No doubt, Africa is blessed with women of great talents who have created a bridge between the continent and the Western World in terms of female empowerment. As such, be it in music, fashion, sports, and even business, they have propelled themselves into reckoning around the world. In the music industry, women like Angelique Kidjo, the late Brenda Fassie, and also the late Miriam Makeba paved a way for modern African women to put their crafts on the international stage. One such woman is Tiwatope Savage, known simply as Tiwa Savage. She would be the first in our series of articles on successful ‘black Women’ in the music industry on this platform. Who is Tiwa Savage? Her early life and her journey so far would be our major focus in this article.
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Who is Tiwa Savage?
Tiwatope Savage is a Nigerian female musician, songwriter, and actress. She was born on the 5th of February, 1980 to Nigerian parents, the Late Alhaji Savage and Cecilia Savage. Tiwa is the last child and the only daughter of the couple. She has two elder brothers, Wale Savage, and Shola Savage. Tiwa Savage is one of the most sought pop stars of West African origin. She possesses an innovative talent that helps her combine Afro-pop, reggae, and contemporary R&B. Blending them with her fluency in English and her native Yoruba language.
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Tiwa Savage Early Life
Tiwa Savage was born in Isale Eko Lagos where she grew up until the age of 11. But like many other Nigerians, she was lucky enough to be exposed to the western world at an early age when her parents relocated to the United Kingdom. This evidently gave her the opportunity to mingle with both her roots and the international platforms seamlessly.
In the United Kingdom, she graduated from the popular University of Kent with a degree in Business Administration. Notably, while she was in secondary school, she was a trombone player for her school’s orchestra band. She further went to study at the Berklee College of Music in order to groom her music career. Before she graduated from music school, she had participated in a competition known as “The X-Factor (UK)” in series three. She made it into the final 24.
Tiwa Savage Career
She worked briefly with the Royal Bank of Scotland after graduating from the University of Kent before focusing on her musical career. Tiwa signed a publishing deal with Sony/ATV Music Publishing in 2009. She pushed herself into the reckoning and created a platform for herself with some background work, such as appearing on Whitney Houston’s ‘I look to you’. Tiwa Savage put in the work from the scratch, starting out as a backup singer and a songwriter. She had a songwriting credit in the album “Back to Me” which was nominated for a Grammy award.
Tiwa Savage co-hosted the popular Nigerian reality show “The Nigerian Idol” with Nigerian television host, Olowu Bardia Adebola known as ‘Illrhymz’. She had a supportive role in the stage adaptation of “For Coloured Girls”. It also featured veteran actresses, Joke Silva and Ireti Doyle.
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2012 – 2014
Buoyed by the growth in the Nigerian Music Industry, Tiwa returned to Nigeria in 2012. She signed up with Mavin Records – which was one of the most successful labels in the country, owned by Don Jazzy. She appeared on the Label’s ‘Solar Plexus’ compilation.
In 2013, Tiwa Savage co-founded the 323 entertainment record label with her then-manager and husband, Olatunji Balogun. She went on to produce her debut studio album “Once upon a time” which was released on the 3rd of July 2013. It included a prior self-released single “Kele Kele Love” produced by Harmony Samuels in 2010, which earned her nominations for the ‘Most Gifted Female Video’ award in the Channel O Music Video Awards in 2011 and also in the Headies for the ‘Next Rated’ in the same year.
Subsequently, Tiwa Savage gained a nomination for the ‘Best African Act’ at the Mobo Awards in 2013, as well as a nomination for the ‘Musician of the year (Female)’ at the City People Entertainment Awards. Also “Once upon a time” was nominated for “Best album of the year” and “Best R&B/Pop Album” at the Headies and the Nigeria Entertainment Awards respectively in 2014. She also won the 2014 MTV Africa Music Awards as the “Best Female”.
2015 – 2018
Tiwa Savage released a second studio album “R.E.D” in 2015 with two singles “My Darlin” and “Standing Ovation”. The majority of the production work was handled by the talented, Don Jazzy. As her career kept budding, Tiwa Savage signed a management and publishing deal with Jay-Z’s, “Roc Nation” in 2016. Also performed at his “Made in America” festival in 2017. In 2017, she released her E.P., sugarcane which featured artists such as Ayodeji Balogun (Wizkid), Ben’Jamin Obadje (Spellz), and Maleek Berry.
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Tiwa Savage Theadlined a sold-out show at London’s ‘The 02’ Indigo venue in 2018. The successful year peaked with victory at the 2018 MTV Europe Music Awards as the “Best African Act”. She was the first woman to earn such accolades. After her recognition at the 2018 MTV awards, Tiwa released a track called “One” produced by Killer Tunez. In this track, she expressed her gratitude to her numerous well-wishers. To end the year, Tiwa Savage performed at the 2018 Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100. This event took place at the FNB stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa.
2019 – 2021
Tiwa Savage signed a 7-year publishing and distribution contract with the Universal Music Group in 2019. She left Mavin Records too. Tiwa featured on Beyonce’s soundtrack album The Lion King: The Gift, co-writing a duet with Mr. Eazi called Keys to the Kingdom. Also in September of the same year, she released a single “49-99” (inspired by Fela Kuti) with Univeral Music Group-owned – Motown records. She further released singles, “Attention” and “Owo mi da”, produced by Black Jheerze and Pheelz respectively. Furthermore, Tiwa made an appearance on Coldplay’s 8th Studio album “Everyday Life”, performing background vocals on “Eko”.
In 2020, Tiwa Savage released her 3rd full-length album and her 4th project with the album “Celia” named after her mother featuring guest artists such as Davido, Stefflon Don, and Sam Smith. Fast-forward to 2021, she released her second Extended Project, Water, and Garri. She featured legendary female musician, Brandy in the song “Somebody’s Son”.
Tiwa Savage Relationships
Tiwa Savage has had a lot of criticisms directed toward her. Especially, with respect to whom she had dated at one point or the other. However, Tiwa Savage was legally married to her former manager, Olatunji Balogun in 2013. Now divorced, they produced a handsome young boy called Jamal. Before and after her marriage to her ex-husband, there has been news that Tiwa has dated quite a few men. Most notably artists such as Wizkid, Dr. Sid, her former boss, Don Jazzy, Olamide, and more recently, Naira Marley, declare themselves “Marlian”.
All through her career so far, Tiwa Savage has endured divided opinions about her. But looking positively into Tiwa Savage as a person, she has worked her way to the top without any doubt. She is an inspirational success story to aspiring artists looking to put themselves out there for recognition. Tiwa Savage is a Nigerian Music Industry legend and we sincerely hope she can stay at the top for a very long time. Thanks for reading.