Tiwatope Savage (born 5 February 1980), known professionally as Tiwa Savage , is a Nigerian singer, songwriter and actress. Born in Isale Eko , she relocated to London at the age of 11 for her secondary education. Five years later, she began her music career doing backup vocals for artists such as George Michael and Mary J. Blige. After participating in the UK edition of The X Factor and graduating from Berklee College of Music, Savage signed a publishing deal with Sony/ATV Music Publishing in 2009. Inspired by the growth of the Nigerian music industry, Savage moved back to Nigeria and signed with Mavin Records in 2012. She made an appearance on the label’s 2012 compilation album Solar Plexus.
Her debut studio album Once Upon a Time was released on 3 July 2013. It was supported by seven singles: ” Kele Kele Love “, “Love Me (3x)”, “Without My Heart”, “Ife Wa Gbona”, “Folarin”, “Olorun Mi” and ” Eminado “.
The album was nominated for Best Album of the Year at the
2014 Nigeria Entertainment Awards and for Best R&B/Pop Album at The Headies 2014. Savage’s second studio album R.E.D was released on 19 December 2015. It yielded two singles: “My Darlin” and “Standing Ovation”. In June 2016, Savage signed a management and publishing deal with Roc Nation . In September 2017, she released her debut EP Sugarcane . R.E.D and Sugarcane have both been nominated for Best Album at the Nigeria Entertainment Awards.
In November 2018, Savage won Best African Act at the 2018 MTV Europe Music Awards , becoming the first woman to win the category. In May 2019, she announced her record deal with Universal Music Group and exit from Mavin Records.Savage sings in English and Yoruba; her music is a blend of Afrobeats , R&B , pop and hip-hop .
Savage’s contributions to the Nigerian music industry have earned her several
achievements . She has been involved in youth empowerment and breast cancer screening projects and has raised funds to build schools in Nigeria.
1980–2009: Early life, career beginnings and songwriting
Tiwatope Savage was born on 5 February 1980, in Isale Eko, Lagos State , Nigeria.Her family relocated to London when she was 11 years old. While attending secondary school, she was a trombone player for her school’s orchestra band. Savage graduated with a degree in accounting from the University of Kent , and started working at The Royal Bank of Scotland . She did backup vocals for English singer George Michael at the age of 16, and lent vocals to other musicians such as Mary J. Blige, Chaka Khan , Blu Cantrell , Emma Bunton , Kelly Clarkson , Andrea Bocelli and Ms. Dynamite .
Savage enrolled at Berklee College of Music and graduated with a degree in professional music in 2007.While reminiscing about her experiences there, she said she was motivated by the drive and passion of the younger students. She also said she needed the school’s atmosphere.
In 2006, Savage participated in the UK edition of The X Factor and advanced to the final 24, but ended up being the 12th person to be evicted.While participating, she had difficulty dealing with the limelight. She said, “You have to always realize that people are watching. When I got the bad news that I wasn’t getting through [to the final 12] it was a really painful time. But you still have to learn how to hold that until you get home. Because you don’t want to just let everything out. People admire you and want to see that you’re strong; they don’t want to see you breaking down.”
In 2009, Savage signed a publishing deal with Sony/ATV Music Publishing. The deal allowed her to write for Babyface , Kat Deluna, Fantasia,
Monica and Mýa . She has received songwriting credits for her contribution to Monica’s soul-tinged ballad “Catch Me”.Her collaboration with Fantasia on the song “Collard Greens & Cornbread” earned the American recording artist a Grammy nomination in 2010. Savage wrote
Jaicko ‘s “Oh Yeah”, featuring Snoop Dogg , and Deluna’s ” Push Push”, featuring Akon . She performed background vocals on Whitney Houston’s album I Look to You (2009).
Inspired by the growth of the Nigerian music industry, Savage moved back to Nigeria and signed with Mavin Records in 2012.
2010–2013: Once Upon a Time , record deal and endorsements Main article: Once Upon a Time (Tiwa Savage album)
In December 2011, Savage co-hosted the second season of Nigerian Idol alongside IllRymz.
She made her film debut with Joke Silva and Ireti Doyle in the stage adaptation of For Coloured Girls . Savage established the 323 Entertainment record label with her former manager and husband Tunji “Tee Billz” Balogun, to whom she got engaged on 5 February 2013.She joined
Mavin Records in 2012 and was one of the lead acts on the label’s compilation album Solar Plexus (2012). While attending Berklee College of Music, she networked with musicians Keith Harris , Derek Pate, Scott Coleman, Radar Ellis, and Darien Dorsey.
In an interview with journalist Brenda Pike, she said she collaborated with producers Chuck Harmony , Warren “Oak” Felder , and Sossick, among others. She said her debut studio album would include songs in her native tongue.Savage was featured on the remix of “Oyi” in 2012. Prior to collaborating with Flavour, she recorded her own version of the song. In celebration of the 52nd anniversary of Nigeria’s independence, Savage performed her rendition of ” Arise, O Compatriots” for Ndani Sessions. In November 2012, she collaborated with Waje , Praiz , Timi Dakolo and Pamela Egoh on the Ovation Red Carol theme song “Higher”.
Savage started recording her debut studio album Once Upon a Time in 2010. She held an album listening party at the Wheatbaker Hotel in Ikoyi in May 2013. During the listening party, she revealed the entire track list of the album and announced Iceberg Slim, Sarkodie and General Pype as featured acts.The album was released to the Nigerian public on 3 July 2013. It was released on iTunes a day before its official release. Savage named the album Once Upon a Time in order to portray the positive stories about her life. She said she wanted to motivate other upcoming artists by telling them that, once upon a time, she was a little girl in Isale Eko who dreamt of being a star. The album was supported by seven singles—” Kele Kele Love “, “Love Me (3x)”, “Without My Heart”, “Ife Wa Gbona”, “Folarin”, “Olorun Mi” and ” Eminado “. It also includes political songs like “Middle Passage”, which is about the struggles of African men in a foreign country. Once Upon a Time was nominated for Best Album of the Year at the 2014 Nigeria Entertainment Awards It was also nominated for Best R&B/Pop Album at The Headies 2014.
Savage has been involved in many youth empowerment and breast cancer screening projects across Nigeria. She helped raise money for an organisation that builds schools in her hometown. Savage signed an endorsement deal with MTN Nigeria in July 2013, reportedly worth ₦ 30 million. She also signed endorsement deals with Pepsi,Forte Oil and Maggi .
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