Oyinkansola Sarah Aderibigbe
14 June 2002
|Other names||Celestial Being • Sabi girl|
|Alma mater||Les Cours Sonou, University|
|Occupation||Singer • songwriter|
Oyinkansola Sarah Aderibigbe (born 14 June 2002), known professionally as Ayra Starr, is a Beninese-born Nigerian singer. She began a fashion career at the age of 16 with Quove Model Management before deciding to pursue a career in music. After covering several songs by popular artists on Instagram, she posted her first original song on her page in December 2019. This brought her to the attention of record executive Don Jazzy, who signed her to his record label Mavin Records.
In early 2021, Starr achieved mainstream recognition with her eponymous debut extended play and its hit track "Away", which spent two consecutive weeks at number four on Nigeria's TurnTable Top 50 chart; the song also peaked at number 17 on the Billboard Top Triller Global chart, paving the way for the release of her first full-length album, 19 & Dangerous (2021). Categorized mainly as afropop and R&B, the mixtape received favorable critical reception and spawned two top forty hits in Nigeria. The lead single "Bloody Samaritan" peaked atop the Top 50 chart, becoming the first solo song by a female artist to reach the number-one position. Starr debuted on Pandora Predictions chart, and on 28 August 2021, was ranked number three on Billboard's Next Big Sound.
Starr would later achieve mainstream international recognition in 2022, with the release of her song "Rush". The song charted in several territories, including Switzerland, Ireland and the United Kingdom, where it peaked at number 24. it earned Starr her first nomination at the 66th Annual Grammy Awards for Best African Music Performance.
Oyinkansola Sarah Aderibigbe was born on 14 June 2002 in Cotonou, Benin, and grew up there and in Lagos, Nigeria. She is Nigerian and of the Yoruba ethnicity. Her family moved frequently during her high school years because of her father's business, and as a result she had a hard time forming close friendships.
Having been raised in a music-loving family, her interest in singing comes mostly from her family. At the age of 10, she sang in a high school choir and began writing songs with her brother. She attended Les Cours Sonou University and received a BA degree in international relations and "political science". During her college years, she was often bullied by her classmates because of her age and appearance. To counter the feelings, she experienced from being taunted, Starr turned to music. "I would listen to "Nicki Minaj" on my way to school, and I'd feel like the second Nicki Minaj." Starr's mother was very supportive of her musical ambitions, and always encouraged her to pursue a singing career.
2018–present: Career beginnings, Ayra Starr and 19 & Dangerous
In August 2018, Starr was signed with Quove Models, a modelling agency based in "Lagos". From there, she modelled for companies such as Mazelle Studio, Complete Fashion Magazine and Esperanza Woman. In 2019, she began posting covers of songs by artists like Andra Day and 2Face Idibia online. She chose her stage name because, in her words, "it means woke and eye-opening and that's what I stand for." She appeared in the music video for Eri Ife's song "Dear Future Wife." In December 2019, she uploaded an original song called "Damage" on her Instagram page. This was heard by thousands of people including label executive Don Jazzy and led to her first recording contract with Mavin Records.
In 2020, she started recording at Mavin Studios in Lagos with producers Louddaaa and Don Jazzy. Her self-titled debut extended play was released on 22 January 2021 through Mavin Records. The album has been described as "a topsy-turvy chronicle of love or love-themed situations" and "merges elements of R&B/neo-soul with Afropop percussion." Starr said her intention with the record was to make music that would resonate with both young and old listeners. The mixing and mastering of the EP was by Ikon, Louddaaa and Johnny Drille. Starr wrote one of the songs on the EP alone, and co-wrote the remaining four with her brother Dami. Shortly after its release, the EP became the number-one album on Nigeria iTunes and Apple Music. As of March 2021, it has reached the same position on Apple Music in 4 other countries, racking up over 15 million streams across Spotify, YouTube and Audio Mack. The project spawned the hit track "Away" which peaked at number four on Nigeria's TurnTable Top 50 and number 17 on US Billboard Top Triller Global. Its accompanying music video also debuted on MTV Base's Official Naija Top 10. OkayAfrica included the song in their list of The 9 Best Nigerian Songs of January 2021. Starr released remix versions of "Ija" and "Away" featuring Tokimonsta and Lilo respectively between March and April. Around the same time, Crayon's EP Twelve A.M was released with her vocals on the track "In Sync." She performed at the "UC Berkeley" Nigerian Students Association virtual culture show titled The Olori Awards. In April 2021, the official music video for her song "DITR" was released on YouTube via Mavin. In June 2021, the music video for another song titled "Sare", was released. Both music videos were directed by Afolabi Olalekan.
On 11 July 2021, Starr performed for the season finale of Nigerian Idol. On 6 August 2021, her debut studio album, titled 19 & Dangerous was released. For the album, she worked with her previous collaborators Louddaaa and Don Jazzy, both of whom contributed production on her EP Ayra Starr, and new collaborators, London and Andre Vibez. The album marked her first time recording alongside guest artists such as Fousheé and CKay. It was met with favorable critical reception with most critics characterizing its sound as primarily Afropop and R&B. It spawned two top forty hits on the TurnTable Top 50, the highest being "Bloody Samaritan", its lone single, which became Starr's first number-one single on the chart. The song climbed the Top 50 for several weeks, and, on the chart dated 27 September 2021, it reached the number one spot, making Starr the first female artist to do so with a solo single. She debuted on Pandora Predictions chart, and on 28 August 2021, she ranked number two on the Billboard's Next Big Sound. She was featured on "in the light", a track on Johnny Drille's Before We Fall Asleep. In September 2021, she was named brand ambassador for Pepsi Nigeria. The following day, Starr performed during a live eviction episode of Big Brother Naija. She collaborated with Cheque on "Dangerous", the second track on his album Bravo. At the 8th African Muzik Magazine Awards, she was nominated for Best Newcomer award.
On November 10, 2022, Starr featured on "2 Sugar", a track from Wizkid's fifth studio album More Love, Less Ego. The song reached number 1 on Billboard's Hot Trending, and debuted at number 5 on the Billboard U.S. Afrobeats Songs chart. On March 4, 2023, Starr took to social media to announce her music was used as soundtrack for blockbuster American action movie, Creed III.
Although musically diverse, Starr's sound has predominantly been categorized as Afropop and R&B. Her voice has been described in the media as "silky", "cozy", "delicate", "sturdy", "arresting" and "soulful", with music critics noting the dynamic nature of her range and emotional delivery. Her lyrics are a mixture of English, Nigerian Pidgin English and Yoruba, often exploring contemporary topics such as love, relationships, empowerment and freedom.
With the release of her debut eponymous EP, some critics felt that her vocal technique bore a striking resemblance to Tems' musical style. In an interview with Cool FM, Starr spoke about comparisons to Tems: "I'm a young artist and Tems is an amazing musician, for people to compare me to such an amazing musician, it's a compliment and I'm honoured." Motolani Alake, reviewing the EP for Pulse wrote that "Ayra Starr isn't exactly a replica of Tems, but when she manipulates her vocals to stress the final syllable on words, sentences and cadences by flexing her octaves, she definitely sounds like Tems." Alake also opined that both artists are different and that "Tems can be more alternative while Starr is more Nigerian and more Afropop with more lamba in her soul." Schön! Magazine's Thandie Sibanda called the EP "a coming-of-age jukebox." Karen Chalamilla of The Floor remarked that Starr "not only solidifies the singer/songwriter as a standout vocalist, but also serves as an acute window into her artistic sensibilities."
In a review for 19 & Dangerous, Oris Aigbokhaevbolo of Music In Africa described Starr as an evolving artist and praised her singing abilities, adding that it's clear she "can work across genres while not quite sounding like anybody else." 19 & Dangerous retains the Afropop-R&B sound of her previous record, but it also incorporates influences from genres such as neo-soul, Jazz and EDM.
Starr grew up in a musically inclined family. She considers her mother, a former singer and her brother Dami, a guitarist and songwriter as her earliest inspirations for her interest in a music career. Growing up between Bénin and Nigeria, she was exposed to different cultures that influenced her perspective on life and her personality. Starr and Dami began writing songs from a very young age under the tutelage of their mother and aunt. She had wanted to make a real career out of singing since age 10 but her father encouraged her to complete her education first.
In her interviews for local and international media, she stated that throughout her childhood, she had a wide range of musical influences, including 2Face Idibia, Wande Coal, Angélique Kidjo, Lijadu Sisters and Tope Alabi, and in college, Nicki Minaj, Justin Bieber, Sia and Tiwa Savage. She credited Shakira as her biggest influence vocally along with Beyoncé, Rihanna and Miley Cyrus: "It was just the power I would feel listening to their music. We didn't get a lot of Nigerian female singers singing strongly about things like them, not as we do now." Lyrically, she admires Aṣa and has said that she "wrote so beautifully [and] was one of those people [she] would listen to just to learn how to write properly."
As lead artist
|Title||Year||Peak chart positions||Certifications||Album|
|"Fashion Killa"||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—[a]||—||19 & Dangerous and Deluxe|
(solo or remix featuring Kelly Rowland)
(with Tiwa Savage and Young Jonn)
|"Rhythm & Blues"||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—[e]||—|
|"—" denotes items which were not released in that country or failed to chart.|
As featured artist
|Year||Title||Peak chart positions||Certifications||Album|
(Wizkid featuring Ayra Starr)
|2022||5||38||70||—||70||More Love, Less Ego|
(Ninho featuring Ayra Starr)
|"Girl Next Door"
(Tyla featuring Ayra Starr)
(Leigh-Anne featuring Ayra Starr)
(Neiked featuring Ayra Starr)
(David Guetta featuring Ayra Starr and Lil Durk)
|"—" denotes items which were not released in that country or failed to chart.|
|"In the Light"||2021||Johnny Drille||Before We Fall Asleep|
|"Roadside" (+234 Remix)||Mahalia, Rema||—|
Awards and nominations
|Award||Year||Recipient(s) and nominees(s)||Category||Result||Ref.|
|African Entertainment Awards USA||2021||Herself||Best New Artist||Nominated|||
|African Muzik Magazine Awards||2021||Best Newcomer||Nominated|||
|Mobo Awards||2021||Best African Music Act||Nominated|||
|Net Honours||2021||"Away"||Most Played R&B Song||Nominated|||
|2022||Herself||Breakout Artist of the Year (Female)||Won|||
|Most Searched Musician (Female)||Nominated|
|The Headies 2022||Next Rated||Nominated|||
|"Beggie Beggie" – Ayra Starr ft. CKay||Best R&B Single||Nominated|
|Toxic||Best Vocal Performance (Female)||Nominated|
|Bloody Samaritan||Best Afrobeats Single of the Year||Nominated|
|Headies' Viewer's Choice||Won|
|19 & Dangerous||Best Afrobeats Album||Nominated|
|Album of the Year||Nominated|
|BET Awards 2022||Herself||Best New International Act||Nominated|||
|BET Awards 2023||2023||Herself||Best International Act||Nominated|||
|The Future Awards Africa||Herself||Prize for Music||Pending|||
|Grammy Awards||2024||"Rush"||Best African Music Performance||Pending|||
- "Fashion Killa" did not enter the UK Singles Chart, but peaked at number eighteen on the UK Afrobeat Singles Chart.
- "Bloody Samaritan (Remix)" did not enter the UK Singles Chart, but the Original Version peaked at number four on the UK Afrobeat Singles Chart.
- "Sability" did not enter the UK Singles Chart, but peaked at number five on the UK Afrobeat Singles Chart.
- "Stamina" did not enter the UK Singles Chart, but peaked at number two on the UK Afrobeat Singles Chart.
- "Rhythm & Blues" did not enter the UK Singles Chart, but peaked at number eight on the UK Afrobeat Singles Chart.
- "Don Jazzy activates Ayra Starr". This Day Live. 30 January 2021. Archived from the original on 28 September 2022. Retrieved 6 April 2021.
- "Next Big Sound Chart". Billboard. Archived from the original on 21 August 2021. Retrieved 21 August 2021.
- The Scoove, Africa (28 February 2021). "Ayra Starr breaks new Record as "Rush" hits 100 Million views on YouTube". The Scoove Africa.
- "2024 GRAMMY Nominations: See The Full Nominees List | GRAMMY.com". www.grammy.com. Retrieved 11 November 2023.
- Obi, Ify (18 March 2021). "Nigerian Singer Ayra Starr Is Making Her Mark on Music". HYPEBAE. Archived from the original on 12 April 2021. Retrieved 12 April 2021.
- "Ayra Starr: Nigerian teen leading her generation's sonic revolution". NME. 16 February 2021. Archived from the original on 17 April 2021. Retrieved 6 April 2021.
- Sibanda, Thandie (25 February 2021). "interview | ayra starr". Schön! Magazine. Archived from the original on 17 April 2021. Retrieved 17 April 2021.
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- "Ayra Starr – EP by Ayra Starr". Archived from the original on 12 April 2021. Retrieved 12 April 2021.
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- "Turntable Charts". Archived from the original on 28 September 2022. Retrieved 6 April 2021.
- "The 9 Best Nigerian Songs of the Month (January)". OkayAfrica. 27 January 2021. Archived from the original on 4 May 2021. Retrieved 6 April 2021.
- Alake, Motolani (26 March 2021). "Rema, Ayra Starr, Bella Shmurda feature on Crayon's new EP, 'Twelve AM'". Pulse Nigeria. Archived from the original on 13 April 2021. Retrieved 13 April 2021.
- Okobz, Ralph (20 April 2021). "Watch Ayra Starr's Captivating UC Berkeley Performance". NotJustOk. Archived from the original on 3 May 2021. Retrieved 5 May 2021.
- "New Video: Ayra Starr – DITR". BellaNaija. 28 April 2021. Archived from the original on 28 September 2022. Retrieved 5 May 2021.
- Edeme, Victoria (11 July 2021). "Ice Prince, Ayra Starr, others perform at Nigerian Idol Grand Finale". Punch Newspapers. Retrieved 27 July 2021.
- "Ayra Starr Set To Release Visual For "Beggie Beggie" with Ckay". wapBeatz.com. Archived from the original on 28 September 2022. Retrieved 28 January 2022.
- Badewa, Collins (19 July 2021). "Rave News Digest: Ayra Starr Announces Album Release Date, Colin Kaepernick Writing A Book, Giroud + More". Style Rave. Retrieved 20 July 2021.
- "DNA Mix: Throwback". BBC Radio 1Xtra. 28 July 2021. Archived from the original on 30 July 2021. Retrieved 30 July 2021 – via Wayback Machine.
- Mike, Steven (6 August 2021). "Ayra Starr 19 & Dangerous Album". ivoryMP3. Archived from the original on 28 September 2022. Retrieved 10 August 2021.
- "Pepsi unveils new ambassadors Ayra Starr and Rema #ForTheLoveOfMusic". Vanguard News. 4 September 2021. Retrieved 10 September 2021.
- Rutherford, Kevin (22 November 2022). "Wizkid Dominates With Top Four Spots on Hot Trending Songs Chart". Billboard. Retrieved 15 August 2023.
- "Ayra Starr gushes as her song gets featured in Hollywood's,Creed III". tribuneonlineng. 4 March 2023. Retrieved 4 March 2023.
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- Chalamilla, Karen (9 August 2021). "Ayra Starr Album Review: 19 & Dangerous | THE FLOOR MAG". The Floor Magazine. Archived from the original on 14 September 2021. Retrieved 14 September 2021.
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- "TurnTable Nigeria Top 100". TurnTable Charts. Retrieved 25 June 2023.
- "Billboard Canadian Hot 100: Week of March 4, 2023". Billboard. Retrieved 28 February 2023.
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- "IRMA – Irish Charts". Irish Recorded Music Association. Retrieved 25 March 2023.
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- Peak chart positions for singles in Suriname:
- "Rush": "De Top 40 Lijst Voor 5 – 12 Jan 2023" [The Top 40 List For 5 – Jan 12, 2023]. Nationale Top 40 Suriname. 5 January 2023. Retrieved 5 July 2023.
- "Bloody Samaritan" (Remix): "De Top 40 Lijst Voor 15 – Dec 22, 2022" [The Top 40 List For 8 – Dec 15, 2022]. Nationale Top 40 Suriname. 15 December 2022. Retrieved 5 July 2023.
- "Stability": "Top 40 – 20 April Tot 27 April 2023" [Top 40 – April 20 to April 27, 2023]. Nationale Top 40 Suriname. 20 April 2023. Retrieved 5 July 2023.
- "Veckolista Singlar, vecka 4". Sverigetopplistan. Retrieved 28 January 2023.
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- "Billboard Global 200: Week of March 11, 2023". Billboard. Retrieved 7 March 2023.
- "Official Afrobeats Chart". UK Single charts. 26 July 2023.
- "British certifications – Ayra Starr". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 25 November 2023. Type Ayra Starr in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
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- "Tiwa Savage drops visuals for 'Stamina'". P.M. News. 12 April 2023. Retrieved 21 June 2023.
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- "Local & International Streaming Chart Top 100 Week 46-2022". The Official South African Charts. Recording Industry of South Africa. Retrieved 24 November 2022.
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- Hansen, Gabriel Myers (5 September 2022). "Headies 2022: All the winners". Music in Africa. Retrieved 4 July 2023.
- "Pheelz and Ayra Starr Make History With BET 2022 Award Nominations". Tooxclusive. Retrieved 26 July 2023.
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- "FULL LIST: Asake, Tobi Amusan, Osimhen nominated for TFAA 2023". TheCable Lifestyle. 26 September 2023. Retrieved 27 September 2023.