Women are constantly raising the bar for every industry they operate in and the Nigerian music scene is no different. Despite the challenges women have continued to show up and show out — thriving and kicking butts like it’s nobody’s business. To celebrate International Women’s Day, we join TurnTable Charts in documenting the incredible ways Nigerian women have made history in the music industry.

1. 2006 — Asa becomes the first artist to win the Headies’ Next Rated Award

No one was doing it like Asa when her album Asha  dropped back in the day. With songs like Fire on the Mountain and Jailer, we were introduced to a thought-provoking artist amid the feel-good dance music that had overtaken the airwaves. Asa was a game-changer back then, and if her new album is any indicator of the future, our queen will remain a game-changer for a long time to come. 

2. 2008 — TY Bello wins Best New Act at the Nigerian Entertainment Awards

TY Bello’s solo album after years in the band, Kush, was a major success with its lead single, Green Land, becoming an anthem and a choreography presentation staple at graduations all over the country (we all did that dance, don’t worry). Even though the land is looking like it’s no longer green, and baby girl is now heavily focused on photography, she’ll always remain an iconic part of our modern music history. 

3. 2010 — Mocheddah becomes the youngest winner of the MTV Africa award for Best New Artist

Please, where is Mocheddah? This babe came out of nowhere, dropped a couple of bangers and just…disappeared. Once upon a time, Wizkid and Mocheddah were tipped as the future of Nigerian music and boy, do we miss the good old days. From Ko Ma Roll to If You Want Me, Mocheddah was THAT girl abeg. 

4. 2018, 2019, 2021 — Tope Alabi becomes the most played artist on Boomplay

Religious or not, Tope Alabi’s music gets us in our gut. We don’t know how she does it, but we know for sure that she does it well. An icon when it comes to gospel music in Nigeria, Tope overtook everyone from Wizkid to Burna Boy, becoming the most played artist on Boomplay in 2018. Her album, Yes & Amen was also the most streamed album on Boomplay in 2018 and 2019, with its title track leading the Year-End Songs Chart on the app in 2019 as well. Come through, ma’am. So much love it!

RELATED: These Women Paved the Way for Afrobeats, So Give Them Their Flowers 

5. 2019 — Teni’s Uyo Meyo is the last song by a female artist to win Record of the Year at the Headies

There’s something about Uyo Meyo that just injects ginger into our veins and inspires us to hustle. While songs like Askamaya and Case showed Teni as a feel-good artist who didn’t take herself too seriously, Uyo Meyo showed us another side of the hitmaker. Now with her debut album from 2021 still blazing up the charts, it’s touching to see all the dreams she sang about coming true in real-time. *hold’s back tears*

6. 2020 — Simi’s Duduke is the first song by a female artist to lead the YouTube Nigeria Top Songs Year-End Chart

  • It was also the number one song on YouTube Nigeria in 2020
  • Simi also ended as the number one female artiste in 2020

When she’s not out on the interwebs doing cute stuff with Adekunle Gold, Simi is steadily dropping bangers left, right and centre. Duduke became a big anthem in 2020, and even though some of us can’t afford those troublesome tiny humans, for a split second, we considered ordering them online or something. By the way, Miss Simi, how far the new album you’ve been teasing? We’re already in March dear. 

7. 2020 — Mercy Chinwo becomes the overall top gospel artist

From competing at Project Fame to dropping one of the most popular gospel songs of all time, Excess Love, Mercy Chinwo has been really busy. 

8. 2021 — Tiwa Savage becomes the most awarded female afrobeats artist in history

Number one African bad gyal is not a title you give yourself unless you have the receipts to prove it and omo, Tiwa has plenty of receipts. How do you want it: PDF or Word? From the Headies to the MOBOS and the MTV EMAs, Tiwa’s award cabinet must be the size of a small football pitch by now. And with three albums, three EPs and a truckload of hits to her name, Ms. Savage deserves all her flowers.

9. 2021 — Tems becomes the first female artist to receive an RIAA certification with Essence

  • She was also the most streamed female artist in Nigeria

t’s Tems’ world, and we’re all just renting self-contains in it. While Try Me made her a household name in Nigeria, 2020’s Essence with Wizkid turned our homegirl into a global superstar with everyone from Rihanna to Adele famzing our fave. She also made history debuting on the Billboard Hot 100 and becoming a Tommy Hilfiger spokesperson. There’s no stopping Tems and for the rest of us, well, we’re just here for the ride. 

10. 2021 — Sinach is the most viewed Nigerian music artist on YouTube 

Are you surprised? With the countless Way Maker covers and remixes, it’s clear that Sinach is walking in serious power and miracles, and we’re here for all of it. 

11. 2021 — Ayra Starr becomes the first female artist to reach number one in Nigeria as a solo artist with Bloody Samaritan  

How did a 19 year-old Lagos girl become one of the biggest stars of 2021? Well, Ayra Starr was born for this. Coming into the game with confidence and artistry well beyond her age, Ayra’s debut single, Away, dropped from nowhere and immediately became a hit. By the time Bloody Samaritan dropped, we were all registered members of the Ayra Starr fan club (Mobstarrs?). The best part?  She’s just getting started

12. 2021 — Fave becomes the first artist to reach number one in Nigeria with a single off their debut project with Baby Riddim

There was no way we could escape Baby Riddim last year, even if we tried. If you turned to your right, “My baby good!” and if you mistakenly turned to your left, “My baby bad!” — this song was everywhere. With other songs from her new EP, Riddim 5, slowly catching steam, there’s a high chance we’re going to be hearing FAVE’s voice for a long time and honestly, we can’t complain. 

CONTINUE READING: 6 Female African Artists Topping the Charts Right Now 



Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.