You’ve probably heard her single “Away” that took the the internet by storm. The new Mavin Records recruit for some is an untapped act whose Instagram freestyles they enjoyed, but for most people, she’s a new name and voice.
With an impressive range Ayra Starr’s lyricism propounded with her her raw, unfiltered thoughts which for many represents the young Nigerian generation. The track “Away” breaks free free from the traditional break up your probably used to. She explains: “I freestyled half of ‘Away’ at a time I was feeling down. It was like therapy. Singing the song out loud was like freeing myself from my burden. ‘Away’ is not just a heartbreak song, it’s a song that empowers you to stand up to that thing or person that is causing you sadness.”
With other tracks like “Sare” Ayra brings to life West African music tradition without a wistful relapse. Below, five things you likely didn’t know about Ayra Starr:
1. Ayra Starr isn’t her real name. Arya is native of is a native of Edo state, sothern Nigeria like fellow artiste Rema. Her real name is Onyinkansola Aderibigbe. She grew up between Lagos and Cotonou.
2. She is just 18 years old. With a melodic voice like Arya’s you wouldn’t have guessed her age right. Being 18 and in the music scene drifts away from what usually seen in an African home. But unlike many West-African teens, Ayra wasn’t forced to play it safe when it came to choosing a career but was pushed to follow her dreams. We have her mother to thank for pushing her to follow her dreams.
3. Despite her range, Arya has had no formal vocal training. After initially avoiding to take music seriously, she finally gave in at the age of 17, learning her craft from the internet. Arya tells NME “I never went for any formal training; I would just go on YouTube. It would take months to learn things, it was very challenging”. She continues, “but I like a challenge!”
4. She started dropping videos of herself singing early as 2019. Once Ayra Starr felt skilled enough, she started covering songs by artists like 2Face Idibia and Andra Day on her Instagram – as well as her own songs which were hard at first.
5. It was her original song ‘Damage’ that got the attention of Don Jazzy. Ayra went from producing covers in her bedroom to sitting in a music studio and has produced her first EP throough Don Jazzy’s Mavins Record which over the years has fostered talents like Tiwa Savage, Rema and Wande Coal.
6. She draws inspiration from her dad. Though late now, Ayra describes him as the real OG. According to an instagram post she captioned: “My dad was a Go getter , he lived his life the way he wanted , created his own rules and was unapologetic about it , he was the real O.G . If I have learnt anything during this past week is that there is no template to life , live your life the way you want because at the end of the day you go alone.
On Sunday I knew I had a choice to stay home all through and cry about how unfair his death was or change the situation into an inspiration like my father always did , so I chose the latter.”
7. Ayra Starr sings a blend of Afropop, Afrobeats and RnB. Fans have compared her music with that of fellow artist Tems but either way, she has an undeniably strong and unique voice. For Arya her music is just not one genre.
8. Ayra Starr once decribe herself as celestial bieng, “heart made of glass and my mind of stone”.
9. Arya Starr was also very active during the End Sars Protest.
10. She was told that it’s dangerous for women in the music industry. Its no doubt that in the past women have been historically sidelined. With stars like Tiwa Savage, Yemi Alade, Tems etc and now Arya with her lead single ‘Away’, has helped African women reclaim power. The Away music video features Dahomey Warriors (an all-female military regiment from the present Benin Republic) which for Arya wanted to tap into my new-found independence and power.