Top 6 Nigerian Music Legends Who Were Once Backup Singers


In the dynamic world of Nigerian music, legends are born from the most unexpected beginnings. These icons began their musical journey as unsung heroes, supporting other stars from the shadows before eventually stepping into the spotlight themselves.

Nigerian music, like any other, comes with its fair share of challenges and aspirations. Breaking into the limelight isn’t just about talent; it’s about seizing the right opportunities and rising above the odds. This article not only celebrates the lives of these legends but also serves as a source of inspiration for emerging artists facing their trials and tribulations.

Our exploration into their extraordinary journeys is guided by expertise, offering an in-depth look into the complexities of the Nigerian music scene. We’ll reveal how they transformed from background vocalists to beloved music icons, providing you with unique insights and a deeper appreciation for their art.

This article is for everyone who loves music, enjoys history, or is simply curious about the amazing stories of Nigerian music legends. We understand your love for music and the inspiring stories that led these legends to stardom. By the end of this article, we hope to connect with you and leave you feeling inspired by the incredible journeys these legends have taken.

1. 2face Idibia

2Face Idibia’s journey to stardom began in the most unexpected places. Before he became the music sensation we all know today, he, along with the other members of Plantashun Boiz, started their careers as backup singers. Surprisingly, their early days were spent harmonizing behind another renowned Nigerian artist, Weird MC.

In a revealing interview with producer Morgan Greenstreet at 2Face’s home in 2017, he recalled their humble beginnings. When asked if they were on Dove Records, 2Face candidly responded, “We met Nelson Brown through Weird MC. There was this artist called Weird MC, and she was big! We used to do backup singing for her back in the day.”

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This revelation shines a light on the shared background of 2Face Idibia and his Plantashun Boiz bandmates as backup singers for Weird MC. It’s a testament to the remarkable journey of these artists, who would go on to become some of Nigeria’s most celebrated music icons.

2. Wizkid

Wizkid’s rise to superstardom is a testament to his extraordinary talent and unwavering determination. Long before he became the international sensation we know today, he began his journey in the music industry as a backup singer and hypeman.

Banky W, a prominent figure in the Nigerian music scene, recognized Wizkid’s potential and signed him as a backup singer and hypeman. However, Wizkid’s journey didn’t stop there. His true talent as a singer was soon revealed, and he caught the attention of many.

His big break came when he was signed to Empire Mates Entertainment (E.M.E), a record label owned by Banky W. In 2010, Wizkid released his debut single, “Holla at Your Boy,” which instantly became a massive hit. The song catapulted him into the limelight, and there was no turning back from there.

3. Tiwa Savage

Tiwa Savage’s journey to becoming a leading force in Nigerian music holds a remarkable secret that many may not be aware of. Before she launched her solo music career in Nigeria, Tiwa Savage’s incredible talent was put to use as a backup singer for some of the world’s biggest music icons.

In a little-known chapter of her career, Tiwa Savage provided backing vocals for a star-studded list of artists, including Whitney Houston, George Michael, Mary J. Blige, Kelly Clarkson, Eminem, Destiny’s Child, and many more. 

Her extraordinary vocal abilities were the secret ingredient behind the success of these renowned artists. Her journey is not just a story of a backup singer’s transition to stardom but also a testament to the boundless potential that lies within determined individuals.

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4. Timaya

Timaya’s journey to becoming a significant figure in the Nigerian music industry began in a somewhat unexpected role – as a backup singer for renowned Nigerian artist Eedris Abdulkareem. This pivotal early experience laid the foundation for his future success in the music world.

Transitioning from a backup singer to a solo artist, Timaya carved his path to stardom. His distinctive sound and captivating stage presence soon won him a dedicated fan base. He has since become a prominent name in Nigerian music, known for his hit songs and unique style.

It’s worth noting that there was a public exchange between Timaya and Eedris Abdulkareem, where Eedris Abdulkareem called Timaya an ingrate. Eedris Abdulkareem claimed to have played a role in Timaya’s rise to fame and expressed disappointment that Timaya hadn’t similarly supported other emerging artists, except for Patoranking.

In response, Timaya candidly highlighted his experience as a backup artist and questioned Eedris Abdulkareem’s level of support for others. This exchange shed light on the challenges and dynamics within the music industry and showcased Timaya’s journey from a backup singer to a self-made success story.

5. Asake

Asake, the Nigerian music artist on the rise, has a musical journey that started with humble beginnings as a backup singer. While both a student at Obafemi Awolowo University, Asake lent his vocal talents as a backup singer for Blaqbonez, another budding artist.

Not stopping there, Asake’s journey as a backup singer continued, and he also contributed his vocal abilities as a backup singer for Broda Shaggi, another prominent figure in Nigerian entertainment. His time spent harmonizing in the background helped him develop his skills and passion for music.

Today, Asake is making waves in the Nigerian music scene with his unique sound and style. His transition from being a backup singer during his college days to becoming a rising star showcases his dedication and growth as an artist.

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6. Wande Coal

Wande Coal’s journey from obscurity to becoming a prominent music artist in Nigeria is a story of destiny and determination. He first crossed paths with the legendary duo D’banj and Don Jazzy when they graced the stage at a concert held at the University of Lagos (Unilag).

Following their chance encounter, Wande Coal’s life took a transformative turn. He started his journey as one of D’banj’s dancers, showcasing his impressive stage presence and a natural flair for entertainment. However, it didn’t stop there. Wande Coal’s incredible vocal talent was soon discovered, and he transitioned into the role of a backup singer for D’banj.

This period as a backup singer was pivotal in Wande Coal’s journey to stardom. He honed his vocal skills and gained valuable experience, all while working with one of Nigeria’s most celebrated music icons. It was this experience that eventually propelled him into the spotlight as a solo music artist.


In celebrating the journeys of these Nigerian music legends, we find a common thread of hard work, determination, and seizing opportunities. These six artists, once backup singers, have risen to become icons in their own right.

2Face Idibia, Wizkid, Tiwa Savage, Timaya, Asake, and Wande Coal have shown that even the greatest talents often start in the background. Their stories are a testament to the power of passion and perseverance.

As we applaud their achievements, let’s remember that their paths from namelessness to stardom can inspire us all. In the ever-evolving Nigerian music industry, these artists have proven that with talent and tenacity, anyone can climb to the top.