Celebrating Leading Ladies Of Naija Music.
A woman might have named NIGERIA, but that certainly does not dilute the acute gender disparity that exists in every facet of its existence. Like a majority of other sectors, its music scene is a heavily male-dominated space. However, over the years, some female musicians have successfully reached the helm of prominence in the industry, trampling over gender-biased obstacles to achieve their ambitions.
History would be incomplete if we ignore the female golden hit makers of the 90s, who flourished at a period where women were increasingly back-seated in the industry’s development. It took the likes of Onyeka Onwenu, the Elegant Stallion, who created danceable, yet introspective evergreen music; Evi-Edna Ogholi, who co-pioneered Reggae music in Nigeria with her Isoko-laden melodies; Salawa Abeni, the Queen of Waka Music, who was the first female Yoruba artiste to sell a million records (bearing in mind that these were all physical copies as internet streaming had not yet been baptised into the industry by then); and the legendary Christy Essien-Igbokwe, who created socio-conscious music in six different languages – Yoruba, Hausa, Igbo, Ibibio, Efik, and English; to propel the perception of females in the music industry as growth-drivers and successful figures.
A lot more women, such as the sonorous wonder, Nelly Uchendu, Kefee of ‘Branama’ fame, Esther Ebigbo of ‘Resonance’, among others, also piloted this great paradigm shift. These women hacked the blueprint for continental success. With their careers, they demonstrated that success in the industry rested beyond the contours of physical beauty, sass, and vocal prowess; it required hardcore grit, consistency, and bravery to contribute to the apogee of Naija’s music industry.
Today, history seems to be repeating itself again. With the dawn of the millennia, several other feminine songsters emerged to pick up the baton from these forerunners. These songstresses have had an impressive run dusting off the sticky stereotypes associated with female artists, to achieve longevity, prestige, and prominence among the divas of the game.
Displaying a disciplined consistency, a fattened discography of award-guzzling hits, dynamism, adaptability, critical acclaim, and vocal prominence, these women have become the captains of a new vanguard of female musicians. Some of these women have had staggering popularity. However, their popularity is not a measure of their standing in this review.