African Music Culture

A Crush Made Tiwa Savage Discover She Could Sing

Tiwa Savage music career
Written by Teresa Mwangi

Nigerian music holds Africa’s creative prestige, thanks to people like the legendary Fela Kuti. But, there is another gem in Tiwa Savage music career.

Born on February 5, 1980, in Isale Eko Lagos, she never had any interest in music. She always thought that her life would end up in the corporate sector so much so that she pursued an accounting degree at the University of Kent in London but music swept her off her feet.

Here is her story. Tiwatope Savage grew up in Lagos until age 10 when her mother flew her to London to join her brothers. She enrolled in a London high school and for four years, life was unbearable due to bullying. The ‘Kele Kele’ hitmaker suffered from low self-esteem and contemplated suicide twice and skin bleaching to feel confident about herself.

Tiwa Savage

Tiwa Savage. Photo/YouTube

“It was so bad that I literally tried to kill myself two times. I was really depressed, I was really bullied,” she tells Bounce. It is the bullying by a group of Jamaican girls that pushed her to try music because she had a crush on one guy who always hung out with the bully students. All she wanted was to impress him.

For love and affection, Tiwa Savage music career blossomed with a high school play dubbed Sound of Music. She was 14 years old at the time and her performance in the play left many people, her bullies included, in awe. Fate conspired and she got different gigs as a backup singer, one of them being George Michael.

Was Tiwa Savage Part of Destiny’s Child?

Tiwa Savage wasn’t a part of Destiny’s Child, a vibrant musical group back in the day made up of Kelly Rowland, Beyonce and Michelle Williams. However, the Nigerian songstress has deep roots in American RnB since she backed up star-rated artists in this genre.

After completing her accounting degree – while still doing music as a backup singer – she met a drummer working with Black Eyed Peas music group. He challenged her to pursue music on a professional level and a young Tiwa was lucky to get a scholarship. She flew to the US to Boston’s Berkley College of Music where she studied music for four years and graduated in 2007.

With a year left on her student visa, she moved to Los Angeles where she recorded music and later moved to New York. It is while in a New York studio that she met Fantasia and she linked her up with Sony Music in 2009 who paid and gave her a lucrative contract. Using this money, she moved back to Los Angeles where she met more RnB singers such as Whitney Houston, Kelly Clarkson, Eminem among others. Through these international R&B artists, she backed up many other American artists which is what links her to Destiny’s Child.

Is Tiwa Savage Signed To Sony Music?

Although Sony Music played a huge role in shaping Tiwa Savage music career since 2009, she left the label in 2016. She had moved back to Nigeria and was also in a label partnership with Mavin Record which she also left in 2016 and ventured out as an independent artist.

It scared her but she admits that it was something she had to do for her development. In 2019 though, she signed with Universal Music.

Which Record Label Is Tiwa Savage?

Tiwa Savage music

Tiwa Savage. Photo/CNN

The ‘Somebody’s Son’ singer is currently signed with Universal Music after a few years of being an independent artist. Her decision to leave Mavin Records and Sony Music wasn’t because there was bad blood. Rather, it was a decision geared towards furthering Tiwa Savage music career.

Before her return to Nigeria, she was with Sony Music and stayed with the label for years even after signing with Don Jazzy’s Mavin Records. When she left the US for Nigeria, she wanted to pursue Afrobeats and not RnB which she was doing back in the US. She sought several labels – including Mo’Hits which then rebranded to Mavin Records – and they all turned her down.

However, after a lot of pushing, Don Jazzy signed her to the label where she went full-blown in Nigeria’s music industry. Beyonce reached out to her in 2019 for a collaboration in her Lion King project which earned Tiwa the moniker ‘The Beyonce of Africa’.

In addition, in July 2022, the University of Kent awarded her an honorary doctorate degree in music for her efforts in changing Naija’s music industry.


When she looks back at what is now Tiwa Savage music career, she is simply humbled. She sang her first solo at 31 despite having a career as a backup singer as a teenager and she is proud of the far she is now.

About the author

Teresa Mwangi

Teresa is a journalist with years of experience in creating web content. She is a wanderlust at heart, loves travelling and telling stories about tour and travel in Africa by every angle.

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