Nigeria’s Afrobeats diva, Tiwa Savage, made history last Saturday when she performed at Universal Music Group Chairman & CEO’s exclusive 2020 Artistes’ Showcase in Los Angeles, ahead of the Grammy Awards. Ferdinand Ekechukwu reports
It was the first time a Nigerian musician will be performing at the posh Universal Music Group Chairman & CEO’s Artistes’ Showcase in the United States. Tiwa Savage sparkled on the centre stage, leaving the audience asking for more. Universal Music Group’s CEO/Chairman, Sir Lucian Grainge hosted the annual Artistes’ showcase on the Saturday of the Grammy weekend, which celebrates the industry’s biggest accomplishments of the past year.
Tiwa performed alongside South African rapper, Nasty C, at the event which took place at West Hollywood’s Milk Studios in Hollywood. Universal Music Group’s annual Grammy week Brunch and Showcase was a family gathering of sorts, with executives and artistes joining to celebrate one another’s biggest accomplishments of the past year. In all, 10 performances proved as much, as artistes like Tiwa Savage and Karol G (Columbia) proficiently represented their home countries.
Tiwa Savage gave an electrifying performance of her hit songs at the ceremony, attended by so many celebrities. The exclusive show was graced by the good and the great of the entertainment world and marks the beginning of a huge year for both Tiwa and Nasty C, who will release priority albums globally in 2020 through Universal Music Group.
Tiwa and Nasty C performed alongside the likes of Billie Eilish (who later clinched the big four categories at the Grammys) and Lewis Capaldi, and both look set to shine a spotlight on African music around the world in the coming year.
Sir Lucian Grainge’s 2020 Artistes’ Showcase gave industry insiders front row seats to intimate performances by UMG’s hottest, established and breaking talents. The Showcase featured other performances by Brit singer/songwriter, Lewis Capaldi, Anthony Ramos, Gregory Porter, Maggie Rogers, and DaBaby.
The event, at the Milk Studios, Hollywood, was notably international in its line-up. Universal, recently valued at more than $33 billion, is home to thousands of artistes, ranging from Taylor Swift, Drake, U2, The Weekend and Sam Smith to iconic heritage acts like the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Elton John, Chuck Berry and the Motown catalog, to name but a few.
On 2 May 2019, Universal Music Group announced the signing of Savage to a seven-year publishing and distribution deal. Efe Ogbeni of Regime Music Societe and Vannessa Amadi-Ogbonna will be responsible for executive producing all of her projects under the label. Savage’s future music will be released through the label’s operations in more than 60 countries following the exclusive agreement.
The former first lady of Mavin Records started a new chapter in her well-established music career when she parted ways with Mavin Records after 7 years. During the signing with UMG, the sexy Tiwa Savage said it was like a dream, “but more importantly, it means I’m part of a legacy; I’m part of a huge engine and it’s definitely an honour to have an artiste like me from Nigeria doing afrobeat music, which is still fairly new to the rest of the world, and it’s exciting.”
Tiwatope Savage, professionally known as Tiwa Savage, was born in Isale Eko, Lagos and relocated to London at the age of 11 for her secondary education. Five years later, she began her music career doing backup vocals for artistes like George Michael and Mary J. Blige. After participating in the UK edition of The X Factor and graduating from Berklee College of Music, Savage signed a publishing deal with Sony/ATV Music Publishing in 2009. Inspired by the growth of the Nigerian music industry, Savage moved back to Nigeria and signed with Mavin Records in 2012 and had a tremendous career with the label before moving on to her present UMG label.
Sir Grainge, CBE and boss of UMG, has been instrumental in the careers of artistes such as Amy Winehouse, ABBA, Eurythmics, Rihanna, Sam Smith, Take That, Psychedelic Furs, The Rolling Stones, Sting, Jamie Cullum and Andrea Bocelli. He has worked in the music business for his entire career. This music industry icon topped Billboard’s “Power 100” list as the most powerful person in the music business in 2013, 2015, 2016, and 2019. Sir Grainge is the only person to ever hold that distinction more than once and for consecutive years. Irving Azoff called him “the great hope for the music business” and Jimmy Iovine said Grainge “is working to restore the spirit of risk-taking and innovation” by being “’willing and open to entrepreneurship and that kind of thing has gotten depleted in the record industry.” In an interview with Grainge, Billboard wrote: “If “power means moving markets or greenlighting massive spends, Universal Music Group chairman Lucian Grainge demonstrated a staggering penchant for it when UMG completed its $1.9 billion acquisition of EMI’s recorded-music assets in September 2012. Grainge is a fierce and tireless advocate for the recorded-music business.
In 2013, CNET wrote that “Grainge is positioning UMG to lead the pack of major labels in their embracing of new digital opportunities.” A 2014 front-page Los Angeles Times profile of Grainge said: “if anyone can save the music business, it might be Grainge.” In 2015, Billboard wrote, “in the age of Spotify, YouTube and Shazam, Grainge is positioned to tackle his business’ overriding priority: win fair compensation for artistes, and take full ownership of content that other parties have been profiting from.”