African Female Stars have overtime gained more recognition this new decade than past times. They have been in existence for quite some time but are not given much recognition and appreciation like their male counterparts in the music industry.
One of the reasons for this new found recognition is the rise of technology and the digital age that has helped to promote more of African female artists and their art being showcased and spotlighted. Although, female music artists are fewer in number compared to the male music artists, they are equally productive and talented as they are.
They have had to work twice as hard as the male music stars in dishing out hit songs that are successful and have gained global recognition and receiving lots of awards overtime. Some of the ladies that have done exceptionally well in promoting their music locally and globally is Angelique Kidjo, Tems, Kamo Mphela and lots more.
To further appreciate these women of sophisticated music and high calibre, we have put together some of the impressive female music stars that have impacted in the music industry in 2021 ranging from Afrobeats, Afropop, R&B, Amapiano and fusions of one or more of these genres.
Angelique Kidjo is a Beninese singer, songwriter, actress and activist and has overtime been recognized and appreciated for her diverse influences on music and well crafted indigenous music videos making her one of the most relevant female music star in African music. The former Africa’s Premier Diva not only has lots of hit songs and awards to her name, she was ranked by Time in 2021 in their Top 100 list of Most Influential People in the world. To further cement her place in the Industry, she released her impressive album, Mother Nature which is a follow up to her Grammy Award winning album, Celia.
Mother Nature reminded people why she is so good at what she does as she gave her fans an outpour of extraordinary vocals. The album housed 13 tracks with 10 features and 3 global hits.
Angelique is a nine times nominee at the Grammy Awards winner and she eventually won four out of
the nine nominations. This is to prove how prominent she is among other international popular artists and it makes her one of the lead promoters of African music to the world.
Tems is one of the breakout stars of 2021 and she is among the female artists that made impact in the music industry. Although, she has been in the music scene for quite some time, she became more recognized after her hit single, ‘Damages‘ and her collaboration with superstar, Wizkid on his global hit song, ‘Essence’. Her collaboration with Wizkid on the song ‘Essence’ earned her first career entry on billboard Hot 100 and she also featured on Canadian superstar rapper Drake’s ‘Certified Lover Boy’ album. Her collaboration with Drake on the song ‘Fountains’ earned her another Billboard Hot 100 entry.
To keep basking in this euphoria, Tems released her second EP, ‘If Orange Was a Place‘ in September, 2021 and its lead single is the hit song, Crazy Tings which rose to No.3 on the UK chart. Tems keeps progressing in the music scene with her glorious voice and exceptional hit songs and she also excels in promoting African music to the world.
Busiswa Gqulu, also known as Busiswa or Busi, is a South African singer-songwriter and poet who gained public recognition for her feature on DJ Zinhle’s song, ‘My Name Is’. The self acclaimed Queen has been a musical icon since she broke out in 2011 and has been building her credence her ever since. With several awards to her name, Busiswa has an outstanding vocal that lures one in at first hear.
She is excellent in delivering verses and dishing out good music to the pleasure of her fans. She is featured in one of Nigeria’s trending hit song by Naira Marley titled, ‘Coming’. She is also in the elite class of African artistes featured on Beyoncé’s ‘Lion King’ album. She is also widely recognized for her Amapiano songs which are quite energetic and Boppy. Without much doubt, Busiswa is one of the leading female stars in Africa.
Ayra Starr, singer, songwriter and model began singing at a very young age, she sang covers for songs and her soulful voice captivated the legendary Nigerian Producer, Don Jazzy. After she was signed to Mavins Records, she released her EP which housed 5 beautiful tracks namely: Away, Ija, Sare, DITR and ‘Memories’. Ayra Starr ruled 2021 with her hit song, ‘Away’ which has been a sensational hit since its release.
After her impressive, self- titled EP that placed her among the list of rising Nigerian pop stars; Ayra Starr delivered her debut album which housed 11 records. The self tilted album ‘19 & Dangerous’ sees Ayra’s transitioning from adolescence to adulthood. One of the hit singles from her album is ‘Bloody Samaritan’ which has sent her home country and other African countries on fire since its release. It became a household chant and her fans couldn’t seem to get it off their lips. The Gen Z anthem from her is also a street chant that appeals to the Gen Z children born within 1997-2012. Ayra is becoming a huge force to be reckoned with in the music industry. Although young, there’s no limit to her boundaries in promoting her music.
Amaarae is the princess of the new school alternative pop genre and she is widely recognized for her work on gender and race in music. She is a singer, songwriter, producer and engineer. One of her amazing project is her album, ‘The Angel You Don’t Know’ which was released to critical acclaim from local and international media such as Pitchfork and she was also the face of Apple Music’s Africa Rising for two months afterwards.
Amaarae collaborates with Ghanaian and Nigerian music acts as well as other African acts to make good music that has made her a queen among other queens. With a cemented space in the Ghanaian and Nigerian music scene, she remixed her 2020 hit song, ‘Sad Girlz Luv Money‘ to feature Kali Uchis and the song became a viral sensation both on social media and streaming platforms.
Tiwa Savage is one of the biggest pop stars to emerge from West Africa during the 2010s, with
numerous hits and international awards to her name. Tiwa keeps cementing her place at the top in the music industry since she began her career. She has released several albums and Extended Playlists that has earned her lots of nominations and awards. She has been established in the international music scene for some time and she keeps blowing her fans’ minds out especially with the lead single off her latest EP titled ‘Somebody’s Son’ with American singer, Brandy. The song proves she’s grown to incorporate vintage Afrobeat influences in her songs.
Tiwa undoubtedly is a huge figure in promoting African music. With perfect blend of empowering lyrics and rich tune in her songs, she is set to take on the world with her outstanding performance and vocals.
Kamo Mphela is also a breakout artist and part of a new wave of Gen Z artists on the African continent. The 21 years old interest in dance and music set her on the path of music. Since then, she has been making good and soulful music that captivates it’s listeners all the time. Today, Mphela is one of the most distinct voices and personalities behind the global rise of the Amapiano movement and she claims to have been inspired by her environment and music she grew up listening to.
She also draws inspiration from her home country South Africa being a dance loving country and she seeks to pay tribute and homage to her heritage with her sound, art and rhythm. Her hit songs, ‘Thula Thula and Dubai are amazing energetic songs that showcase her strength as a musician and dancer and she is sure to deliver more as she grows.
Makhadzi is a South African singer who became prominent in the music industry with her songs,
‘Tshanda Vuhya and Matarokisi’. She made a huge impression in 2021 with her 2020 album ‘Kokovha’ as it debuted at no. 1 on South African iTunes album charts. In August, Apple Music included Makhadzi in its Visionary Women Campaign to celebrate women in music and their achievements for Women’s Month, with her album being the most streamed album by a South African female artist. The French streaming platform also ranked her in fourth position in the Top Female Artists list after Taylor Swift,Billie Eilish and Beyoncé.
With her relentless yet yielding efforts, she earned herself several nominations and awards and she launched a sneakers brand after her successful album, Kokovha. She is slowly becoming a lead female act in South Africa and beyond with her magnanimous voice and well delivered verses in her songs.
Yemi Alade is a Nigerian Afro pop singer, songwriter, actress and activist. She has been active in the music scene since 2005 and she became relevant since the year, 2009. One of Yemi’s major
achievements in her music career is the release of her hit song, ‘Johnny’ in 2014 and she has been prominent since then. She is applauded for her overwhelming stage performances, fashion and music videos.
Her latest album, Queendoncom houses many hit songs like; Fire, Sweety, and Enjoyment which has gain lots of recognition and earned the Afrobeat queen lots of accolades. Also featured in Angelique Kidjo’s hit song, ‘Dignity’, Yemi is bound to take control of African music in the recent years to come.
Elaine is another amazing South African act that fuses traditional R&B and Trap-soul together. She became the first independent artist to reach no. 1 on the iTunes and Apple Music charts in South Africa with her debut EP, Elements.
Elaine is a well structured and defined artist that keeps pushing the boundaries of R&B in African music. Her song Right Now is a mind blowing hit with lots of streams and downloads on digital platforms. ‘The Shining Star’ is another epic song from her that proves that the star, Elaine is a star in its making. The aforementioned female stars are not the only sensational female music stars in Africa nor are they the only ones with hit songs. There are numerous other female artists that fits into this category and just like the ones listed, they are doing everything in their power to carve
a niche for themselves in African and global music.