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Ayra Starr: The Amazing Rise of that Small Girl from Agbado Ijaiye



By Eric Elezuo

From day one, she knew she was going to hit hardest and make it big within a very short period, and so it was not a mistake when she chose the alias, Celestial Being. A name depicting divinity and heavenly royalty. Her is Ayra Starr, born Oyinkansola Sarah Aderibigbe in 2002 in far away Cotonou, Republic of Benin, the talented songstress, who is better addressed as Sability or Miss Sabi, to buttress her intelligence, by fans, has become a household name in the music industry barely two years after she stumbled into the recording studio.

Unable to hold her gratitude to the Almighty God, the slim beauty, who is due to clock 21 on June 14, took to her social media handle to express her deep felt appreciation, saying “I really don’t even know what I’m gonna do when rush hits a 100 mil on YouTube, do I cry , do I jump ?? God, 2 years ago I was just a small girl from Agbado ijaiye.” That says so much about her personality, and not forgetting her upbringing, which has kept her on the right track till tomorrow.

Ayra Starr’s rise to stardom is meteoric, to say the least. Her boldness in posting her original song on Instagram in December 2019, was the straw that broke carmel’s back as well the strike that set the trend for a classy musical journey in a terrain where heavyweights in the guise of Tiwa Savage, Yemi Alade, Tems, Niniola, Teni and many others held sway. The previously ‘small girl from Agbado Ijaiye’ was not intimidated. She took the bull by the horn, and rode it like meek and mild horse. Today, her superhit, Rush, has garnered 94 million views on Youtube, and counting, and it is just a matter of time before the ‘small girl’ hit 100 million. The feat is magnanimous, and of course celestial.

Ayra Starr started her career in the fashion world at the age of 16 with Quove Model Management before being divinely led to give full attention to musical career. Having been in the business of giving prominence to songs by popular artists on Instagram, she, in December 2019 posted her first original song. That was the icing she need as the attention of the one and only Don Jazzy was drawn. The long story ended with her berthing at the popular Mavin Records, reputed for raising stars. It was a new dawn for Miss Sabi.

Wondering why the songstress had an early musical start? The answer is not farfetched. She was raised in a music-loving family, and the fact that she found music as a leeway to drown frustrations that emanated from bullying and taunts as result of his small size and age while in high school. At the age of 10, she sang in a high school choir and began writing songs with her brother.  That didn’t in any way stunt her academic pursuit. She attended Les Cours Sonou University and obtained a BA degree in International Relations and Political Science.

According to her, she had a wide range of musical influences, including 2Face Idibia, Wande Coal, Angélique Kidjo, Lijadu Sisters and Tope Alabi while growing up, and in college, Nicki Minaj, Justin Bieber, Sia and Tiwa Savage. She credited Shakira as her biggest influence vocally along with Beyoncé, Rihanna and Miley Cyrus.

In August 2018, Starr, who was born of Kwara parents modelled for companies such as Mazelle Studio, Complete Fashion Magazine and Esperanza Woman. In 2019, she began posting covers of songs by artists like Andra Day and 2Face Idibia online. She appeared in the music video for Eri Ife’s song “Dear Future Wife.” In December 2019, she uploaded an original song called “Damage” on her Instagram page. This was heard by thousands of people including label executive Don Jazzy and led to her first recording contract with Mavin Records.

In 2020, she started recording at Mavin Studios in Lagos with producers Louddaaa and Don Jazzy. Her self-titled debut extended play was released on 22 January, 2021 through Mavin Records. The album has been described as “a topsy-turvy chronicle of love or love-themed situations”. She said her intention with the record was to make music that would resonate with both young and old listeners, writing one of the songs on the EP alone, and co-wrote the remaining four with her brother Dami. Shortly after its release, the EP became the number-one album on Nigeria iTunes and Apple Music. By March 2021, it has reached the same position on Apple Music in 4 other countries, racking up over 15 million streams across Spotify, YouTube and Audio Mack. The project spawned the hit track “Away” which peaked at number four on Nigeria’s TurnTable Top 50 and number 17 on US Billboard Top Triller Global. Its accompanying music video also debuted on MTV Base’s Official Naija Top 10. OkayAfrica included the song in their list of The 9 Best Nigerian Songs of January 2021. Ayra Starr released remix versions of “Ija” and “Away” featuring Tokimonsta and Lilo respectively between March and April. Around the same time, Crayon’s EP Twelve A.M was released with her vocals on the track “In Sync.” She performed at the UC Berkeley Nigerian Students Association virtual culture show titled The Olori Awards. On 28 April 2021, the official music video for her song “DITR” was released on YouTube via Mavin. In June 2021, the music video for another song titled “Sare”, was released.

Ayra Starr achieved mainstream recognition with her eponymous debut extended play and its hit track “Away” which spent two consecutive weeks at number four on Nigeria’s TurnTable Top 50 and went to number 17 on US Billboard Top Triller Global, paving the way for the release of her first full-length mixtape, 19 & Dangerous in August 2021. Categorized mainly as Afropop and R’nB, the album has been met with favorable critical reception. It spawned two top forty hits in Nigeria. The lead single “Bloody Samaritan” peaked atop the Top 50 chart, becoming the first solo song by a female artist to reach the number-one position. Starr debuted on Pandora Predictions chart, and on 28 August 2021, she ranked number two on Billboards Next Big Sound.

Growing up in Cotonou, Benin, and Lagos, Nigeria, gave her access to diverse cultures and languages. Though her constant movement occasioned by her father’s business did not allow her make much of close friends, she nonetheless acquired untold experiences inhabiting several locations.

Starr has come a long way ever since, no only dishing out hits after hits, but also performing on high profile stages, On July 11, 2021, she performed for the season finale of Nigerian Idol and during a live eviction episode of Big Brother Naija.  Her 19 & Dangerous marked her first time recording alongside guest artists such as Fousheé and CKay. It was met with favorable critical reception with most critics characterizing its sound as primarily Afropop and R&B. It spawned two top forty hits on the TurnTable Top 50, the highest being “Bloody Samaritan”, its lone single, which became Starr’s first number-one single on the chart. The song climbed the Top 50 for several weeks, and, on the chart dated 27 September 2021, it reached the number one spot, making Ayra Starr the first female artist to do so with a solo single. She debuted on Pandora Predictions chart, and on 28 August 2021, she ranked number two on the Billboards Next Big Sound. She was featured on “in the light”, a track on Johnny Drille’s Before We Fall Asleep. On 4 September 2021, she was named brand ambassador for Pepsi Nigeria. She collaborated with Cheque on “Dangerous”, the second track on his album Bravo. At the 8th African Muzik Magazine Awards, she was nominated for Best Newcomer award. She featured in the October 2021 issue of Accelerate TV’s The Cover and in the Fall/Winter 2021 issue of ODDA. In 2021, she appeared in a Notion editorial.

With a voice described in the media as “silky”, “cozy”, “delicate”, “sturdy”, “arresting” and “soulful”, Ayra Starr has succeeded in serenading all calibre. The dynamic nature of her range and emotional delivery also lend credence to acceptability. She plays with a mixture of English, Nigerian Pidgin English and Yoruba, often exploring contemporary topics such as love, relationship, empowerment and freedom.

Starr has received so many rave reviews, and all have turned out positive. With hit songs like Blood Samaritan, Beggi Beggi with Ckay, Sability, and Rush, Ayra Starr has cleared the doubts of many who felt she may not enjoy the limelight for long.

The sabi girl, who is blessed with four siblings, has arrived, and has arrived to stay! All thanks to her brother, who assisted her write songs, her mum and aunt, who tutored her in the act of singing, her dad, who encouraged her to complete her education first and the Almighty God, without who, there is no her.

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Breath of Life Shines at AMVCA, Wins Best Movie Award




Breath of Life has been announced as the winner of the Best Movie Award at the 10th edition of the Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards (AMVCA).

Wale Ọjọ, the lead actor in the movie won the Best Actor Award.

“Breath of Life” is a Prime Video original written and directed by BB Sasore who also won the Best Director award of the night. It was produced by by Eku Edewor.

The movie is a faith-based film that follows the story of Timi, who has lost his sense of purpose until he met his Elijah, who changed his life and destiny.

The movie is set in the 1950s to showcase the stellar life of a young Timi, who has a talent for languages, graduating at the top of his class, and becoming the most excellent candidate in the British Navy.

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Simi Features As Special Guest on Glo-sponsored African Voices




Star singer Simi is special guest on Glo-sponsored African Voices

This weekend’s edition of African Voices Changemakers, on CNN International, will feature Nigerian songster, songwriter and actress, Simisola Bolatito Kosoko, popularly known by her stage name, Simi.

According to a statement by sponsors of the show, Globacom, Simi will delight viewers with inspirational stories behind her adventure in the music world on the 30-minute magazine programme.

Simi was born on 19 April 1988 in Lagos as the last of four children. She started her career as a gospel singer, releasing her debut studio album in 2008, entitled “Ogaju”. She gained public recognition in 2014 after releasing “Tiff”, a song that was nominated for Best Alternative Song at The Headies 2015. Earlier in 2014, Simi signed a record deal with X3M Music, but left the label in May 2019 following the expiration of her contract.

She released her second studio album “Simisola” on September 8, 2017. Her third studio album “Omo Charlie Champagne”, Vol. 1 was released to coincide with her 31st birthday on April 19, 2019, after which she launched her record label Studio Brat in June of the same year.

The graduate of Covenant University, Ota, Ogun State was one of the top judges in Season 7 of the Nigerian idol TV show in 2022.

Simi who married a singer named Adekunle Gold in a private wedding ceremony on January 9, 2019 became a mother for the first time on the 30th of May 2020 when she gave birth to her daughter Adejare.

The 30-minute magazine programme will be aired on Saturday at 8.30 a.m. Repeats will be broadcast on Saturday at noon; Sunday at 4.30 a.m. and 7.00 p.m. On Monday next week, another repeat will be shown at 4.00 a.m., Saturday at 8.30 a.m. and 12 noon and Sunday at 7.00 p.m. and 9.30 p.m.

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‘We Finally Lost Him’, AGN Confirms Junior Pope’s Death




The National President of the Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN), Emeka Rollas, has confirmed the death of Nollywood actor, John Paul Odonwodo, popularly known as Junior Pope.

The actor and three of his colleagues were coming back from a movie location in a boat when they fell into Anam River in Anambra on Wednesday.

Rollas took to his instagram page on Thursday to disclose the sad development as he wrote, “It is so so sad that our joy was shortlived.

“My first post was out of excitement when we noticed his tingling fingers. Two notable hospitals tried their best to revive him but to no avail.

“God knows the best. We finally lost him,” he said.

Junior Pope joined the Nollywood industry in 2006, and started attending movie auditions and acting as a minor character in movies.

He usually played the role of a bodyguard, palace attendant, and servant in movies.

In 2007, he rose to fame after acting in the Nollywood blockbuster movie “Secret Adventures”, a movie directed by Tchidi Chikere.

He acted in more than 150 Nollywood movies which include: “Secret Adventures”, “Mad sex”, “Bitter Generation”, “Vengeance of Bullet”, “The Cat”, “The Generals”, “Wrong Initiation” among others.


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