A robust music career, success amid controversy, determination and hard work make her one of the greatest artistes the continent has ever seen. That’s Nigerian self-acclaimed Number One African Bad Girl, Tiwa Savage, who clocked 40 on February 5. Ten years down the line in the industry, Tiwa is truly glittering like a superstar. At 40, she looks set to offer the industry more. Ferdinand Ekechukwu reports
ge, they say, is nothing but a number. A lot of people would readily acknowledge this but it would take double acknowledgement for an abundant talent, who now at the age of forty, ten years after emerging in an industry populated by younger ones, held her own game and shone like the superstar she is. This relates to one of Nigeria’s top female entertainer, Tiwa Savage. The Nigerian singer, songwriter and actress clocked forty on February 5, 2020, to the joy of her numerous fans, who celebrated with her via birthday wishes. She was so grateful to the “Savage Armies”, her teeming fans, who are now 10 million on Instagram, becoming the first Nigerian female singer to do so. Also, two years ago, Savage was also the first Nigerian woman to win Best African Act at the 2018 MTV Europe Music Awards.
Tiwa Savage’s story simply tells you one thing – it’s never too old to achieve your dreams. She started in the Nigerian music industry at a relatively older age but it didn’t stop her from giving the young ones a run for their money with her determination and hard work, making her one of the greatest artistes the continent has ever seen. Revealing the news of her special fortieth birthday on social media, the beautiful songstress, as she has often been described, shared a gorgeous photo of herself via her Instagram page.
Taken in the busy city of California looking like she’s reflecting past experiences, success, and failures, sexy diva captioned it “44-4”. You would need no one to tell what it means that 44-4=40. The day soon followed by a surprised birthday party kept low key by her friends. The height of her age is parallel to the realisation of her music career; a successful career that trailed controversies. Sourced materials show Tiwatope Savage, known professionally as Tiwa Savage began her music career doing backup vocals for artistes such as George Michael and Mary J. Blige.
That was five years later after relocating to London at the age of 11 for her secondary education. 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. The deal allowed her to write for some of America’s greatest artistes. She received songwriting credits for her contribution to Monica’s soul-tinged ballad “Catch Me”.
Her collaboration with Fantasia on the song “Collard Greens & Cornbread” earned the American recording artiste a Grammy nomination in 2010 same year she moved back to Nigeria. She was signed by Mavin Records in 2012. With Mavin Records platform comes a tremendous career that pushed her on to her present international Universal Music Group and its affiliates like Motown Records on a seven years publishing and distribution deal beginning a good year for the former Mavin first lady who will release priority album globally this year through the UMG.
Tiwa’s career story would be incomplete without her former manager and husband, Tunji Balogun (Tee Billz). In the beginning she had met with Tee Billz as her manager in America. Inspired by the growth of the Nigerian music industry, Tee Billz soon convinced Tiwa to move back to Nigeria after she impressed him with a demo tape and ultimately rebranded her. The credit goes without saying as she once attributed a part of her success to him when she got a whooping offer from RocNation on her profile on the record label’s website.
She wrote: “You’re writing songs, you’re writing your experiences and then you’re giving them to somebody else. It never felt quite right; it was something I always wanted. I write these songs, I want to sing it and perform it the way I want to do it because it was something I loved through. I met Tunji and he told me about the growing Afrobeats scene back home in Nigeria. He thought I was wasting my talents being a songwriter & a backing singer and pushed me to move back to Africa. At first, I thought it was a bit of a step backwards but he was adamant that this was my future. He knew it was what would set me apart from the rest.”
Tee Billz was Tiwa’s manager when she started her music career in Nigeria under his 323 Management Company. They began dating in the process and got married in 2013 and had a son named Jamal. Their marriage crashed in 2016 and Teebillz has since moved back to the US after unsuccessful attempts to bounce back after terribly falling out with Tiwa. Teebillz had accused his wife of infidelity and his mother-in-law of witchcraft.
In response, Tiwa extensively addressed her husband’s lengthy social media posts regarding their marriage in an infamous 44-minutes interview that had got tongues wagging and head rolling. That this did not drown Tiwa and her career shows how strong a personality she is. She would later acknowledge that, and said: “It’s been the grace of God and I think I have been able to pull through by simply immersing myself in my work.”
Often clad in sexy outfits, which appear to be her trademark, gives out the impression of one who is misunderstood and being judged a lot for things she has little control. She had admitted that all that has been written about her doesn’t really affect her anymore. Because when she got into the industry, it was very difficult for anybody to realise this. But now, she has come to the realisation that “the hard work you put in and the positive things that you do as an artiste always outweighs the negative.” Truly, she has worked hard, a feat which has resulted to her break into the international market, which her dream was to grow the Tiwa Savage brand at home and abroad while basically just trying to strike a balance with both audience and market.
Same as she tries to balance her relationship status with industry colleagues. And for this has made the headlines in recent times for her repeated romantic displays with Wizkid – including stage kissing and public butt smacking and fondling on and off stage. As you already know, the two great singers have shared some cozy moments together over the years and it got their fans confused as to what is going on between the two stars. Not long after, their fans and followers were left to conclude for themselves what was going on.
While a majority of their fans thinks they are romantically involved, some have a different opinion saying that is how close allies do. The two ‘besties’ as they fondly call each other managed not to give a direct answer to questions about relationship even as they continued to show support for each other’s career and occasionally spends quality time together. Tiwa has made it clear this year, she’s ready for a serious relationship and Starboy perhaps is not ready. However, the secret love affair between Tiwa and Wizkid seems to have fizzled into thin air with recent development which would be left for some other day.