Rather than focusing on the shortcomings of the treatment of female artists in the Nigerian music industry, let’s shift our discussion to the transformative efforts of the new generation of Nigerian female artists. Ayra Starr, in particular, exudes a unique “young and getting it” energy that is breaking new ground in the industry.
Similar to every emerging artist joining Don Jazzy’s record label, my introduction to Ayra’s music occurred through her debut EP, especially when the standout track “Away” gained widespread popularity. During my student days, it became a ritual in almost every off-campus hostel; Ayra Starr’s “Away” served as the morning anthem. The lyrics echoed through every window, with a chorus of “Away, away, away, away/ Ah-ah, away ayy,” almost as if the listeners wished the song could truly whisk away their troubles.
Little did anyone anticipate the meteoric rise that Ayra Starr would experience. Undoubtedly, being signed by Don Jazzy granted her a certain level of starter fame, but beyond that, Ayra Starr had diligently prepared herself. While any moment would have been opportune for her to shine given her exceptional talent, entering the spotlight in 2021 proved to be the ideal time to make her mark. A year after the upheaval caused by the pandemic, as everyone sought a fresh start, Ayra Starr emerged and emphatically declared, “Here I am, the celestial star you’ve never seen before.”
Boldly asserting your presence as a young female artist in a fiercely competitive, male-dominated industry doesn’t get more audacious than delivering a powerful album. Just a few months after her debut EP, Ayra Starr returned with a remarkably brilliant and cohesive album, aptly titled “19 & Dangerous.” Despite her youth at 19, her talent is dangerously impactful.
Ayra Starr’s resonance with a vast audience, particularly among young individuals like myself, stems from her role in ushering in the era of Gen-Z. In the post-pandemic landscape, Gen-Z worldwide began asserting their place in societal structures. It marked a period where many young people demonstrated their capabilities to become significant contributors across various industries. Within the Nigerian music scene, Ayra Starr epitomised this vibe, making waves with explosive tracks like “Bloody Samaritan,” one of the standout songs of 2021. Her album’s opening track, “Cast,” served as a Gen-Z anthem and even secured a collaboration with Kelly Rowland.
Attempting to dismiss Ayra Starr’s significance or dampen her energy is futile; she possesses the power to extinguish any naysayers’ candlelight. She is determined to attain everything she desires, making her an unstoppable force in the music scene.
Ayra Starr’s journey in the music industry is far from over, but in just three years, she has played a significant role in reshaping the narrative for female artists within the Nigerian music scene. Continuously living up to her stellar reputation, she has achieved remarkable milestones. As a Grammy nominee, an MTV Europe Music Award nominee for Best African Act, and a nominee for a Billboard Music Award for Top Afrobeats Song, among numerous other accolades, Ayra Starr’s talent is like a flowing river—powerful, consistent, and celestial. Undoubtedly sabi girl, dangerously talented, as she stands out as a skilled artist.