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Niniola, An Unconventional Art By Keem Abdul

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Niniola

 

Soulful sound, distinct beat and a melodious voice are the first things you notice when Niniola’s song comes on. The Queen of Afro House transition into music began from her childhood days where as an introvert she found comfort playing with her parent’s records. She would imitate the musicians, try to sing in their voices and learn their songs by heart. This attribute earned her the title of a human Radio among her friends because she would sing and perform to songs requested by them, and any song she could not perform, Niniola would master it and perform. With this early introduction into the music industry, Niniola considered herself a star and saw herself making a career out of music easily. But, life had another story for her. 

Fueled by her drive to make a name for herself in the industry, Niniola began her tumultuous journey. She began to audition for televised TV shows in the country hoping to find her break but instead she almost got broken.  “I got my fair share of you are not good enough’’ which would have tampered anyone’s spirit. She auditioned for West African Idol, The Voice Nigeria and X-factor but alas she found herself getting NOs and countless rejection.  Filled with a broken spirit and exhausted from the endless rejection, Niniola temporarily stopped doing music, her thought filled with the notion that music may not be for her until when she decided to tried again and made it on to Project Fame West Africa where she emerged as the third runner up. 

Nigeria’s Queen of Afro House journey into music can be regarded as a lopsided one, filled with aching disappointments and self-doubt before she found her break.  Inspired by her latest win and with the prize money from the show, Niniola sought a partner who would complement her dream of turning her fame into a career. After running checks online to find the best man fit for the job, she chose Sarz- a renowned music producer who made the first beat that skyrocketed her into becoming one of the most distinct sounds across the continent.  

In 2014, Niniola released her first hit track “Ibadi” and introduced a new genre of music called “AFRO HOUSE” a blend of Afrobeat and House Music. This single rendered in Yoruba and English language, had a subtle vibe of pushy dance floor music became a hit in the country and earned her a nomination in 2015 for the Most Promising Act to watch at the 2015 Nigerian Entertainment Award. 

While it is inspiring that Niniola built a brand from a genre not native to Nigeria at a time when Afrobeat was the rave of the moment, Niniola only wanted a sound that would give her the freedom to sing and do music by her own rules. Blessed with a resonant vocal range that can shatter a glass and keep you on your feet, Niniola’s sound was influenced by Dolly Patron, Don Moen , Whitney Houston and Beyonce, artistes she had listened to countless times on her parent’s record and tried to emulate growing up. 

Although Ibadi was the hit song that brought Niniola to limelight, the Queen of Afro House did not stop there, she reintroduced herself with the hit track Soke accompanied with a video which revealed her thrilling dance moves, her striking good looks and sensual vibes. 

In 2017 she released a debut album This is Me which got local and international recognition. The album was nominated multiple times at the 2018 Headies, in the same month it was released became the Apple Music’s New Artist of The Month and became famous among International acts like DJ snake, Diplo, Timbaland and Black Coffee. 

The hit track “Maradona and Sicker” became the most famous songs on that album.  Maradona a dance hall track expressed in a rich melodious sound and rhythmic sound was widely accepted all over the world although rendered in a fluid mix of Yoruba and Pidgin became a Number One track in South Africa consecutively and was nominated for the Best African Artist Album at the South African Music Awards 2018. Some elements of the hit song Maradona was sampled by Beyonce for her work on Lion King which got nominated for the Grammy awards, which earned her a Grammy certificate. 

The Queen of Afro House is known for her originality and Afrikanness and over the past couple of years has grown that reputation. For Niniola music is about expressing yourself in your own terms, this freedom being the confidence she emulates when she sings, her language centered on English, Yoruba and Pidgin.  This style coupled with her genre of music stands her out from the crowd in a world where everybody is obsessed with the idea of creating concepts, following the trend or being artistic, Niniola simply wants to make music in the simplistic way possible. 

In 2020 she released her most recent album Colours and Sounds a diverse album with sounds for her different audience all over the world. The Queen of Afro House dedicated the album to her diverse audience made up of people from different colors, values and sounds that embodies different genre of music. True to its name the album Colours and Sounds featured acts from Sauti Sol, Afro B, Nonso Amadi, Sarz, Kel P, Timbaland and Grammy nominated Teflon Zincfence. The album features sounds that showcase the versatility of African’s Dance Songs. 

The 33 year old songwriter and singer hails from Ekiti state, the South Western part of the country and is the older sister of Teni a popular singer.  Niniola is the daughter of Late Simeon Apata a retired Nigerian Army Brigader-General a man who she attributes her values to and who she says has influenced her humanitarian acts of service. 

The Queen of Afro House achievements over the period of years bears testament to the fact that she is a blooming flower and what we have witnessed so far is only the tip of the ice berg. We believe there is more to her greatness and we cannot wait to see her bloom. 

 

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