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Young afrobeats star Ayra Starr taking the world by storm

Rush-hitmaker and former model dreams of a collab with Rihanna

Masego Seemela Online journalist
Nigerian singer Ayra Starr talks about her budding singing career.
Nigerian singer Ayra Starr talks about her budding singing career.
Image: Chuchu Ojekwe

The soothing yet catchy Afrobeats sound of Nigerian megastar Ayra Starr is taking the world by storm.

Real name Oyinkansola Sarah Aderibigbe, the 20-year-old songbird is only at the teething stage of her musical journey and has acquired an idiosyncratic sound that listeners cant get enough of.

The Rush hit-maker started her career in fashion as a model at the age 16, before going viral for doing covers on Instagram. But her turning point came in 2019, when she posted her first original song, Toxic, on the platform with it catching the attention of record executive Don Jazzy. Before long she was signed to Mavin Records.

She went on to release her first self-titled EP in January 2021. Since then she has established a fresh and honest sound with lyricism that glides effortlessly between R&B, Afrobeats, Afrofunk, and neo-soul.

SMag caught gets to know the budding musician:

Why the name Ayra Starr? 

It means woke and eye-opening, and thats what I stand for. 

You started off your career in the world of fashion, why did you decide to trade that for music?

I wouldn’t say I traded it, I went into modelling because I wanted a job to be able to generate an income. I grew an interest in fashion design because my mother was pedantic about the importance to learn something during the holidays as well as during your free time – this way I don’t spend all my time playing.

I enjoyed this phase in my life because this was something I absolutely loved doing. I would say, it undoubtedly had an impact on who I am today but music has always been something I and everyone around me knew I was incredibly good at, I was talented and the talent is good enough to help me live my purpose– so it's a win-win.

At which age did you know you could sing?

Not to sound cliché but as young as I could talk. I was that little kid who was always singing with family, and friends.

Singer and songwriter Ayra Starr.
Singer and songwriter Ayra Starr.
Image: Chuchu Ojekwe

How would you describe your journey as a singer?

It’s been a learning curve for me in all aspects and to see my growth is very humbling.

What’s your reaction to the amount of attention you’re receiving from the international audience?

Blessed and incredibly grateful. I get to contribute my quota to the world by doing one of the things I love the most.

What would you say has been the highlight of your career thus far?

Funny thing is, the highlights keep changing every season – so I cant really point out one.

If you could choose to collaborate with someone, who would it be?

Rihanna, I’ve been in love with her since I can remember.

Image: scrdofme

Who would you say is your muse?

My family, they’ve been with me throughout my journey and they inspire me quite a lot.

What are your hopes and dreams?

I’d say being able to reach and touch more people with my music, to establish a bigger audience, to be able to perform on bigger stages, and more importantly, getting better at my craft and making more happy and relatable music.

What would you like people to remember you for?

Of all the things I can do, I would like to be remembered as someone who inspired people to live authentically, I would love to be remembered as someone who poured into other people's cups positively.

Image: scrdofme

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