The emergence of Afrobeats on the global music market, as well as the exponential growth of several music genres across the continent over the past year is a breath of fresh air. It is testament to the collective hard work and creative prowess of all key players within Africa’s music space.
The 3Music Awards have always found a way to acknowledge the contributions of the marginalized in music- especially women. In 2020, the awards established the 3Music Women’s Brunch initiative to not only commemorate International Women’s Day but to celebrate and highlight the achievements of women in industry. Every year the Women’s Brunch is also used to amplify the issues women in the creative industry face.
The Top 50 Women in Music (Africa) which emerged from the 3Music Awards Women’s Brunch is a nod in the same direction, focusing on bringing to light the unsung accomplishments of women who have heralded the invasion of African music on the world stage through creating, enabling and amplifying music.
The annual 3Music Awards highlights the Top 50 most influential women in music each year as a significant feature of the Awards. This year’s release coincides with International Women’s Day celebration making a strong case for breaking the bias with the stories and capabilities of the women who made the list.
The scheme gives credit to women who mainly stood out with their creativity, endeavour and impact, or, in a few cases, exploited their music platform for social good. Accomplishments within the year under review were prioritized, although some retrospective achievements were also considered based on their resonating or sustained effect on music in Africa today.
The initiative is recognition and honour of the standout achievements of female creatives and accessories with the African music space. It is also an intricate gazette of the contributions of women who through excellence in diversified fields of music have propelled the evolution and growth of the African music industry within the year under review.
After several months of research, rigorous scrutiny, analytics and consideration of unquantifiable service to music, we present to you the creators, enablers and amplifiers who have made a difference in the music sphere- in honour of women.
YouTube’s Addy Awofisayo rose through the ranks to her present seat as Head of Music, Sub-Saharan Africa. Her contributions to establishing YouTube’s monopoly on the African streaming markets has generated greater value for artists, and even greater visibility.
Addy gained valuable expertise in Business Development for Content Development and Partnerships while working at CBS, which experience she has successfully brought to bear in her work at YouTube. Since occupying the role in 2021, nearly 80% of YouTube usage in Africa has been music-related, effectively establishing the platform as a music service.
Several millions of Africans use the streaming platform daily, with over a billion views garnered weekly. Music videos from Africa continue to receive massive patronage from outside the continent too thanks to Addy Awofisayo’s exertions for YouTube.
Award-winning Amaarae is fast becoming Africa’s finest export to the world with her amazing streaming numbers for genre-defying music, and pop culture impact. She is in fact the continent’s queen of Spotify, and the globe’s reference for Alté music and eccentric lifestyle.
The Ghanaian entertainer raises the bar for branding and sway in music with her distinct vocals, peculiar sound, intrepid videos and revolutionary fashion. She may just be the closest Africa has ever had to the great Michael Jackson, with several conspicuous parallels.
The scrupulous singer always projects holistic musical art with an exceptional dedication to pop culture, a quirky worldview and, honestly, very good era-defining music.
Hers is a powerful testimonial of what women bring to music, already thrusting the young music career of the remarkable Amaarae at the heart of contemporary African music folklore.
Africa’s greatest living female artiste continues to go from strength after four decades in music. Angelique Kidjo scored three more nominations at the Grammys this year, following up on her fourth [4th] Grammy win last year. Winning it in 2021 also established her as the first African to win three different Grammys in three different decades this millennium. Her exertions and accomplishments in music, theatre, pop culture, advocacy and activism are well-documented. Repeating them here may just be insolent to an icon of her stature.
Malian-French singer Aya Nakamura may just become the first musician born on this continent to hit a billion views for a music video with her classic Djadja. She is outrightly the most streamed African artiste today, partly thanks to her French influence, but largely due to her suave Pop artistry. She won Artiste of the Year at the Apple Music Awards last year, adding up to various distinguished awards and prominent international nominations like the BET, MTV, All Africa and the RNJ Music Awards. Nakamura is a double platinum-selling artiste. She became the first African-born female singer to top the European charts in 2018 following the release of her sophomore self-titled album which also topped several charts in numerous Francophone nations on the continent. The lead single from her third studio album was also certified gold following its release last year, spending two weeks at the summit of the French charts.
AYRA STARR [Most Impactful Teenager in African Music]Teenage sensation Ayra Starr broke all manner of records with her debut single, Bloody Samaritan. The song, in 2021, became the most played song by a teenager in African music history. It was the second-highest streamed song of the year and peaked at No.1 on several charts in Africa, becoming the first solo by a female act to do so. The song also penetrated the European and American markets, peaking Top 20 on Billboard. It helped to establish Ayra as Africa’s brightest newcomer, and Starr of the new school.
BETH ACHITSA [Artiste and Label Relations Manager; The Orchard]When the Sony-owned music distribution company, The Orchard, announced that they had signed Beth Achitsa as Artiste and Label Relations Manager earlier in 2022, the entertainment skies aligned and the music gods popped champagne.
It had to be her, didn’t it, if anyone was paying attention to Africa at all. Beth Achitsa keeps beneath the soles of her feet years of experience across diversified fields in music.
She has served as a Production lead for the East Africa Music summit, worked with the Lola Kenya Screen Festival, amid other roles as a Tour Manager, Conference Planner, as well as writer and Marketing Communications specialist on African music- especially from East Africa.
BENEWAAH BOATENG [Manager; Spotify West Africa -Anglophone]Benewaah Boateng is not your orthodox music executive. She gets paid for her passion, and would almost certainly have done it for free. Thankfully, a polymath of her stature leads the African music revolution at Spotify West Africa, where she serves as Manager for the Anglophone community.
In Ghana she made her name as a music enthusiast with a passion for finding emerging musicians and marketing strategies across Africa. She founded the Harmattan Rain platform to document prospective hits and hitmakers, and curate exciting playlists from the talents and creations she unearthed.
Soon she was working as a music business consultant and marketing lead for Universal Music. She would also go on to curate playlists for the biggest global streaming platforms, including Apple Music.
Benewaah Boateng has dedicated the best part of her adult life creating global opportunities for African music creators and invaluable services to music brands, executives and consumers. She has been extremely helpful in creating global prospects for music from Anglophone Africa.
BUKOLA SAWYER IZIOGU [Founder & CEO; BukiHQ Media]Popular on-air personality, PR & Media Relations expert, Bukola, is the founder and CEO of BukiHQ Media. BukiHQ Media is one of the premier PR firms in music show business. Bukola provides personal brand solutions and other strategic marketing communications services to her clients. She counts the likes of BurnaBoy, Asa, 2Baba, M.I, Seyi Shay among her list of clients. The seasoned music business magnate has also served on the Board of one of the most successful record labels in West Africa, Chocolate City Music, as well as the Lagos Jazz Series Festivals.
BOSE OGULU [Executive, Spaceship Collective]Bose Ogulu is the manager and mother of the Grammy-winning artiste Burna Boy. She is known in music circles for her impact on the career of, perhaps, Africa’s biggest music export of the 21st century.
Mama Burna, as Bose is affectionately called, heads Spaceship Collective, proprietors of the flagship Spaceship Entertainment record label and publishing division.
Her work with Burna Boy did not only yield several international awards, including the BET and the Grammy, but etched Afrobeats into the echelons of global music.
BUSISWA [Music Culture, Literature & Film Excellence]Busiswa has blessed Kwaito, Dance and, recently, Amapiano with her outstanding creativity and fire material. It makes sense that her loaded literature stems from a background of poetry. These days, as part of a commitment to the Art for Humanity [AfH] foundation, she provides workshops on Poetry and Visual Arts Development for young people.
In ten years, she has established herself as a perennial force at the biggest Awards events, earning numerous nominations at the MTV Africa Music Awards, Channel O, and the South African Music Awards. She also received universal acclaim for her work on Beyoncé’s six-time Grammy-nominated audiovisual album.
Busiswa was one of the most influential artistes of 2021 in terms of radio play dominance and streaming credits, earning over a 100million streams across all DSPs. She is the best performing female artiste from Southern Africa, streaming platinum numbers for every single song she touched last year.
CHARLOTTE BWANA [Head of Media and Brand, Audiomack Africa]With ten years experience of the African music market, Charlotte Bwana is the Head of Media and Brand Partnerships for Audiomack in Africa. She was instrumental in facilitating Audiomack’s invasion of the continent, and its ascent to one of the elite music streaming platforms in the space.
Charlotte orchestrated strategic partnerships with youth-driven brands like Afrochella, Ziiki Media, and YFM [South Africa & Ghana]. She pulled off a masterstroke when she brokered a deal with telecom giants MTN that made music and content on the platform free to more than eighty  million users through the partnership.
Charlotte has directly impacted African music appeal and reach. By making music publishing and access free for creators and consumers in the continent’s biggest market and talent factory, she laid the groundwork for a greater global impact of African music.
CHIOMA ONUCHUKWU [Team Lead for Tunecore- East and West Africa]Chioma Onuchukwu is one of Africa’s most popular music executives. She was appointed as Head of TuneCore for West and East Africa in 2021.
Her work has helped establish the brand as one of Africa’s biggest independent music distribution platforms, offering trusted services to creators and music fanatics.
Chioma supports budding music creators to build audiences and careers through the exploiting of digital distribution, publishing and promotional services. She has worked with A-list African stars like Davido, Yemi Alade and Patoranking.
CINDY SANYU [Musician & President of the Uganda Music Association]Singer cum Music Executive Cindy Sanyu sits as the President of the Uganda Music Association these days, transforming it from an agency of chaos to one of the Top 10 best run music associations in Africa.
Elected as Vice President of the Union by her contemporaries, Cindy put a new marriage and pregnancy on the line and stepped up to lead an industry bedeviled with chaos and subversion during a season of turmoil which also led to the resignation of her predecessor.
Looking out for the good of creatives, she oversaw an unprecedented registration of all professionals in the space to pave way for equity in the payment of royalties.
Cindy runs the position alongside a highly successful music career in its 20th year, which last year also brought an International Collaboration of the Year at the South Sudan Music Awards to add to a glittering career littered with many high-profile international honours.
In 2016 she won Best Artiste (East Africa) at the AFRIMA to become one of only two female acts to earn separate international nominations both as a solo artiste and member of a music group for her exploits with one of Africa’s most revered girl-bands, Blu 3.
And oh, her screen debut in 2018 also earned her an award for Best Actor at the Uganda Film Festival and a nomination at the Africa Movie Academy Awards. Phew. Cindy means light. Cindy Sanyu may just be the brightest light from East Africa yet.
DIANA HAMILTON [First Female Gospel Artiste of the Year winner]Being the reigning Artiste of the Year in the third biggest music industry on the continent is no mean feat. Being only the second female artiste to do it is even bigger. Even more impressive is to do it as the only nominated Gospel artiste in the category.
To put it in perspective, Diana Hamilton became only the second person to ever win the category on two fronts- as a woman, and also as a Gospel artiste in more than two decades. She will go down in history as the first female Gospel artiste to achieve the feat, a very rare occurrence at the most important awards shows on the continent.
Her spirit-filled songwriting, impressive live vocals and exceptional stagecraft continue to lead the way for women in African entertainment and the Gospel space. Her impressive streaming numbers, one of the highest in West Africa for a female, is evidence of Diana’s successful exertions in resuscitating the appeal for Gospel music.
DJ SWITCH [Music for Good Credit]Nigeria’s DJ Switch demonstrated Music for good in November 2020 when she livestreamed the now infamous shooting of civilians staging a protest against the government near the Lekki tollgate.
The shootings, allegedly on the instructions of the higher-ups, occurred when the military fired several rounds into the protesting crowd in a well-orchestrated ploy which also involved the use of deliberate power outage to avoid filming.
Thankfully DJ Switch was on hand, feeding the aftermath of the shootings live via social media. Her feed was tapped by numerous international media, including the BBC and CNN, leading to a massive global outrage against the perpetrators of such cowardly social injustice.
Breaking onto the music scene in 2009, Switch first came to Africa’s attention for winning two separate reality show competitions, first as a member of a group and then as a solo act. She also signed to Sony Music a few years after departing the music group with which she released the revered So Tey single that also featured international rapper Busta Rhymes on the remix. However, it was the Lekki livestream which truly marked her out from her contemporaries, setting DJ Switch apart that year, and forever.
ENO BARONY [First Female to win Rapper of the Year at a major national music event]Rapper Eno Barony in 2021 became the first female in Africa to win Rapper of the Year or its equivalent at an important national music awards event. It also made her only the seventh female in the world to accomplish that feat, following in the footsteps of legends like Lauryn Hill, Missy Elliott and Queen Latifah.
In Ghana, the story of how Eno’s strict Missionary parents had been pained when she revealed her career choice to them a decade ago is well documented. Her late mother, in desperate heartbreak had asked her, “Which is easier for a lady, becoming a doctor or a successful rapper?”
She won her first international award in 2020 at the AFRIMMA, being adjudged the Best Female Rapper in Africa. And then she stopped fighting women and started beating the men. When she historically won the Best Rapper of the Year at the 3Music Awards, and then its equivalent Best Rap Performance of the Year at the Ghana Music Awards, she was the only female in both category lists.
Afro Hip Hop Legend Reggie Rockstone has described her as “an inspirational rapper of her generation” and “one of the greatest rappers of our time whose tag of female rapper has done her more harm than good”, while Okyeame Kwame described her as “The best rapper around currently”. Rival Sarkodie labeled her as “a coequal, a rap titan who cannot in any way be discredited because she is a female”. These days Eno Barony is not breaking her parent’s hearts and lowering expectations. She is breaking records and setting standards for women in music.
GHITA KHALDI [Founder; Afrikayna]Ghita Khaldi is a board member on Africa’s most important online music portal, Music in Africa. She is a music production and technical control expert with an in-depth knowledge of music and arts. She founded the Casablanca-based intercultural association Afrikayna, an Arabic portmanteau for ‘Africa is here’. Afrikayna is dedicated to aligning Northern African music with the rest of Africa, while providing mobility funds in support of African artistes.
She also exploits her role as Production and Co-ordination lead at some of North Africa’s biggest arts and culture festivals to promote African music- especially ones of Northern African origin.
Gina Ella Nettey’s work is unusual but fundamental. She offers bespoke logistics services for music events. She founded Genet Services, an events management agency and Ghana’s foremost logistics and equipment firm which has for many years catered for the biggest entertainment events in Africa’s third-best music industry.
Genet Services is also the brain behind the Women in Worship Concert, one of the most exceptional Christian music concerts in West Africa. The platform also celebrates the accomplishments of women each year in the Gospel music space.
GYAKIE [Record setting debut for a teenager]Not many teenagers score a buzz as feverish as Gyakie did with her Forever single, off her highly successful debut EP Seed. The song was very well- received across Africa, topping several high profile charts such as the Billboard and Shazam, and making her one of the only teenage ladies from Africa to achieve the feat.
In 2021 she signed to Sony Music, the second biggest recording and publishing franchise in the world, again becoming only the second teenager from Africa to do so.
Gyakie’s performance video and the live delivery by Highlife ace Nana Acheampong at the 3Music Awards ’21 was also very symbolic as it was the first time on the continent that a father and child had performed on separate sets at the same music awards event.
IBUKUN AIBEE ABIDOYE [Executive President, Chocolate City Group]Aibee has been at Chocolate City for a decade, overseeing the label’s music business and strategy. The label caters for award-winning stars like MI Abaga and DJ Lambo among others. Aibee is famous for coordinating that unprecedented partnership between Warner Music Group and Chocolate City Group that sparked the fire which set music from Africa’s biggest industry ablaze.
JADE LEAF [Head of Tunecore, Southern Africa]Former Marketing Manager for Youth and Music Channels at Multichoice Jade Leaf was appointed Head of Tunecore for Southern Africa. While at Multichoice, Jade was directly responsible for the marketing and commercial successes of prominent music television brand, Channel O.
Jade also worked at Sony Music Entertainment Africa, where she drove numerous marketing campaigns for several artistes and content. She helped establish Tunecore as arguably the most trusted digital DIY music distribution services in Southern Africa, leading to commercial success for hundreds of musicians, as well as a huge representation of Southern African music in the global music market.
JADE POLLOCK [World-Class Music Business Specialist]Jade Pollock is a world-class music business specialist and manager of Wizkid, one of Africa’s top three music brands today. She met Wizkid whilst managing global icon, Chris Brown. She has also managed stars like Pia Mia and Akon. Jade is an expert in Marketing & PR, Brand Management, Project Management and Content strategy, but her best work yet still remains establishing Grammy award-winning Wizkid at the top of global music.
After helping Wizkid crack the American and British markets, Billboard named her as its “Executive of the week’ in September 2021. Jade was the driving force behind the rise of the Afrobeats star to chart-topping success on the world’s foremost music chart platform.
Jade Pollock may be American although she stays in Ghana these days since becoming a mother to Wizkid’s third baby. Her contributions to the rise of Afrobeats and holistic impact on African music excellence cannot be understated.
JENNIFER IMION [Director of operations, Mavin Global]Jenifer Imion spearheads recruitment and enterprise at Mavin Global, the parent company of Mavin Records which has expedited the careers of several African music superstars.
Her responsibilities also include managing talents, music content creation, as well as business partnerships and dealings.
JUDIKAY [Leading Gospel Act for streaming credits]It’s impossible to credit contemporary Gospel greatness without acknowledging the impact of Judikay over the past few years. She is just a Gospel hit-making factory.
No single Gospel act has bigger hits in the Gospel music today than her. None have owned the digital space with such effortless grace this calendar like she has.
Her presence is felt, her songs reverberate, and her numbers shout at you. She averages 10 million views for every music video released in the last year and half, scoring over 300 million streams across audio streaming platforms in that time.
LYZA NTIAMOAH [Country Manager; Boomplay Ghana]The rise of Lyza Ntiamoah in the music space has coincided with Ghana’s own rise in world music. She is the country manager at Boomplay Ghana, and an expert in music marketing, management, and business.
Lyza has used her expertise and music acumen to refine music show business, creating immeasurable value for the Ghanaian music brand.
Ghana music aggregated the highest rise in terms of percentile impact and streaming numbers in 2021, becoming the third fastest-growing industry in the world and a global go-to plug for music.
Ranked among the top 10 for global music appeal, Lyza’s work has been central to positioning Ghana as a major music tourism destination. Under Lyza’s stewardship, Boomplay has offered much needed funding and support to aid artiste projects like EP and Album launches, concerts and tours.
Lyza has also established Boomplay as a key supporter for music events, a corporate industrial responsibility initiative that has been rare and lacking in the Ghanaian music space. She has been instrumental in activating the careers of several continental newcomers such as Wendy Shay, Celestine Donkor, Mr. Drew and Dopenation.
No wonder Lyza’s Boomplay is the nation’s favorite digital streaming platform. Thanks to her efforts, Ghanaian music has truly gone global, offering music creatives their work’s worth.
MARRIT JENSEN [Regional Manager for Africa; Linkfire]Maritt Araba Biney Jensen is the Regional Manager for music marketing platform Linkfire. She oversees the promotion of local music and artistes by fostering strong business development strategies to promote consumer connections in Africa.
One of her most notable accomplishments was directly spearheading the groundbreaking partnerships with heavyweight labels Chocolate City and Mavin Records, which have significantly leveraged the company’s user gains in the very competitive music streaming services market.
Maritt’s appointment has coincided with increased traffic from the African market, with millions of users purportedly signing up to the platform monthly.
Thanks to her acumen and astuteness, she has overseen massive gains for the African region, especially for artistes and labels. This has directly resulted in the promotion, empowerment of African music, and the offering of massive growth opportunities for the region’s music markets.
MARTHA HURO [Managing Director, Boomplay East Africa]She might just be the single greatest female contributor to the growth of East African music. Martha Huro is a digital marketing specialist with a demonstrated experience in digital optimization.
She is the Boomplay Managing Director for East Africa and General Manager for Kenya. The ever-increasing usage of the platform and digital visibility of East African music content and creators have been hinged on Martha’s knack for fruitful partnerships, groundbreaking strategies, as well as the use of proficient music curation and artiste support mechanisms.
Martha Huro offers consultancy and support to emerging music brands on effective digital publishing strategies. This has been essential in the advancement of music from the Eastern Africa region and beyond, creating value for several players within the East African Industry.
MAIMOUNA DEMBÉLÉ [Deputy Board Chair; Music in Africa]Maimouna Dembélé is a senior communications expert, media maven, creative industry specialist, music marketing and PR specialist, cultural activist, and perhaps most significantly, a leading authority on African music.
She sits as deputy chair on the Board of Music in Africa, the continent’s most influential online Information Centre for African music. Maimouna Dembélé continues to use her vast experience and wealthy expertise to promote music and pop culture, preserve African music history and to keep the world informed on African endeavour and accomplishments in music.
MERCY CHINWO [Award-winning International Gospel Artiste]Mercy Chinwo is an award-winning international Gospel act. She first came to prominence when she won Season 2 of the Nigerian Idol music reality show in 2012.
She is one of the most dominant, most consistent, and most streamed Gospel artistes across all credits of the last couple of years, releasing at least seven hits in that time, including three during this calendar. Chinwo has lost none of her gloss, while her retrospective accomplishments in music still echo today.
Her numbers made the Top five for most streamed Gospel Acts 2021, meaning that she deservedly earns her place among the season’s finest females. You know what they say. It would be impossible to make a list of shining objects and overlook the sun.
MPUMI PHILIPS [Director of Distribution, The Orchard]Mpumi Philips is a media maven with more than 20 years of music industry experience. She did some of her best work as a music supervisor at Sheer Publishing, where she helped sync music to films and adverts.
She is currently the director of distribution for the Sony-owned digital distribution company, The Orchard. Her work includes connecting music creators and labels to consumers by offering a platform which delivers maximum returns without hindering creative freedom.
NADIA NAKAI [Artiste of the Year- Zimbabwe; Trendsetter for Music Fashion & Style]Zimbabwe’s artiste of the year Nadia Nakai broke all sorts of records in 2018/19 when she also became the first female to win Best Artiste in Hip Hop at the All Africa Music Awards. In half a decade, she has won six out of 14 awards she has been eligible, including the Best Female Act in Southern Africa at both the SA Hip Hop Awards and the All Africa Music Awards.
Chic Nadia is arguably the continent’s most vogue artiste, constantly setting standards in fashion, style and stagecraft. She has an award to show for it too having won Most Stylish Performer in Music at the SA Style Awards as recently as last year.
Nadia became one of only two female artistes to be nominated for Artiste of the Decade at the Southern Africa Hip Hop Awards, along with contemporary Gigi Lamayne. Nadia, like Lamayne, also has a real chance of winning the keenly contested 14-member shortlisted category. It is the strongest indicator yet of her success, consistency, impact and dominance as a female artiste in the African Hip Hop genus.
NATASHA STAMBULI [General Manager Transsnet Music Ltd; Boomplay – TZ]Music is Natasha Stambuli’s superpower. The skies were made for birds. The soil was made for trees. Natasha was made for African music. As the Country Manager for Transsnet Music Ltd in Tanzania, she has overseen the explosion of a music streaming culture which has culminated in a growth of 5 million users since Natasha took the role. The bona fide music industrialist is reputed as East Africa’s leading digital influencer for her work with global establishments like the UN, as well as many other top digital media agencies.
Natasha Stambuli’s strong dedication to promoting East African music made it the highest-grossing region at the AFRIMA, besides West Africa, justifying her win at the World Women Leadership Congress and Awards 2019. She also sits graciously on the Africa List, which is a selected community of next generation CEO s in Africa’s most exciting growth markets.
OLADUNNIE ‘DUNNIE’ LAWAL [Music Producer, Singer & Songwriter]All hail Oladunnie Lawal. Queen of beats. Maker of hits. Vocalist extraordinaire. Singer and songwriter. First of her kind. Dunnie is arguably the most outstanding female beatmaker on the continent. She is also a fairly successful recording artiste in her own right, dropping two well-received singles in the calendar.
Remember Becca’s No One hitbanger which featured Busiswa and DWP academy? Mmm hmm, that was Dunnie that time on the beats. The exceptional beat-making artist has also earned production credits on content from some of the continent’s finest, including Yemi Alade, Wande Coal, Sean Tizzle, Buju, Sarz, and Focalist, as well as brands like Ciroc, Oppo and Maggi.
“When I started producing beats, people did not take me seriously. They thought it was cute but nothing serious… It was sort of sexist” Dunnie says in an interview published on YouTube in March 2021 that tells a lot about the perspectives and struggles of women in music, especially her sphere of work.
The trailblazing producer also has a lot of credit in the bag for her music career too. It was Dunnie’s song for real, that Overdose Remix with Oxlade. In 2021, she also dropped the not-talked-about-enough Mosafejo song. That’s just so you know how much of a good artiste, vocalist and song writer she is.
OLUYEMISI FALAYE [Legal Authority on Entertainment]Oluyemisi is a famed legal consultant and reputed as West Africa’s foremost entertainment lawyer. She offers legal representation and counsel to some of the biggest names in African entertainment.
Her expertise stretches across all legal aspects of music show business, including entertainment law, intellectual property law and general music business law. Her clients include top stars like Adekunle Gold and Wande Coal.
OSAGIE OSARENZ [Country Manager, Nigeria- ONErpm]Osagie Osarenz is a talent manager with more than ten years of music business experience. She worked for Empire Mates Entertainment [EME], one of West Africa’s first truly global record labels. She is credited with spotting global superstar Wizkid, and has also shaped the careers of many top artistes like Banky W, Skales, Timaya, Reekado Banks, Kel and Laycon.
In 2021 she took up a job as the country manager for Nigeria’s ONE-rpm, a digital distribution service consumer- engagement platform.
Osagie Osarenz has provided a platform for nearly hundred thousand musicians to be heard and visibility for music video creators, labels and music content publishers in Nigeria. Her innovative methods have driven global esteem for the African music industry. She is recognized as one of the biggest contributors to the global impact of the Afrobeats genre, working these days with stars like Flavour, Timaya, and Bella Shmurda on the ONErpm roster.
OUMOU SANGARÉ [UNESCO Music Prize & Grammy Award Winner]Grammy Award-winning Malian musician OumouSangaré is a symbol for women in music all over the world. The UNESCO International Music prize conferred on her last year was perhaps late recognition for many years of unparalleled contribution to African music development and advocacy.
At age five , she performed to a packed crowd in a stadium before touring the world at 16 with a percussion band she belonged to. She has played at nearly every major International Music festival too. These days she is an ambassador of the FAO and her motherland, particularly the Wassoulou region. She is a renowned advocate for social justice as well as women and children’s rights.
OumouSangaré is also a very successful entrepreneur, with involvement in real estate, agriculture and the automobile industry. To inspire a spirit of excellence in women, she personally helped in the construction of her own hotel in the centre of Mali’s capital and launched her own vehicle brand a decade ago.
OYINKANSOLA FAWEHINMI [President, Digital Music Commerce & Exchange Ltd. Nigeria]Award-winning lawyer and music business executive Oyinkansola Fawehinmi has distinguished herself in Africa as the continent’s foremost music business attorney.
She is the President of the Digital Music Commerce and Exchange Ltd in Nigeria, an organization dedicated to creating value for the African music market through the provision of specialized intellectual property valuation, licensing, administration, and protection services.
Oyinkansola, also sometimes called FozaDoza,offers legal consultancy to her clients on protecting assets, proceeding strategically, effectively monetizing digital music consumption, and exploiting gains in African music show business.
PHIONA OKUMU [Head of Music for Sub-Saharan Africa at Spotify]Phiona Okumu was born to Ugandan parents in Nairobi-Kenya but spent much of her formative years impacted by her experiences of Southern and Northern Africa. It tells in her understanding and appreciation of African music, arts and culture.
Very few people in music share Phiona’s infectious passion for elevating emerging musicians, support artiste development and create the right environment for the ideal music ecosystem. It’s the foundation of her success at Spotify, where she has a digital music market widely acclaimed as the most essential to African music development.
QUEEN NWORISARA-QUINN [Board Member; Mavin Global]The analytics and business intelligence expert sits on the board of Mavin Records, one of the biggest record labels in Africa. Queen Nworisara-Quinn was instrumental in the transformation of the label into a holistic creative business. Mavin Global has expedited the international careers of at least ten A-list stars through her input and endeavour.
REBECCA INYANG JUNAID [Founder; JoJo Entertainment]Seasoned entertainment entrepreneur continues to set the standard for music publishing, licensing and promotion here in Africa. British-born Nigerian Rebecca Junaid navigates the artiste management space better than any other.She has survived gender discrimination, client clashes and varying forms of prejudice to establish herself on her perch as a music mogul and constant to guaranteed success.
Rebecca has on her roster a formidable line-up of continental superstars, including Yemi Alade, Tekno, Adekunle Gold, Teni, Selebobo, and DJ Spinall. Apart from offering services and consultancy in music business, she is also shown a strong dedication and willingness to offer free thought leadership on music show business to industry prospects.
SIMI [Best performing female for digital streaming credits]Neo Soul star Simi is one of the best performing African artistes of 2021 chalking over 100 million streams across all credits. Her Duduke single was one of the biggest pop songs of the calendar, making her the most in-demand female act. She also emerged Top 5 for most streamed female artistes in Africa across all DSPs.
Her distinct vocal range, impeccable songwriting, and less talked-about sound engineering proficiency sets Simi apart from any other female in the game. The Award-winning crooner keeps fives Headies’ in her cabinet- Best Record, Best Collaboration, Best R&B single, Best Vocal Performance and Best Album- testament to her rounded prowess and vocal dexterity. Apart from winning Best Song writer at the AFRIMA in 2016, her lyrics have also been studied as part of College academic writing in Nigeria.
As a sound engineer, she is also credited with mixing and mastering her husband Adekunle Gold’s successful debut album which ushered the star to seven awards. Both also won Best Act West Africa in their respective gender category at the AFRIMMA last year, the first couple to ever do so in an international music scheme. And yep, the singer also has a greater social media following than any West African musician beyond her native Nigeria to show for her massive appeal.
SINACH [Queen of Contemporary African Gospel]Sinach is Gospel Africa’s first truly global superstar. She has toured nearly every continent, playing to packed crowds and loud sing-alongs to all of her biggest hits. Several of her songs have been covered by hugeglobal icons and translated to many languages.
Her songs consistently score platinum streaming traffic, making her the only Gospel Artiste on the continent to make the Top 10 across all DSPs.
In 2021 she became the first Gospel artiste from Africa to be recognized by the US Congress, a year after that unprecedented achievement of becoming the only African to win the highest honour at the GMA Dove Awards- Gospel’s equivalent to the Grammys.
Sinach dropped two separate albums last year- one live and one studio recorded, which both went on to record Top 10 streaming numbers for an African Gospel album, making full proof of her versatility, influence and dominance in the terrain.
For good measure, she is the first Gospel artiste on the continent to top the Billboard Chart for Christian Songwriters. That’s why Sinach remains the continent’s most influential contemporary Gospel act.
STEPHANIE ADAMU [Marketing Manager; Empire]Stephanie Adamu is originally a Talent Management, Marketing Communications & PR expert. She served in an International Marketing capacity for Universal Music, before assuming her current role as the Marketing Manager for Africa and the Diaspora at Empire, the world’s foremost comprehensive digital media distribution company.
Stephanie leverages her role to execute digital development initiatives in music and show business for the hottest hits and most phenomenal prospects originating from the region.
When Stephanie Adamu woke up to a text from arguably Africa’s biggest female act a few years ago, she knew it was a subtle clarion call to save African music. In that text, Tiwa had called her a ‘blessing’ and ‘part of the history’ of a career she ‘would have walked out’ on.
That’s how Stephanie’s calling for African music, particularly Afrobeats, truly began.
It inspired her founding of the Stefi K Branding & PR Agency which has proven pivotal in establishing Afrobeats as the world’s most trendy music genre in terms of appeal.
Through her endeavour, she has exploited digital opportunities to aggrandize African music and create millions of dollars in value for musicians and events.
TEMI ADENIJI [Managing Director, Warner Music- South Africa]Temi Adeni is the Managing Director for Warner Music South Africa, and senior Vice President for Strategy, Sub-Saharan Africa. She is a trained lawyer, music business expert, and avid music enthusiast.
The core of her business is centred on talent scouting, astutely valuing music products and genres in the short and middle term, as well as liaising with digital streaming platforms to protect the business needs of her company and its clients.
Temi has helped advance many unsung creators and genres originating from Africa, and bring them to the heart of world music.
In 2021, Tems encroached the US charts with a Top 40 appearance on Billboard, following her collaborations with icons like Drake, Wizkid and Justin Bieber. Her collaboration with the latter reached the Top 10, and earner her a Grammy nomination.
Tems is one of the biggest streaming female artistes today. Her numbers are so high they could probably fill a phonebook. Her second EP released last year reached Top Ten on the Billboard World Albums Chart. The award-winng rapper has also scored nominations in nearly every major international awards scheme since her career debuted in 2018.
THERESA AYOADE [Co-Founder and CEO of Charterhouse]Theresa Ayoade has been at the heart of everything good about Ghana music in recent times. The country owes a huge chunk of music’s global success in the 21st century to her contributions to Ghanaian music over the past decade.
She co-founded the Charterhouse organization, proprietors of the Ghana music awards. The formation of the awards scheme twenty years ago was one of the first schemes in entertainment to reward excellence annually. It resulted in a huge paradigm shift in mentality, competition and ambition, and created the foundations which heralded the successes of latter generations.
The clear, construction and visionary ideas and leadership Theresa brought to bear when she took over the mantle as CEO of Charterhouse have also cemented the scheme as one of the biggest awards shows on the continent.
TIWA SAVAGE [Revolutionary Female Act for Contemporary African Music]Tiwa Savage is arguably the queen of contemporary music in Africa. She was the first female this decade to get a BET nomination. Savage was twice nominated for Channel O and MTV European Music Awards. She won both once, becoming the first lady debuting within the last decade to achieve the feat. The early achievements of the 42-year old set such the standards for women in entertainment and consequently inspired the invasion of more ambitious women in the space.
In 2019, Tiwa Savage departed the biggest record label in Nigeria when she signed a record deal with Universal Music Group, the biggest music company in the world. The singer reluctantly opted to leak a sextape involving her to evade extortion and blackmail.
Determined to not make it the biggest story of her year, she released the smash hit Somebody’s Son which broke streaming numbers in the year for a secular female act, cementing her perch as the leader of the pack.
TOSIN SORINOLA [Director of Artist & Media Relations, Boomplay]The seasoned music business executive is an expert in digital activation, music business marketing, and strategic planning. She first worked as a campus radio host, exploiting her role to create opportunities in music for creative prospects.
Within the digital music streaming sector, she first served as a Marketing Manager at top digital streaming service, Spinlet, where she led the brokerage and execution of partnership deals with renowned brands like Etisalat and Uber.
She joined Boomplay in 2015, rising through the ranks to occupy her current position as the Director of Artistes and Media Relations. In her current role, she was instrumental to the growth of Boomplay, driving the monthly active usage of the platform to over 60 million.
She also orchestrated numerous groundbreaking partnerships with global brands like Universal , Warner Music, Sony Music and the Billboard charts.
VANNESSA AMADI [Owner; VA: PR]Vanessa Amadi-Ogbonna is an entertainment management and PR guru. She has not only nurtured the careers of some of the greatest African stars, but has also executed PR campaigns for several black American and European entertainers like Usher, Neyo, Ciara and the late great Whitney Houston.
Vannessa orchestrated the international success of African music legend D’banj, driving the marketing campaign which helped his song Oliver Twist to break through the UK Market and encroach the Top 10 of the UK Charts, the highest an Afrobeats song has ever peaked till date. She founded VA-PR Management, the music licensing, events and entertainment company which respresents A-list stars like Davido and Tiwa Savage.
YEMI ALADE [Most Outstanding African Female in Contemporary Music]Yemi Alade is one of the biggest artistes in Africa and pound-for-pound the most outstanding African female in contemporary music and arts. She ticks all the boxes for impact, dominance, awards, records, streaming credits, popularity, presence and advocacy.
Her platinum selling debut album featured the smash hit Johnny, which became Africa’s first video by a contemporary female secular act to reach 100,000,000 views on YouTube. Her instagram following is also the highest for an African female.
She breathes awards, earning at least 30 direct nominations at some of the biggest local and international awards in just eight years. She received consecutive BETnominations in 2014 and 15, became the first person to consecutively win the Best Female category at the MAMAs and to be nominated for the Best Artiste of the Year category, as well as to be nominated for the MTV Europe Music Awards. Yemi Alade’s achievements and weight in African music is not in doubt. Listing them all could make a printer run out of ink.
Mariam (Amadou & Mariam) [First Blind singer from Africa to earn Grammy Nomination]Couple goals don’t come as big as Amadou and Mariam. This is the story of love, music and dreams. It is the legend of a blind Malian couple who went on to impact the world through music.
Mariam was that unlucky child who ultimately found lasting love and fulfillment through music. She lost her sight at five  but refused to give up her vision and dreams.
The visually impaired crooner first met her husband while both performed at Mali’s institute for the Young Blind. That was the beginning of a surreal journey into global prominence and durable love.
Mariam and her husband have since toured the world, headlined many of its biggest festivals, performed at the Nobel Peace Prize, composed the anthem for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, performed at the 2010 edition’s opening ceremony, created the most played French single of 2009, and earned several international recognitions.
The platinum-selling musical couple also earned for themselves a Grammy nomination for their classic studio album, Welcome to Mali.
Collaborating on the classic, Mon Cheri, and headlining four different festivals across the world made Mariam Doumbia the most consistent musical wife in Africa, maintaining relevance for an unprecedented 40 year period with the same partner- privately and professionally.
NADIA MUKAMI [Nominee; MTV Africa Music Awards]Kenya’s Nadia Mukami has made herself impossible to ignore since truly coming of age in 2019. She scored ten major hits in three years, while being featured on another three in the period. Her very impressive streaming numbers have established her firmly at the forefront of African entertainment.
Subsequently, she received her first nomination at the MTV Africa Music Awards in 2021, having been involved on five hit songs that calendar. She has since dropped two more international bangers in just the last three months. Phew.
NANDI MADIDA [Music Literature, Television and Film Excellence]Nandi is one of the most gifted personalities on music television. She is a successful singer, model, dancer, actress and television personality with a law background.
At 14 years, she released her first studio album while signed to the world famous Universal Music Group, before going on to host a teen entertainment show. She also co-hosted the music reality series, Coke Studio, and black entertainment television journal BET A-List before her 19th birthday.
The beautiful entertainer starred alongside Beyoncé in the Grammy-nominated musical film Black is King which garnered universal acclaim following its release in 2020.
Mrs. Madida played Nala, a key supporting act role in a film where illustrious names like Naomi Campbell, Lupita Nyong’o, Kelly Rowland and Jay Z all guest-starred. That same year, she won Best Collaboration at SAMA 26 for the smash hit Say You Will.
After ten years in music, she announced in 2021 a long overdue break from the space to spend some more time with her two young children and cater to her husband. Of course she left a parting shot, having released new single Organic, a hot favorite on curated playlists for dance music.
SAMPA THE GREAT [Award-winning African music loyalist]Zambian-born, Botswana-raised, Australian-based rapper Sampa the Great is widely recognized as one of the world’s finest female rappers today.
Despite being in the game for only six years, she has already won a whopping nineteen awards, debuted on the ARIA Albums Chart, and shared a stage with world-acclaimed entertainers like Joey Bada$$, Thundercat and Kendrick Lamar.
The rapper became the first artiste to win the biggest Australian music prize twice in 2020, performing at the awards virtually through a video-link to Botswana. In her acceptance speech, she lambasted the ARIA Board for a perceived discrimination against ethnic minorities, having been overlooked for awards consideration the previous year.
Africa applauded the rapper in 2021, when despite being touted as “Australia’s own”, she publicly announced her pride in her African roots which had been fundamental to inspiring her music. She also went on to promote her new single “Never forget” which strongly borrows from Zamrock for good measure.
SEYI AWONUGA [Premier Talent and Business Manager]25-year oldSeyiAwonuga, also called ShighLofe, is the founder and label manager of BME. She is reputed as a starmaker due to her penchant for habitually finding and successfully breeding stars. She has aided artistes like Naira Marley and boyfriend, Zlatan Ibile to attain international recognition. She has also aided other high=profile stars like Olamide, Fireboy DML, Peruzzi, and Mayorkun.
WIYAALA [Indegenous music export]It is the sound of awakening in Wiyaala’s songs, the purity of her vocals, and the African spirit she exudes through her brand and personality that has etched her as this generation’s gatekeeper for indigenous African music.
Wiyaala has continued in the legendary footsteps of late greats like Miriam Makeba, Brenda Fassie and Cesária Évora, selling that revered African sound and generating chills globally at the world’s most important music festivals, as that legendary generation once did in their prime.
Hailing from one of the most depraved regions of Ghana, Wiyaala has built an Arts and Culture Centre there to help groom the next generation of native talents and facilitate their own path to greatness.
Wiyaala also works closely with UNICEF and her nation’s Gender, Children and Social Protection Ministry, to advocate for social justice and the protection of women and children’s rights. She has also received global acclaim for propagating black awakening, culture and charity through her music.
YOLANDI VISSER [Founder and member of Africa’s most digitally successful Hip Hop music group]Remember Yolandi Visser from rap-rave group Die Antwoord? Uh huh, the same one. Yolandi Visser was the founder and female vocalist of the group that went on to break all sorts of records for an African Music Video.
Three  of the music videos created by The Alternative Hip Hop duo are in the Top five  for the most streamed African music videos on YouTube, with the collective sum for all music videos reaching half a billion views. Their huge streaming numbers caught the attention of Interscope Records. Die Antwoord’s going on to perform at the Coachella Music Festival.
Yolandi is respected across Africa for being the first female on a viral African Hip Hop video [or variant]. Uhm…you can make those three viral Hip Hop videos.