South Africa's Tyla and Nigeria's Ayra Starr are award-winning musicians whose careers are just taking off. / Photo: TRT Afrika

By Brian Okoth

South Africa's Tyla is 22 years old and Nigeria's Ayra Starr is 21 years old. The two ladies have achieved major feats for their age.

Tyla is the youngest African artiste to have ever won a Grammy Award, joining an elite group of Grammy recipients that has South Africa's Miriam Makeba, Benin's Angelique Kidjo, Nigeria's Wizkid and Burna Boy, among others.

Tyla's song "Water", which has more than 600 million streams on Spotify and over 170 million views on YouTube, saw her beat heavyweights Burna Boy and Davido to the 2024 Grammy Award for Best African Music Performance. She was crowned in February.

Her major single "Water" also became the first solo song by a South African musician to appear on the Billboard Hot 100 chart since Hugh Masekela's "Grazing in the Grass" in 1968.

South African Tyla's diverse heritage includes Indian, Zulu and Irish roots. / Photo: Reuters

'Queen of popiano'

Tyla is fondly referred to as the "queen of popiano", a fusion of pop and amapiano music genres.

Now, let us bring in Ayra Starr.

The Nigerian was also nominated for Best African Music Performance award in the 2024 Grammys, a title that went to her peer, Tyla.

Ayra has won at least two awards, including The Headies Award for Best Female Artiste of 2023. She beat her compatriots Tiwa Savage and Simi to the title.

Nigeria's Ayra Starr was born in Benin's Cotonou city on June 14, 2002. / Photo: Reuters

Major hit single 'Rush'

The hit single "Rush" has brought her substantial success.

The song has at least 358 million streams on Spotify, and has more than 340 million views on YouTube.

But who are these two budding queens of the modern-day African music?

Tyla was born on January 30, 2002 in South Africa's Johannesburg city. Her diverse heritage includes Indian, Zulu and Irish roots.

Tyla has always wanted to be a singer, according to her revelation in a past interview. / Photo: Getty Images

'Always wanted to be a singer'

Her birth name is Tyla Laura Seethal, and she is the middle child in a family of five children.

She studied at Edenglen High School in Johannesburg, and thereafter enrolled for a degree in mining engineering, but dropped out of college to pursue a career in music.

In an interview with "Metal Magazine", she said her dream career had always been music.

In her exact words, she said: "Ever since I could say the word 'singer', it was all I told people I wanted to be."

Nigeria's Ayra Starr has a bachelor's degree in political science. / Photo: AFP

Ayra Starr: Born in Benin

Tyla says that her mantra is: "While people are sleeping, keep working and you will reap the rewards."

On TikTok, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, she has a combined following of 15.4 million.

Now, let us turn to Ayra Starr.

The Nigerian was born in Benin's Cotonou city on June 14, 2002 in a family of four children. Her birth name is Oyinkansola Sarah.

A family of artists

Ayra's family later moved to Lagos and Abuja cities in Nigeria.

In an interview published on the International Center for Investigative Reporting website in May 2023, she said one of her brothers is a video director, the other is a songwriter, and her sister is a model.

According to Ayra, her mathematics teacher encouraged her to pursue a career in music, and in 2021 Mavin Records, which was founded by Nigeria's Don Jazzy, signed her.

The Afrobeats musician is a holder of bachelor's degree in political science from Benin's Les Cours Sonou University.

Ayra has nearly 14 million followers across the major social media platforms.

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TRT Afrika