Nigerian music, with its rich tapestry of sounds and styles, has long held a significant place in the global music scene. From the bustling streets of Lagos, it has permeated the field of African pop, innovatively blending traditional rhythms with modern elements.
This musical grandeur has birthed a diverse array of talents who have helped shape and redefine the landscape of music, not just in Africa but around the world.
As we journey through the captivating world of Nigerian music, we’ll discover 15 of the greatest Nigerian singers of all time. Read on to unfold the legacy of these remarkable artists.
Born in Nigeria to a Nigerian father and English mother, Helen Folasade Adu, better known as Sade Adu, has graced the international music scene with her timeless sound.
Initially studying fashion design in London, she found herself immersed in the city’s vibrant music scene. It was here that she began singing backup for a band called Pride, where her smooth and sultry voice quickly caught attention.
Her distinct blend of soul, jazz, and soft rock led to the formation of the band Sade in 1983. They have since released many critically acclaimed albums and singles. Most notable is Diamond Life, in 1984. It featured the hits “Smooth Operator” and “Your Love Is King.”
In addition to her music, Sade is also recognized for her timeless and elegant sense of style. With her signature slicked-back hair and large hoop earrings, she has become an icon in both music and fashion.
One of the brightest stars in Nigeria’s music scene is Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun, known best as Wizkid. Born and raised in Surulere, Lagos, he started his musical journey at the young age of 11.
His unique fusion of Afrobeats and R&B has not only charmed audiences in Nigeria but has also made waves internationally.
Collaborations with world-renowned artists like Drake, Justin Bieber, and Beyonce, among many others, resulted in many Platinum hits, like “Come Closer” and “Essence.” This further solidified his position as a leading figure in the music industry.
Over the years, Wizkid’s hard work and dedication to his craft have won him numerous accolades. These include the coveted Grammy Award for Best Music Video (“Brown Skin Girl”).
3. Burna Boy
Our next singer on the list is known for his unique fusion of dancehall, reggae, Afrobeat, and pop. Singer-songwriter and record producer Burna Boy has become one of Nigeria’s most celebrated stars.
One of his early hits that put him on the map was the 2012 single “Like to Party.” This track, with its infectious rhythm and catchy lyrics, quickly became a favorite among fans.
Since then, Burna Boy has released several hit songs, including the Grammy-nominated “Last Last,” each showcasing his ability to blend different music styles seamlessly.
Burna Boy’s latest album, titled I Told Them…, is currently making waves, much to the delight of his fans. As Burna Boy continues to evolve as an artist, fans can look forward to more innovative music from this talented Nigerian star.
4. Yemi Alade
Abia State native Yemi Alade, known for her Afropop sound and energetic performances, gained entry into the Nigerian music scene in 2009 when she won the Peak Talent Show.
In 2014, she released her hit single “Johnny,” which became a massive success both in Nigeria and internationally. The song topped the charts in several African countries. It has over 100 million views on YouTube, making it one of the most viewed African music videos on the platform.
Following the success of “Johnny,” Alade released her debut album, King of Queens, in the same year. The album was well-received and included other hit songs such as “Tangerine” and “Kissing.”
Today, she continues to be an influential figure in Nigerian music. Her latest release was in 2022, an EP titled African Baddie.
Born in Atlanta, David Adedeji Adeleke — best known as Davido — developed his fusion of West African beats and modern production while growing up in Lagos, Nigeria. This unique mix of cultures has greatly influenced his music, making him one of the most distinctive artists in the Afropop genre.
In 2017, his single “If” became a massive hit, not just in Nigeria but across Africa and beyond. The song won several awards, including Song of the Year and Best Pop Single at The Headies 2018.
Recently, Davido’s talent and hard work were recognized at the 2023 Trace Awards, where he emerged as one of the top winners.
Born in Jos, Nigeria, as Innocent Ujah Idibia, 2Baba has become a highly respected Nigerian singer, songwriter, record producer, and entrepreneur. He has made significant contributions to the Afrobeats genre.
His sound, which fuses traditional African music with contemporary pop, has earned him acclaim both within Nigeria and on the international stage.
His song “African Queen,” in particular, has gained immense popularity, with over 11 million streams on Spotify. The track’s blend of smooth rhythms and heartfelt lyrics offers a taste of 2Baba’s unique musical style.
One of 2Baba’s most notable achievements was becoming the first winner of the MTV EMA Best African Act category in 2005. This recognition marked a significant milestone in his career and showcased his talent to a global audience.
From Zaria, Nigeria, we have Oladapo Daniel Oyebanjo. He is the renowned Nigerian singer-songwriter and entrepreneur best known as D’banj. He is often credited for revolutionizing the Afrobeats sound and bringing it to the global stage.
D’banj’s debut album, No Long Thing, was a significant success and introduced him as a force to be reckoned with in the Nigerian music industry. His hit single “Oliver Twist” from this album gained international recognition. It charted in several countries and exposed Afrobeats to a broader audience.
Beyond his music career, D’banj is also known for his entrepreneurial ventures. He founded the Koko Foundation for Youth and Peace Development, showcasing his dedication to fostering peace and youth empowerment in Nigeria.
8. Tiwa Savage
From Lagos, Nigeria, Tiwa Savage was introduced to the music industry after she participated in the UK edition of The X Factor while studying at the Berklee College of Music. Her Afrobeat sound, fused with contemporary R&B and pop elements, gained the attention of the masses.
In 2012, her career took a significant turn when she signed onto Don Jazzy’s Mavin Records. Under this label, she released her debut studio album, Once Upon a Time. It included hit singles like “Kele Kele Love,” “Love Me (3x),” and “Eminado.”
Over the years, Tiwa Savage has collaborated with numerous high-profile artists, both locally and internationally. These include Wizkid, Duncan Mighty, and DJ Spinall in Nigeria, as well as international artists like Omarion, Sam Smith, and Stefflon Don.
Up next is Patrick Nnaemeka Okorie, the popular Nigerian reggae-dancehall singer-songwriter known as Patoranking. He first gained prominence in the Nigerian music scene with his single “Alubarika” in 2013.
A year later, he signed a record deal with Foston Musik and released “Girlie O,” a single that put him in the spotlight. The remix of this song featured Tiwa Savage and was also a big hit.
In 2016, Patoranking debuted with God Over Everything. The album features guest appearances from notable music stars such as Wizkid, Olamide, Phyno, and others. It was a commercial success and solidified his place in the music industry.
Emerging from the bustling streets of Bariga, Lagos, the vibrant voice of Olamide arose, one that would go on to shape the sound of Nigerian street pop.
Olamide is known for his lyrical prowess in both English and Yoruba. His unique blend of hip-hop and indigenous rap has earned him a significant place in the hearts of African music lovers.
His journey into the limelight began with his debut album, Rapsodi, in 2011. However, it was the lead single, “Eni Duro,” that truly marked his arrival. With award-winning albums like Carpe Diem, Baddest Guy Ever Liveth, and YBNL, Olamide consistently shows his ability to evolve and remain relevant.
Up next is the Nigerian-French singer Bukola Elemide, widely known by her stage name Aṣa. She has captivated audiences with her blend of pop, folk, and international influences, including reggae, since her start in the early 2000s.
Her voice, often described as smoky, has made her a distinct figure in the music industry. Aṣa’s journey into music began in her home country of Nigeria, but her talent quickly took her beyond its borders. She moved to France as a young adult, which significantly influenced her sound and musical style.
In her fifth studio record, aptly named V, Aṣa embraced the thumping crossover rhythms of Nigerian pop. It showcased her ability to reinvent herself and keep her sound refreshing and relevant.
Lagos native Ahmed Ololade, known to many as Asake, began to make waves in the music industry in 2017. He then quickly rose to prominence with his unique Afrobeat sound.
His breakout came in 2020 with the release of his song “Lady,” a sunny track with a brisk beat that exuded good-time vibes. This success led him to sign with YBNL Nation and Empire, giving him a platform to reach a broader audience.
In recognition of his talent and potential, BET named Asake as their Amplified Artist for August 2023. Today, Asake continues to push boundaries with his sound, creating music that resonates with listeners around the world.
13. Fireboy DML
The talented singer-songwriter Adedamola Oyinlola Adefolahan has captured the hearts of music lovers with his soulful voice and music blending Afropop, R&B, and soul. Popularly known as Fireboy DML, he hails from Abeokuta, Ogun State, Nigeria.
Fireboy DML gained prominence after signing with YBNL Nation. With them, he debuted with the single “Jealous” in 2018. The song became an instant hit, putting him in the spotlight.
His subsequent releases, including songs like “Vibration,” “Scatter,” and “Eli,” further solidified his position as one of Nigeria’s brightest musical talents. With a rapidly growing fanbase, Fireboy DML has amassed millions of followers on social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter.
Born and based in Lagos, Nigeria, Oxlade has contributed to the changing face of Nigerian and African music. His music blends Afrobeats, R&B, and alternative sounds that captivate listeners.
He’s been in the music industry since 2018. Some of his popular songs include “Away,” “Want You,” and “Ku Lo Sa.” The latter song received several award nominations, including The Headies Song of the Year.
As he continues to make strides in the industry, Oxlade remains focused on his aspirations, aiming to become one of the biggest Afrobeats exports. We certainly can look forward to more amazing music from this Nigerian singer!
Going by his professional name, Ruger, Michael Adebayo Olayinka is a fast-rising Nigerian Afrobeats musician and songwriter.
This Lagos native has made waves with his hit songs “Bounce,” “Ruger,” and “Pandemic.” His rise to prominence can be attributed to his talent and ability to create infectious Afrobeats tracks that resonate with listeners, which he describes as “Afrodancehall.”
Ruger’s distinctive trademark is often seen with an eye patch, which has become synonymous with his musical persona. However, it is important to note that he is not blind in one eye, contrary to popular belief.
Summing Up Our List Of Singers From Nigeria
There you have it, some of the best Nigerian singers that have made marks in the music scene. From contemporary superstars like Wizkid and Tiwa Savage to rising stars like Ruger, Nigeria has produced a rich tapestry of musical icons.
We hope you found this journey through Nigerian music enlightening and enjoyable and maybe even found new songs for your playlist!
If you feel there are other Nigerian singers that deserve recognition, please don’t hesitate to share your recommendations with us. We’ll add them here for you!