Artist Focus: Tiwa Savage
Tiwa Savage is a game-changer
Real name: Tiwatope Savage-Balogun Stage name: Tiwa Savage Date of birth: February 5, 1980 State of Origin: Lagos Nationality: Nigerian Genre: Afrobeat, R&B, Soul
In a music industry teeming with numerous artists, Tiwa Savage stands tall, eclipsing many that have come before her, and showing the ones that are still struggling that no dream is too big to be achieved. Her accomplishments, more than anything else, are a pointer to how much of a behemoth she is.
Growing up, the artist known as Tiwa Savage had a dream of being a star. She was born in Isale Eko, Lagos State and her family relocated to London when she was 11 years old.
Her music talent manifested at an early age; during her high school days, she was a trombone player for the school’s orchestra band.
She graduated from the University of Kent with a degree in Business Administration and worked at The Royal Bank of Scotland for a time. Thereafter, Tiwa Savage enrolled at Berklee College of Music, bagging another degree in professional music at the age of 27.
Before this time, her singing ability was already opening doors of opportunities for the black-skinned beauty and this led to her doing backup vocals for established acts like George Michael at the age of 16. She also lent her voice to other artists like Mary J. Blige, Chaka Khan, Blu Cantrell, Emma Bunton, Kelly Clarkson, Andrea Bocelli, and Ms. Dynamite amongst others.
Prior to her graduation from the University, Tiwa Savage competed on The X Factor (U.K.) during its third season and made it to the final 24. She signed a deal with Sony/ATV Music Publishing in 2009. The deal opened an avenue for her to write songs for Babyface, Kat Deluna, Fantasia Barrino, Monica, and Mya.
She collaborated with Fantasia on the track Collard Greens & Cornbread and the song earned the American recording artist a Grammy nomination in 2010.
She wrote Kat Deluna’s Push Push featuring Akon and David Guetta and performed background vocals on Whitney Houston’s album I Look to You (2009).
Her impressive portfolio attracted the attention of the Pepsi brand and she was signed by them in an endorsement deal, making her the first African female artist to be associated with the famous brand.
In December 2011, Tiwa Savage co-hosted the second season of Nigerian Idol and joined Don Jazzy’s Mavin Records the following year. She was one of the lead acts on the label’s album Solar Plexus.
Having been introduced into the Nigerian music scene, a lot of artists chose to work with her and this led to her featuring on the remix of Flavour’s Oyi in 2012.
November 2012 saw her join forces with Waje, Praiz, Timi Dakolo, and Pamela Egoh on the Ovation Red Carol theme song Higher.
Deciding it was time to assert her arrival in the industry, Tiwa Savage recorded her debut studio album Once Upon A Time 2013. It was promoted with the hit singles Kele Kele Love, Love Me (3x), Without My Heart, Olorun Mi and Eminado. The album was nominated for Best Album of the Year at the 2014 Nigeria Entertainment Awards, and also for Best R&B/Pop Album at The Headies 2014.
As a natural performer, acting was another thing that beckoned to her and she answered the call by making her film debut with Joke Silva, and Ireti Doyle in the stage adaptation of For Colored Girls.
Tiwa Savage signed an endorsement deal with MTN Nigeria in July 2013 and it was reportedly worth N30 million.
She released her second album R.E.D. (an acronym for Romance, Expression, and Dance). It featured guest appearances from Don Jazzy, Olamide, Dr. SID, Iceberg Slim, 2face, D’Prince, Busy Signal, and Reekado Banks. The album was made available for free digital streaming on MTN Music.
Within 24 hours of its release, R.E.D. became the most streamed album of all time on that particular music platform.
Tiwa Savage signed a deal with Roc Nation in 2016 and performed on the Liberty Stage of Jay-Z’s Made in America Festival on September 3, 2017.
Her debut EP Sugarcane was released on 22 September 2017 with Wizkid, Maleek Berry and others as guest performers on it.
She went on to prove that she was no local champion by headlining a concert at The O2’s Indigo venue. It was a sold-out event.
In November 2018, Tiwa Savage won the Best African Act at the MTV Europe Music Awards, the first woman to win the category. She then performed at the 2018 Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100 which held at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Universal Music Group announced her signing in a 7-year publishing deal. This was followed by the revelation that she had left Mavin Records.
Her recognition as a spectacularly talented musician was further shown in Beyonce picking her to co-write and feature in the latter’s soundtrack album The Lion King: The Gift in 2019.
Her marriage to Tunji ‘TeeBillz’ Balogun in November 2013 was short-lived as the pair parted ways in 2018. The union led to Tiwa giving birth to son, Jamil in July 2015.
Tiwa Savage has brought more recognition to African female artists and inspired a lot of those who felt overshadowed by their male counterparts to reinvent themselves to be better.
Her staggering achievements are undeniable and the palpable excitement she brings to her stage performances always leaves her fans begging for more. Her vocals remind one of the singing sirens in ancient Greek mythology who lured sailors with their enchanting music because that is what Tiwa Savage does!