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Tiwa Savage the queen of Afrobeat

Photography: @lakinogunbanwo

Nigerian superstar Tiwa Savage’s song, ‘Dangerous Love’, is currently the most-played song on my playlist. It’s the perfect companion when I’m working out, cleaning the house or need a pick-me-up.

Singer-songwriter and actress Tiwa Savage is one of the world’s most-loved and followed Afrobeat artists, and has many accolades to her name. Her latest album, Celia, gained over 200 million streams globally, and Time magazine named it one of the top 10 best albums of 2020. Tiwa talks to Glamour about life in Nigeria, growing up in London, #ENDSARS and life.

Your fondest memories of growing up in Lagos?

I was born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria, the last born and only girl with three older brothers. My childhood was average: I’d attend school during the week and a family party or wedding on Saturdays, then spend most of Sunday at church. Beans and Agege bread reminds me of home.

Photography: @lakinogunbanwo

You moved from Lagos to London when you were 11.

It wasn’t great, to be honest. I went to the UK under the illusion that it’d

be a holiday to visit my brothers who’d relocated to London at the time. I was so excited and showed off to my friends that I’d be travelling. When we got there, it was grey, wet and cold. To my surprise, my mom announced I wouldn’t be returning to Lagos, that I was going to start school in London. I was bullied horrendously in school, mainly for having a thick Nigerian accent and being super-skinny with long arms and legs and no hair. Music became my way of coping.

I grew up surrounded by music, at home and in church, and so, it’s been a constant in my life.

When I was bullied in school, I had a crush on a boy in the music class, so I joined the school music program. I played the trombone because that was the only position available in the band. I fell in love with singing after I audtioning for the signing group achieved is incredible. I fell in love with R&B when I heard her sing.

You began your music career doing backup vocals for artists such as George Michael and Mary J. Blige. What did that experience teach you about the industry and where you wanted to be?

I learnt so much about hard work, and how harsh the music business can be. A lot of work goes into being successful, such as spending many hours in the studio, at rehearsals and interviews, travelling, and always having to be away from your loved ones.

I also learnt the power of music, how it touches strangers; it can make you happy just as it can move you to tears.

For me, music is a journey without a destination, for myself and my fans. Where I am now is where I’m supposed to be, and I believe my music will live on even after I am gone.

WATCH: The Queen of Afrobeats, Tiwa Savage covers the GLAMOUR South Africa March issue

To read Tiwa’s full interview in the March issue of Glamour SA, click here.

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