SPECIAL FEATURE: Ayra The Shining Starr

Nigeria has once again been experiencing the return of female singers into the music industry. One of the new leading lights, is the Grammy nominated, Beninese-born Nigerian Afrobeats diva, Oyinkansola Sarah Aderibigbe professionally known as Ayra Starr. She began a fashion career at the age of 16 with Quove Model Management before deciding to pursue a career in music.

Like many rising artists today, she eagerly shared her work on social media. Consistent uploads of cover recordings earned her passionate followership but the big moment came after she put up ‘Damage’ on her Instagram feed, which was one of the few original songs she had done at that point. A DM from legendary producer and Mavin Records CEO Don Jazzy crystalized into a deal with his record label, but Ayra Starr wouldn’t be unveiled to the world until two years later. During that time she went through the fabled Mavin academy, learning the intricacies of song writing, performance, media relations, and everything necessary to be a star. When the world was stuck in a pandemic​,​ she recorded the songs that would make 19 & Dangerous. The vibrancy of creativity that came with youth was steered onto the right channels, and with such instructional figures around her, Ayra Starr—unlike so many artists of the previous and current generation—has known the potentials of collaboration.  

In early 2021, 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 chart; the song also peaked at number 17 on the Billboard Top Triller Global chart, paving the way for the release of her first full-length album, 19 & Dangerous (2021). Categorized mainly as afropop and R&B, the mixtape received favorable critical reception and 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, was ranked number three on Billboard‘s Next Big Sound.

Starr would later achieve mainstream international recognition in 2022, with the release of her song “Rush“. The song charted in several territories, including Switzerland, Ireland and the United Kingdom, where it peaked at number 24. it earned Starr her first nomination at the 66th Annual Grammy Awards for Best African Music Performance.

With the song, Starr became the youngest African Female Artist to surpass 100 Million views on a single video on YouTube, and also the first to do so within 5 months.

On November 10, 2022, Starr featured on “2 Sugar”, a track from Wizkid‘s fifth studio album More Love, Less Ego. The song reached number 1 on Billboard’s Hot Trending, and debuted at number 5 on the Billboard U.S. Afrobeats Songs chart. On March 4, 2023, Starr took to social media to announce her music was used as soundtrack for blockbuster American action movie, Creed III.

Oyinkansola Sarah Aderibigbe was born on 14 June 2002 in Cotonou, Benin, and grew up there and in Lagos, Nigeria. She is Nigerian and of the Yoruba ethnicity. Her family moved frequently during her high school years because of her father’s business, and as a result she had a hard time forming close friendships.

Having been raised in a music-loving family, her interest in singing comes mostly from her family. At the age of 10, she sang in a high school choir and began writing songs with her brother. She attended Les Cours Sonou University and received a BA degree in International Relations and Political Science.

In September 2021, Starr became a brand a,ambassador for Pepsi Nigeria.

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