SheHUB Nigeria: Ayra Starr, The Nigerian Grammy-Nominated Queen Soaring High

“Shinji Kagawa, Jesu kristi loba wa. Got them falling yakata. You know as e sabi girl dey do…”

If you are familiar with theis lyrics, then you are most likely a Starr fan. If not, let me introduce you to the sensational Nigerian talent Ayra Starr!

The Beninese-born Nigerian singing coroner had always known she was born for greatness. She told the media she had a ridiculous confidence as a child. “I don’t know where it came from, but it was ridiculous.” She said. “Ever since I was young, I always stood out in my own way.”

As foreseen, at 18, Ayra Starr captivated the world with her hit track “Away.” It was in 2021, and Nigerians couldn’t keep the song off their lips. It was as though everything from Ayra’s childhood had prepared her for the moment– the time millions of people would stream her music due to her poise, voice, and lyrical ingenuity.

Photo source: Ayra Starr’s IG

A quick flashback to Ayra’s childhood: Ayra’s native name is Oyinkansola Sarah Aderibigbe. She was born on June 14, 2002, and raised in Cotonou, Benin, although she currently resides in Lagos, Nigeria. The Sabi Girl attended Les Cours Sonou University, Benin, where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in international relations and political science in 2020. Ayra has four siblings– two brothers, Ade and Dami Aderibigbe, and two sisters, Tolulope and Jesutumise Aderibigbe. 

Ayra’s brother Dami is influential in her talent as a musician. Dami is a guitarist, producer, and songwriter. Ayra narrated that she and her brother would make music together since she was five years old. Even when her mother would come home from work tired, while the other siblings cater to her mum by giving her a massage, Ayra and her brother would opt to “sing to her.”

While music is Ayra’s first love and she sang frequently, she ventured into modelling at 13. A young success, she was signed with Quove Model Management in 2019 and represented many brands, including Mazelle Studio, Viper Magazine, and Esperanza.

In December 2019, Ayra decided to post her first original song on her Instagram,  and the song caught the attention of the Mavin Record boss, Don Jazzy, who signed her to his record label “literally three days later,” Ayra revealed.

After being signed, Ayra’s music career catapulted to the next level. Beyond her debut single “Away” blowing minds, her hit single “Rush” surpassed 100 million streams on both Spotify and YouTube. When she released “Bloody Samaritan”, the R&B banger got more international fans and attracted Kelly Rowland, who later joined the remix and became her mentor.

Photo source: Ayra Starr’s IG

Following her success, Ayra Starr collaborated with many of her favourite Afrobeat stars, including Wizkid in the song “2 Sugar” and Tiwa Savage in the music “Stamina.” Ayra spoke of her relationship with Tiwa Savage.

“With Tiwa, whenever she calls me, I start singing her songs before I can even say hello. She’ll say, ‘Ayra, calm down,’ and I’m like, ‘No, I actually have your number, and you’re calling me!’ Ayra said.

Ayra’s shot to fame was not without the criticism many female singers have received. Several male audiences have constantly policed and criticised her clothing. However, unbothered, the Sabi queen responded with clapbacks like “The misogyny is smelling” and tweeted: “A bunch of useless men in my CS telling me what to wear and what I shouldn’t.” 

Photo source: Ayra Starr’s IG

She also added: “Everything I do is for the girlies”.

Being a girl’s girl since she was young, she had said in an interview: “Growing up, I listened to a lot of female musicians, and I would feel happy and powerful.”

Ayra also asked for feminist accounts to follow.

Despite the criticisms her clothing gets, Ayra stays true to her choice of fashion and musical expressions. In November 2023, she became the first and youngest Nigerian female artist to be nominated for a Grammy award.

Photo source: Ayra Starr’s IG

Soaring higher than ever, the sensational singer has been nominated in the 66th Annual Grammy Awards in 2024 for Best African Music Performance for her song “Rush.”

Reacting to her nomination, Ayra’s colleague and Grammy winner Tems said“Seeing these girlies win is actually everything because they work so hard and they believed! I’m so happy and proud rn (right now). A huge congratulations. So well deserved.”

Now, 21, we are certain Ayra Starr’s road to climax is only beginning, and we are here for the ride! 

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