Nikki Laoye

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Nikki Laoye
Nikki Laoye 1.jpg
Nikki Laoye
Background information
Birth name Oyenike Laoye
Born (1980-12-19) 19 December 1980 (age 34)
Lagos, Nigeria
Genres Urban contemporary, alternative rock, R&B, pop, hip hop, soul, Gospel
Occupation(s) Singer, songwriter, radio/TV personality, actress, and humanitarian
Instruments Vocals
Years active 2005–present
Labels Wahala Media Entertainment
Website reverbnation.com/nikkilaoye

Oyenike Laoye-Oturu, professionally known as Nikki Laoye, is a Nigerian recording artist, singer, songwriter and dancer, renowned for her eclectic musical expressions and captivating stage performances.[1] Her passion for humanitarian activities attracted the attention of the Nigerian National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons (NCFRMI), who unveiled her as the celebrity 'Voice of Refugees' in Southwest Nigeria.[2] Her musical style is an Urban Contemporary sound with the fusion of Alternative Rock, R&B, Hip Hop, Pop, Soul, Funk, Jazz and Gospel. Born in Lagos, Nigeria and hailing from the musical lineage of the talking drum legend - Late Oba Adetoyese Laoye (from Ede, Osun State-Nigeria),[3] The singer, fondly called, the small one with the big voice, rose to fame in 2006 with the hit single, "Never Felt This Way Before" from her debut studio album, Angel 4 Life (2008),[4] which also featured other notable singles, including the Hip-Hop collaboration with Rooftop Mcs and her brother, Rap2Sai - "Taka Sufe"; the love ballad "Someone to Love" with R&B crooner Jeremiah Gyang[5] amongst others.

The release of the single "Never Felt This Way Before" brought a fresh urban Christian contemporary sound to the Nigerian music industry. This seven-time award nominated song, (2009 Hip Hop World Awards- Best Vocal Performance (Female) and HipHop World Revelation (Best New Artist);[6] KORA Awards-Best Spiritual Artist and Best Arrangement; 2009 City People Entertainment Awards-Musician of the Year (Female); the 2009 Nigerian Entertainment Awards in the US -Gospel Artist of the Year[7] & 2009 SoundCity Music Video Awards-Best Female Video), received major accolades and gave Laoye the rating as the 3rd Best Performance at the 2009 HipHop World Awards in Nigeria (Darey Art Alade and Tuface coming 1st and 2nd respectively, out of the 10 performances at the awards).

Laoye was the only female contender alongside top male Nigerian Artists - M.I, Banky W and Naeto C for the HipHop World Revelation (Best New Artist) category of the 2009 HipHop World Awards.[6]

In 2009, Laoye performed alongside Kirk Franklin, Cece Winans, Donnie McClurkin to an audience of 500,000[8] at The Experience Concert in Lagos.[9]

Laoye's music has gained critical acclaim beyond Africa, as she was one of the first three Nigerian artists ever to be interviewed and recognized on American entertainment channel, BET in 2009[10] and she was one of the preliminary judges for BET's Sunday Best Auditions which held in Lagos, Nigeria in December 2009. In 2011, Laoye's life and career were showcased in a special feature segment on BET, tagged "BET Spotlight – Nikki Laoye".[9]

In 2013, the singer made a comeback into the music scene after being on a hiatus following the loss of her father in 2011.[11][12]

Laoye was commissioned to record her own version of the Nigerian National Anthem for Nigerian TV Producer, Mo Abudu's Ebony Life Television in June 2013. The video is renowned as the first official music video for the Nigerian Anthem. Since its release in June 2013, Laoye has been invited to perform the anthem for the Presidency[13] in Aso Rock, Abuja and at other official functions. As at 2013, she released the singles "No Be Beans" with Yoruba Hip Hop artist Base One; the dance single "1,2,3"; and the ballad "Only You", a song dedicated to the memory of her late father,[11] for which she won an award for the Best Vocal Performance (Female) at the 2013 Headies Awards in Lagos, Nigeria.[14]

Early life[edit]

Nikki Laoye on the set of the Nigerian National Anthem Video in 2013

Laoye was born in Lagos, Nigeria; the only daughter to Prince Olushola Isaac Laoye & Olori Christiana Yetunde Laoye. With her long natural hair, Laoye bears traces of a mixed heritage as her father, Olushola is of European (Dutch), Ghanaian and Nigerian ancestry. She is sister to three brothers:[15] Femi, Bola and Ade, who is also known as Xblaze, a budding young music producer/Hip Hop artist[16] in Lagos, Nigeria.

Enrolled in choirs and dance classes at the age of five, Laoye started off her education at Grace Children School,[15] Gbagada, Lagos. Soon enough, she was singled out by her music teacher, who noticed her music abilities at such a tender age and personally offered her free piano lessons at the end of each school day. Laoye's musical talent was further enhanced during her high school years at Federal Government Girl's College, Sagamu[15] (from where she graduated in 1998) and at the University of Ibadan respectively as she performed with the school choirs and joined up with music and dance groups including Exousia, Soul Alliance and the girl group trio, Soul Sistas.[17]

In 1998, Laoye joined the youth band of Ikoyi Baptist Church and was introduced formally to contemporary gospel by friend and music director, Reginald Bassey and served as a soloist/lead vocalist for a couple of years. (Laoye later joined House on the Rock Church and was a lead vocalist for the choirs in Ibadan and Lagos for over 10 years.[18])

In 2000, a chance meeting along the hallways of St. Anne's hall, a private female hostel, at the University of Ibadan brought about the creation of the female girl group, Soul Sistas, composed of Laoye, Debola Kester and Aboyowa Tene.[19] The girls met during an evening of music, fun and games in their dorm room and struck a chord literally. They started performing together, simply for the love of it and finally took up the name "Soul Sistas" after singing at a campus fellowship and the Pastor, Dele Osunmakinde (now Pastor of The Baptizing Church, Lagos) remarked cheerfully "these ladies sing to your soul". In 2003, The girls were joined briefly by another female singer, Funmi Ojo, but returned to a trio within the same year.

Together for five years, Soul Sistas were the only female a cappella group at the University and were renowned for their soulful harmonies including their rendition of the classic a cappella song "Your Love is Better than Life". In 2005,The girls went their separate ways after graduating from the University with Laoye pursuing a solo career and Debola and Aboyowa took up regular jobs. In 2007, the trio returned to record a remix for their hit,[18] "Baba L'oke" for Laoye's debut album, Angel 4 Life. In 2010, Debola contested in the Nigerian music reality show, Project Fame Season 3[20] and was one of the final 10 contestants alongside Ochuko, Yetunde Omo'badan, Chidinma Ekile (winner).

Career[edit]

Laoye performing at the Sisters with Soul Concert, Lagos featuring Mary J Blige in 2013

Laoye began her career as a solo artist in 2006, with the release of her first single, "Never Felt this way Before",[17] produced by Nigerian music producer Cobhams. The single enjoyed airplay on mainstream radio stations in Nigeria and gained wide acceptance across the country, thus making Laoye one of the few contemporary Christian artists in the Nigerian music industry with mainstream appeal. The release of her HipHop collaboration single, "Taka Sufe" featuring Rooftop Mcs and Rap2Sai further endeared her to Nigerian youths and provided a platform of expression for her brother, Xblaze who produced the track. (Xblaze Ade Laoye produced most of the songs on Laoye's debut album as well as her 2013 dance single, "123". He was a principal producer for the West African Edition of X-Factor, held in Lagos, Nigeria).

Nikki Laoye with Cece Winans at the Experience 2009 press conference in Lagos, Nigeria

In 2008, Laoye followed up with the release of her debut album Angel 4 Life— a collection of contemporary sounds and a lineup of top Nigerian artists including Rooftop Mcs, Blaise, Jeremiah Gyang and many more. The singer soon gained notoriety as her singles gradually rose to the number one spot on the Nigerian Chart Show for weeks; and she was a main feature on the MTV Base Rockumentary show- Advance Warning. In 2009, Laoye performed[21] alongside American international gospel artists Kirk Franklin, Cece Winans and Donnie McClurkin to an audience of 500,000 at The 2009 Experience Concert in Lagos, Nigeria. Laoye also played a theatrical role in the Nigerian-Broadway stage play musical, OLURONBI in October 2009[22] and was one of the five female artists[23] on the 2009 Tetmosol Girl Power Tour, which was a nationwide tour across various states of Nigeria.

Laoye and Kirk Franklin performing together at the Experience Concert in December 2009 in Lagos, Nigeria

Laoye also lends her vocal signature on radio jingles some of which include Etisalat's "0809aija 4 Life", which featured R&B singer Banky W, MTN's "Everywhere You Go" jingle and Fidelity Bank's "No Greater Feeling". The singer has performed film soundtracks for major Nollywood productions such as Bent Arrows,[24] Where the Heart Lies,[25] Mission 2 Nowhere[25] and the ensemble film Journey to Self[26]

Laoye is also an on-air personality on television and radio. In 2005 she hosted the TV Show New Breeze Show on Silverbird Entertainment Television and as of 2013, she hosts her own radio show, Girls Rock with Nikki Laoye[27] on Nigerian internet gospel radio station Praiseworld Radio. She was also unveiled as one of the hosts for a gospel reality TV competition, Stars 4 Christ.[28]

In August 2013, Laoye headlined the Nigerian Corner at the Nottinghill Carnival[29] in the United Kingdom, an event which attracts thousands of Nigerians living across the United Kingdom. In the same year, Laoye went on a church tour of England,[30] which took her to London, Manchester, Loughton and Warrington. In September 2013, Laoye performed alongside R&B legend Mary J. Blige[31] at the "Sisters with Soul" concert in Lagos, Nigeria.

Philanthropy[edit]

In December 2010, Laoye founded the "Angel 4 Life Foundation",[32] a non-governmental organization through which she mentors and helps develop the creative skills of talented physically challenged youths[33] and also assists in the management of the Music Therapy Clinic of Modupe Cole Home for the Physically and Mentally Challenged, in Lagos, Nigeria.[3]

L-R Funke Kuti, Sammie Okposo, A visually-impaired participant, MC Abbey and Laoye at the 2012 International White Cane Day walk in Lagos, Nigeria

In October 2012, Laoye's Angel 4 Life foundation, in conjunction with the Nigeria Association of the Blind (Lagos Chapter, Nigeria) celebrated the 2012 International White Cane Day, the event consisted of a Sing for the blind unplugged fund raising gig on the hallways of The Palms Shopping Mall in Lekki with support from celebrities such as Sammie Okposo, Funke Kuti, Tiwa Savage, Dipp, Lamboginny and Kiki Omeili; a White Cane Awareness Walk and a Lunch Reception to celebrate the achievements and independence of all visually impaired citizens of Lagos State.[34]

On 25 December 2012 and 2013, the foundation hosted Christmas Day Out with Laoye providing a whole day trips and treats around the city of Lagos for physically challenged youths. The foundation also handles the The Art in Me project, an empowerment initiative for creative physically challenged youths. With the help of a Guaranty Trust Bank Training school set, Angel 4 Life helped to build a fully functional music recording studio for physically challenged producer, Akeem at Modupe Cole Home, Yaba, Lagos.

Laoye receiving the 234Giver Award for her philanthropic work in Lagos, Nigeria

In 2013, Laoye was given an honorary 234Giver Award[18] for her advocacy and contribution to the social and educational development of the physically challenged in Nigeria. The award was presented by 234Give, Nigeria's first online fundraising platform - a company dedicated to empowering individuals and companies to raise funds for causes that improve and uplift their communities.

Personal life[edit]

On 11 December 2011, Laoye married Alexander Oturu in Lagos, Nigeria.[35]

Recognition and Awards[edit]

Laoye performing at the 2009 Hip Hop World Awards in Abuja, Nigeria

Laoye's work has earned her numerous award nominations and accolades including the prestigious KORA Awards, HipHop World Awards[6] (now Headies),Soundcity Music Video Awards,[36] City People Entertainment Awards, NEA Awards(US),[7] Nigeria Music Video Awards (NMVA); Africa Gospel Music Awards(UK), Crystal Gospel Awards, Nigeria Gospel Music Awards(NGMA), and a special feature on MTVBase Advance Warning Reality TV Show.[37] She was announced as one of the brand ambassadors for popular wrist watch brand, Ice Watch, in Nigeria.

On 26 December 2013, Laoye was unveiled as the winner of the category for the Best Vocal Performance (Female) for her soulful ballad "Only You" in a strong field that included singers Waje, Niyola, Seyi Shay and Zaina, at The Headies 2013 Award ceremony in Lagos, Nigeria.[14]

In April 2014, Laoye was unveiled as 'The Voice for Refugees'[38] in southwest Nigeria, by the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons (NCFRMI). As part of her role as a celebrity voice, she has appeared at various events organized by the Commission to enlighten the general public about the travails of refugees and internally displaced persons. She has also made donations to the cause and performed at a number of events in support of the cause.

On 21 May 2014, Laoye was nominated in the category of Best Gospel Artiste at the African Muzik Magazine Awards (AFRIMMA) 2014. The Award ceremony is set to hold at the Eismann Centre in Dallas, Texas on the 26th of July 2014.[39] Later that month, Laoye was also nominated for Best Gospel Artiste of the Year by the Nigerian Entertainment Awards (NEA).[40]

On 20 July 2014, Laoye picked up the Crystal award for Best Worship Song for "Only You" at the 2014 Crystal Awards in Lagos, Nigeria.[41] She was also nominated for the Artiste of the Year and Best Female Vocalist categories at the awards.[42] On 24 August 2014 at the Fairfields Hall-Croydon, in London, England, Laoye won the award for 'Female Artiste of the Year' at the 2014 Africa Gospel Music Awards (AGMA).[43] She had also been nominated for the 'Artiste of the Year' (West Africa) at the same awards.[44]

Year Recipient Award Result
2009 "Never Felt This Way Before" 2009 Hip Hop World Awards: Best Vocal Performance (Female) Nominated
2009 Hip Hop World Awards: Hip Hop World Revelation (Best New Artist) Nominated
KORA Awards: Best Spiritual Artist Nominated
KORA Awards: Best Arrangement Nominated
SoundCity Music Video Awards: Best Female Video Nominated
Nikki Laoye City People Entertainment Awards: Musician of the Year (Female) Nominated
Nigerian Entertainment Awards, USA: Gospel Artist of the Year Nominated
2010 "Taka Sufe" Nigerian Music Video Awards: Best Afro-Hip Hop Video Nominated
Nigerian Music Video Awards: "Best Gospel Video" Nominated
2013 "Only You" African Gospel Music Awards, UK: Song of the Year Nominated
Nigerian Gospel Music Awards: Worship Song of the Year Nominated
"123" Crystal Gospel Awards: Song of the Year Nominated
Nigerian National Anthem Nigerian Gospel Music Video Awards: Best Goodwill Video Nominated
"Only You" Gospel Music Awards, Italy: Best International Song of the Year Nominated
Nikki Laoye Gospel Music Awards, Italy: Best International Female Artist of the Year Nominated
Nikki Laoye Gospel Music Awards, Italy: Best International Gospel Hip-Hop of the Year Nominated
'123' Nigerian Gospel Music Awards: Song of the Year Won
"Only You" The Headies 2013: Best Vocal Performance (Female) Won
2014 Nikki Laoye African Muzik Magazine Awards (AFRIMMA 2014): Best Gospel Artiste Nominated
2014 Nigeria Entertainment Awards: Gospel Artist of the Year Nominated
The Crystal Awards 2014: Artist of the Year Nominated
The Crystal Awards 2014: Best Female Vocalist Nominated
Africa Gospel Music Awards 2014: Female Artist of the Year Won
Africa Gospel Music Awards 2014: Artiste of the Year (West Africa) Nominated
"Only You" The Crystal Awards 2014: Best Worship Song Won
Nigerian Music Video Awards (NMVA) 2014: Best Soft Rock/Alternative Video Won

Discography[edit]

Year Title Type
2006 "Never Felt This Way Before" Single
"Joy Comes"
"Taka Sufe (Snap and Whistle)"
2008 Angel 4 Life Album
2011 "No be Beans" Single
2012 "123"
2013 "Only You"
"Can't Hold Me Down"
2014 "Your Number" featuring X-Blaze and Runel Karebian
"Mighty God"

References[edit]

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