How Nigerian afrobeat stars dazzled on global stage

Supreme Desk
5 Jan 2024 11:59 AM GMT
How Nigerian afrobeat stars  dazzled on global stage
OBO, as Davido is fondly called, ended the year with another iconic feat as he made the 2024 Grammys nomination list, securing three nominations.

Afrobeat, a blend of African and Western influences, has evolved to become a huge export from Nigeria’s entertainment industry to the world.

Also known as Afrofunk, Afrobeet is a music genre that involves the combination of West African musical styles from mainly Nigeria, such as the traditional Yoruba and Igbo highlife, with American funk, jazz, and soul influences.

Although Afrobeat is acclaimed as having been popularised by the late Fela Kuti, a Nigerian singer and multi-instrumentalist, it has gained more international recognition and acceptance in recent times. It is now a force on the global stage.

In 2023, the Afrobeat vibe did not reduce its momentum as Nigerian artists held their spaces, churned out great songs, and held music tours across the globe, with crowds in attendance.

During the year, Nigerian singers undoubtedly lit up the global stage with the release of chart-topping songs and performances across cities around the world.

Although the list is not exhaustive, this piece is a retrospective look into how some Nigerian music stars stood out and dazzled with their songs on the global stage.

Burna Boy

The Grammy-winning superstar, Damini Ogulu, popularly known by his stage name Burna Boy, grabbed headlines in 2023 on account of his scintillating performances across Europe and America.

In the first half of the year, the acclaimed ‘African Giant’ embarked on his ‘Love, Damini’ World Tour, which took him to major cities across the world for concerts.

He became the first African artist to sell out a stadium in the United Kingdom after 60,000 fans came out to see him perform at the home of West Ham Football Club.

He was also at the huge Gelredome stadium in Arnhem, The Netherlands, for the second leg of his ‘Love Damini’ Stadium tour.

He thereafter performed at Citi Field in New York City for a crowd of 40,000 people, making him the first African artist to headline a stadium in the United States.

In the second half of the year, Burna Boy released his seventh studio album, titled “I Told Them," which earned him nominations for the 2024 Grammys.

The ‘African Giant’ thereafter announced the “I Told Them” world tour, a 16-city music tour that he started on November 3 with a concert in Los Angeles for one of his Arena stops.

As part of the tour, Burna Boy made another historic headline by becoming the first African artist to sell out the 17, 000-seat Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin, Germany.

The “Twice As Tall’ crooner joined Brazilian superstar Anitta alongside Swedish sensation Alesso to perform at the 2023 UEFA Champions League final at the Ataturk Stadium in Turkey.

Burna Boy became the first African artist to perform at the UEFA Champions League final, a moment so glamorous that he said “I know it does not get any bigger than the UEFA Champions League.

That’s why I am so excited to be performing on the Pepsi stage at this year’s final.”

In December, Burna Boy secured four nominations for the 2024 Grammys, including Best Melodic Rap, Best Global Music Performance, Best African Music Performance, and Best Global Music Album for the “I Told Them” album.


The stage for 2023 got set for Afrobeats sensation Divine Ikubor, popularly known as Rema, when his hit single “Calm Down” topped the chart as the number 1 song in India in January.

The remix featuring Selena Gomez also recorded the same feat, moving from number 8 to become the number one song on the Billboard Global Exclusive, a United States chart song, and a top collaboration.

The track reached number three on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking in June 2023.

It spent a total of 57 weeks on the chart, making Rema’s first song to crack the Hot 100 and the “Only Murders in the Building” star’s ninth top 10 hit on the tally.

In November, the song won Best Afrobeat Song at the 2023 Billboard Music Awards held in November and was ranked as the most'shazammed' song of 2023 globally.

“Calm Down” made history as the first African song to top the Global Shazam Year-End list, beating Miley Cyrus’ ‘Flowers’ and Lady Gaga’s ‘Bloody Mary', which ranked second and third, respectively.

The song stood at number 12 as the most streamed song in the world on Apple Music in 2023, as well as number 45 as the most streamed song of the year in the U.S. on Apple Music.

‘Calm Down’ became the number one hit on the world’s first regional streaming chart and the first-ever official chart in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), earning Rema a Guinness World Record.

In the United Kingdom, the song peaked at number three and spent 27 non-consecutive weeks in the Top 10 of the UK Singles Chart.

In October, 23-year-old Rema made history as the first African artist to perform at the prestigious Ballon d’Or ceremony when he thrilled the audience at the 2023 Ballon d’Or ceremony in Paris, France.

He also recorded the most appearances for an African artist on the 2023 Billboard Year-End Charts (34), including artists’ year-end charts, airplay, albums, and song chart entries.

He cemented his achievements for the year by winning the Song of the Year for his global smash “Calm Down” and then clinching the maiden “Best Afrobeats” Award at the 2023 MTV EMA Awards.


American-born Nigerian Afrobeat superstar, David Adeleke, aka Davido, has demonstrated that he is an Afrobeat ambassador to the world indeed.

In 2023, Davido, acclaimed to be the most followed Afrobeats artist across social media, released his fourth studio album, ‘Timeless’, which continued to break records for an African artist, streaming over 133 million in its first week.

The hit had the most first-day streams ever for an African album on Apple Music, an American audio and video streaming platform.

‘Timeless’ became Davido’s highest charting project, standing at number two on the Billboard World Music Chart, and he immediately produced three top charting singles from the project.

Then over 23 million tik-tok smashes, 'Unavailable', which debuted at number eight on Billboard’s Afrobeats chart, and ‘Over Dem', which debuted at number 10, followed closely behind by ‘Feel’ at number 11.

The “Unavailable” crooner was an electrifying force at the 2023 edition of the annual Afro Nation in Portugal, acclaimed to be the world’s biggest Afrobeat festival that celebrates Africans in Diaspora.

He performed on the last day of the three-day fiesta, which commenced on June 28, as 50 Cent, the Nigerian Fire Boy, and Vegedream, the French hip-hop and R&B singer, also performed during the night.

After the Afro Nation gig, Davido commenced his ‘Timeless’ North America tour on July 1, with a first-stop performance at the Capital One Arena in Washington, DC, USA.

OBO, as Davido is fondly called, ended the year with another iconic feat as he made the 2024 Grammy nomination list, securing three nominations.

He was nominated in the debuting Best African Music Performance category for his song “Unavailable,” featuring Musa Keys.

He also got nominated in the Best Global Music Performance category for his song 'Feel', and hishit album ‘Timeless’ received a nomination for the Best Global Music Album category.

Tiwa Savage

Among other appearances on the global stage in 2023, Tiwa Savage proved that she is indeed the “Queen of Afrobeat” when she gave an epic performance at King Charles III’s coronation concert in May.

It was indeed a history-making moment as Tiwa Savage thrilled the audience at Windsor Castle in England, making her the first Nigerian artist to perform at the royal coronation, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

The coronation concert was organised by the BBC, with over 20,000 people in attendance, while globally, over 18 million people viewed it.

A high point of her performance was the two ‘Bata’ (talking drums) drummers who came to play besides her, leaving the crowd in awe of the Afrobeat superstar.

Tiwa, who thrilled the audience with her scintillating tunes, rendered “Keys to the Kingdom,” a song she recorded with Mr. Eazi and featured on Beyoncé’s album “The Lion King, released in July 2019.

As 2024 progresses, music lovers across the world are hopeful that Nigerian artists will give them a treat with the release of hit songs and electrifying concerts in an awesome showcase of the Afrobeat genre.

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