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Africa Entertainment News of Thursday, 1 April 2021


Here are the top 11 Nigerian artists to emerge from talent shows

Talent shows are like the bread and butter of Nigerian music. While their importance has nosedived over the past few years, they were a healthy ground for talent showcase, a strong way to unite families for primetime TV, a test of talent veracity, a nucleus of advertisement for brands - especially TELCOs and a strong ground for TV ratings.

While most of these talented contestants never really make the grade in terms of mainstream success, some have defied the odds. They have transcended the limitations of talent shows to have full-fledged music careers. This list aims to celebrate those trendsetters.

Here are the top 11 Nigerian artists to emerge from talent shows;

Nigga Raw

Talent show: 2002 Star Quest

No. of albums: Four

The 2002 Edition of Star Quest was the first and last event that was held, until Star The Winner Is recently became a thing. That particular event was packed with future stars. Nigga Raw competed against Asa, KC Presh and a few others.

After the event, it took Nigga Raw a while to get on his feet. But when he finally did, he made himself a pioneer of indigenous rap and a legend of Nigerian Hip-Hop. His sophomore album, Everything Remains Raw is a cult classic.


Talent show: Project Fame West Africa

No. of albums: One

In 2009, Chidinma was just a teenager when she won an international competition. She signed to Goretti/Capital Hill and released hits like ‘Jankoliko’ and her signature record, ‘Kedike.’

She has won a Headies Award and a KORA Award in her career.


Talent Show: West African Idols

No. of albums: Five

Omawumi is one of Nigeria’s finest vocalists of the modern era. Despite being the first runner-up in her generation at the West African Idols, she made herself a core part of Nigerian music history with one milestone after another.

She succeeded, created five albums in a career that’s still going.


Talent show: Project Fame West Africa

No. of albums: 3

Before Niniola finally got her to break on Project Fame West Africa in 2013 as the third runner-up, she had been on two previous talent shows. After she took home her NGN1.5 million, she invested it all into her career.

When she finally got ‘Ibadi,’ she never looked back as the hits kept on coming. ‘Soke’ ran into ‘Maradona’ and ‘Sicker’ before she released her debut album, This Is Me.

Her craft has earned her African adulation as the Queen of Afro-house. She has also earned respect, endorsement and collaboration with Beyonce, DJ Snake, Timbaland and Drake.


Talent show: Project Fame West Africa, 2009

No. of albums: Four

While Iyanya immediately released an album titled My Story in 2009, his success was to come when he released ‘Kukere’ in 2012.The same year, Iyanya became the hottest property in Nigeria and Africa with a string of consecutive hits, produced by the incredible D’Tunes.

By 2013, he was named Artist of The Year at The Headies. If MTV held the African Music Awards in any year between 2012 and 2013, Iyanya would have definitely won some of the biggest awards.

His career at the top might not have lasted as long, but his stint deserves all the respect.


Talent Show: 2002 Star Quest

No. of albums: Four

By now, you should know the story of that 2002 event. At the time, Asa was a France IJGB with talent. Her moment was to arrive around three years later when she met super-producer, Cobhams Asuquo through her long-time friend, Janet Nwose at Allianz Francais.

She was the supposed niche act who became a mainstream act, adored by many across the African continent. Her music was a breath of fresh air and she became Africa’s subject of ‘I can do it too.’

She has released two classic albums and has seen the debut of her album in charts across Europe. She won Next Rated at the Headies in 2005 and has gone on to get nominated for Best Female at the MTV African Music Award.


Talent show: 2002 Star Quest

No. of albums: Eight

The 2002 Edition of Star Quest was the first and last event that was held, until Star The Winner Is recently became a thing. That particular event was packed with future stars. KCee was alongside Presh - a friend whom he met in church some years earlier - as KC Presh, a Rap group. They competed against Asa, Nigga Raw and a few others.

KC Presh won and they signed on to Kennis Music, where they released hits like ‘Sengemenge,’ ‘Shokori Bobo’ and ‘Ebingwori.’ They released two albums together and won a Channel O Music Award in 2005. KCee has since gone on to have a fantastic solo career.

In 2012, his single, ‘Limpopo’ was arguably the biggest African song for one year. He has released over seven solo albums since then and recently worked on two volumes of Cultural Praise.

Mercy Chinwo

Talent Show: Nigerian Idol 2012

Albums: Two

Mercy Chinwo was a 22-year-old when she competed, while she was singing secular music. A few years later, she’s one of the biggest artists in Africa. In 2019, one of her songs was one of the most-streamed Nigerian records on YouTube.

These days, she is a household name who is known for her mesmerizing stage performances and incredible vocal range and vocal performances.

Ice Prince

Talent show: 2009 Hennessy Artistry Club Tour

No. of albums since: Four

At that talent show, Nigerian artist, Skales was also part of the Ice Prince’s competition. After Zamani won the competition, he asked for a chance at Chocolate City as MI Abaga rapped on ‘Head of The Family,’ off Illegal Music III.

Ice Prince went ahead to release the classic tape, Everybody Loves Ice Prince and his successful sophomore, Fire of Zamani. He has since won prestigious awards like BET Best International Act award in 2013, numerous Channel O Music Awards and a number of Headies.

Yemi Alade

Talent show: 2009 Peak Talent Show

No. of albums: Five

After winning that talent show in 2009, Alade took a few years to truly find her feet. When she finally did with ‘Johnny,’ a groundbreaking African hit, she never stopped, neither did she look back. She soared in popularity, evolved into an artist with impeccable stagecraft and a pan-African identity. She has won The Headies Award for Best Performer twice, 2018 and 2019.

She gained affectionate fans across the continent and then Europe and the middle east. While her act hasn’t produced a lot of hits, she has created her own world where her own rules apply. She is a superstar who was named Best Female Act at the MTV African Music Awards in 2015 and 2016.

In 2015, Alade was the first Nigerian female to be nominated for the MTV Europe Music Awards for Best African Act and was nominated for the BET awards for Best International act: Africa in 2015 and 2016.

P Square

Talent Show: 2001 Grab Da Mic

Number of albums: Six

P Square were the biggest African acts at some point. They were singing, dancing and performing colossus, with a balancing act of stagecraft and expensively shot music videos. As early as 2007, P Square would sell out stadiums across the African continent and see fans faint from intoxicating affection and adulation.

After they won that competition, the late great music promoter Bayo ‘Howie T’ Odusanmi signed them to Timbuktu Music, on which they released their Benson & Hedges-sponsored debut album, Last Nite. From there, they never looked back as they dominated their peers and generations to come with an effective blueprint.

All the awards you can think of, they are represented at them.