known by his stage name 2Baba, is a Nigerian musician, singer, songwriter, record producer, entrepreneur, philanthropist, humanitarian, and activist. 2Baba is a notable music legend that has been prominent since 1994 and he is the founder of Hypertek Entertainment, a record label. 2Baba drops hits that contemporary Nigerians can relate to and knows how to flow with both the old and young.
Recall, prior to July 2014, he went by the stage name 2face Idibia/ Tuface. In 2016, he officially changed his name from Tuface to 2Baba. Due to his musical prowess, he has received many awards both national and international but he has never been nominated for a Grammy award which is quite saddening since he is magnificent at what he does. You might not know but 2Baba is the first winner of MTV Europe, Best African Act Award in 2015. He has received:
1 World Music Award
5 Headies Awards (Hip-Hop award)
4 Channel O Music Video Awards
1 BET Award
4 MTV Africa Music Awards
1 MOBO Award
1 KORA Award
3 Afrima Awards and numerous additional nominations.
Bukola Elemide, professionally known as Asa, is a Nigerian, French- born singer, songwriter, and recording artist and this post will be incomplete without her name on this list. Asa is one of the most underrated musical acts in the field. This top-notch songstress know a her onions a little too well. She has an undeniable unique voice and is a legendary singer both in Nigeria and Africa. Asa songs still continues to entertain us even in 2022 and she is not done. In similarity with Simi, her singing style touches the soul, it speaks to the listener. She sings relatable music, with good flow.
Asa spent about 18 years in Lagos before returning to France (Paris) where her career took off. She studied at the IMFP school of Jazz music. Asa was so exceptional as a female artiste, that she was told by teachers to go ahead and become a recording artist because she was ready and needed no schooling! Pure talent!. Asa released her debut Album Asa in 2007 and received the Prix Constantin Award a year later, following her nomination by French music awards for the female artist of the year in 2011. It was reported that by 2014 Asa sold 400,000 albums worldwide. Two of her albums, Asa (2007) and Beautiful Imperfection (2010) ranked 3rd in the world in the billboard charts.
Although, like popular American singer, Adele it seems the remarkable songstress always takes her time to work on these songs judging by the fact that her average release time for each album takes about 3-4 years. Her latest album released 2019 is titled Lucid, fingers crossed, maybe another one will be dropped this year in 2022.
David Adedeji Adeleke, popularly known as Davido, is a Nigerian , American-born singer, songwriter, and record producer. Davido blends traditional African elements with global mainstream pop. Davido rated number 1 on the current richest Nigerian musicians in 2021 according to Forbes magazine. He also featured on Forbes list of top 10 richest musicians in Africa 2021 and is an international act. For the fourth year in a roll, the DMW record label boss, Davido, has remained the most followed Nigerian celebrity in the country and 2nd most followed artiste in Africa on Instagram with a followership base of 22.6 million.
Davido is known to effortlessly release hit songs back-to-back. No one knows how he does it but he does make it look effortless. OBO as he likes to be called, has a lot of edge over many musical acts but despite that, he is yet to be nominated for a Grammy award let alone win one.
Davido became a big name in the music industry in 2010. He has received;
1 Ghana Music Award
2 Nigeria Entertainment Awards
1 Channel O Music Video Award
1 City People Entertainment Award
1 KORA Award
2 MTV Africa Music Awards
2 MTV Europe Music Awards amongst others; with over 60 nominations as well. Recall in 2020, Grammy had in a tweet applauded Davido for expanding Afrobeats reach but still, no Grammy!
5. Yemi Alade
Yemi Eberechi Alade, is a Nigerian Afropop singer, songwriter, actress and activist. She won the Peak Talent Show in 2009 after which she signed to Effyzzie Music Group, and had her biggest hit with her single Johnny in 2014. Yemi Alade was the first Nigerian female artist to hit 1.62M (currently 1.93) subscribers and 141 million views on YouTube on her aforementioned hit, Johnny.
The beautiful and talented lady who is popular both home and abroad for her voluminous hair style, good music, reverberating dance moves and Ankara fabric wears is the 3rd most followed artiste in Africa on Instagram and one of the richest female musicians in the country.
She has won about 15 awards ranging from 4 Headies awards, 1 Independent music award, 2 MTV Africa music awards, 3 AFRIMMA/AFRIMA awards amongst other and over 45 nominations.
Oladapo Daniel Oyebanjo, better known by his stage name D’banj, is a Nigerian singer, rapper, businessman and the founder of defunct Mo’ Hits Records with producer Don Jazzy. D’Banj who was born and raised in Zaria, came to prominence following the release of his debut album Long Thing (2005). He won the Best Newcomer award at the 2006 Channel O music Award for Tongolo, a song off his aforementioned album. In 2005, D’banj won the Most Promising Male Artist award at the 2005 Kora Awards. He has won 29 awards; with 6 of them being Channel O music Awards, 4 Headies, and 4 MTV Africa music awards amongst others with 87 nominations.
D’banj is best known internationally for his 2012 summer hit Oliver Twist, an uptempo dance music that topped the African charts in 2011 and was a top 10 hit in the UK singles chart in 2012 reaching No. 2 on the UK R&B chart.
Dbanj is a successful musician who has recorded many wins; he featured Kanye West on his song Oliver Twist and recorded huge successes. Yet, till today the Koko master has not won any Grammy award.
7. M.I Abaga
Jude Lemfani Abaga, better known as M.I Abaga, is a Nigerian rapper and record producer. Africa’s most decorated hip hop rapper M.I Abaga is a talented individual. He is among the pioneers of Nigerian Hip-hop music. He rose to prominence in 2006 when his song Crowd Mentality became popular.
The rapper was Chocolate city CEO from 2015 to 2019. In March 2020, he announced his exit from the label and launched his own record label Incredible Music. The fact is that M.I is more than a rapper with 4 ‘successful’ studio albums and 6 E.Ps throughout his career — a feat very few musicians can boast of.
M.I has won numerous awards ranging from 3 Headies Awards, 3 Hip-Hop world Awards, the prestigious BET Awards and many more. Despite his seemingly unattainable feat, M.I has never been nominated nor won a Grammy award.
Simisola Bolatito Kosoko, better known by her stage name Simi, is a Nigerian singer, songwriter and actress. They say good music calms the soul, and that is exactly what Simi’s music does. Her major hit Duduke had over 30 million views on YouTube alone. Simi is also known for her hit songs Soldier and Jamb Question both featuring Nigerian singer, actor, comedian and rapper, Falz.
This fabulous singer and captivating performer has a subtle voice which usually lingers in the head of listeners long after the sound has ended. Simi got her major breakthrough in the mainstream music industry in 2014 after she released Tiff and the song was nominated in two categories at The Headies 2015. She has since gotten about 10 Headies awards altogether, with a total of 33 awards and about 50 nominations, Simi launched her record label Studio Brat in June 2019.
As one of the few women who have carved a niche for themselves in the music industry with many hot songs and awards clinched, Simi has never been nominated for a Grammy award. Simi and D’Banj were today unveiled as new judges of Nigerian Idol.
9. Olamide Baddo
Olamide Gbenga Adedeji also known as Olamide Baddo is a Nigerian hip hop recording artist, musician and rapper. He records in Yoruba and English. Olamide started his career when he released the debut hit single, Eni Duro in 2010. That song made people listen, it opened doors for him in more ways than one. In the same year, Olamide performed at The Hip Hop World Awards — a rare opportunity for an up-and-coming artiste.
In 2011, Olamide released his debut studio album Rapsodi while signed to Coded Tunes. YBNL, his follow-up album, was released under his label imprint YBNL Nation. The album was supported by the singles First of All, Voice of the Street, Stupid Love and Ilefo Illuminati. On 7 November 2013, he released his third studio album Baddest Guy Ever Liveth. The album’s singles include Durosoke and Yemi My Lover. All aforementioned singles from his album were hits, back-to-back. Olamide brought a new kind of vibe to Rap. He understood the assignment and gets it’s done easily. With over 30 awards bagged and 70 nominations, this talented rapper with 12 albums is yet to clinch a Grammy nomination.
Olamide’s 11th album, Carpe Diem (October 2020), according to the Olamide Music Chart on Twitter, the album surpassed the 500Million streams mark on the 1st of June 2021. His latest album, UY Scuti (2021), was nominated in the African Entertainment Awards USA(2021) under Album of the year category
10. Don Jazzy
Michael Collins Ajereh, widely known as Don Jazzy, is a Nigerian record producer, Brand Ambassador, audio engineer, record executive, singer, entrepreneur, influencer and comedian. He is the founder and the CEO of Mavin Records.
Don Jazzy was co-owner of the defunct Mo’ Hits Records record label with Dbanj. He rated number 3 on the Forbes richest Nigerian musicians in 2021. This talented individual who is always in high spirits and has a good eye for picking young talents has never been nominated for a Grammy award. Don Jazzy is arguably Nigeria’s number 1 record producer. He is an embodiment of talent.
In 2006 at the Nigerian Music Awards he won Producer of the Year.
In 2007, Nigerian Entertainment Award he won Music Producer of the Year.
In 2011, The Headies Award, Don Jazzy won Producer of the Year for Over The Moon, Mr Endowed and Pop Something.
In 2014, The Headies Award, he bagged Producer of the Year Award for Dorobucci.
In 2015, City People Entertainment Award, he received Special Recognition Award.
In 2019, The Beatz Award TM, he received the New Discovery Producer Award.