Once upon a time, music reality/Talent shows TV shows were popular in Nigeria, and some Nigerian Artists emerged from these shows, making their mark on the Nigerian Industry.
Talent shows are one of the doors to the Nigerian music industry. While their importance has declined over the past few years, they were a healthy ground for talent showcase, a strong way to unite families for primetime TV, a test of talent veracity, and a breeding ground for potential artists.
While most of these talented contestants never really make the grade in terms of mainstream success, some have defied the odds. They have transcended the limitations of talent shows to have full-fledged music careers.
We have curated a list of Nigerian Artists that emerged from the talent shows;
Chike first participated in the Nigerian reality competition Project Fame West Africa in 2015 but was eliminated after making the Top 10.
In 2016, he joined the first season of The Voice Nigeria where he finished as runner-up on the show.
In 2006, Dakolo auditioned for the inaugural season of the reality show Idols West Africa in Calabar.
Timi Dakolo’s songs of choice were Commissioned’s More Than I and Lemar’s Time to Grow. His vocals impressed the judges, and he was seen as a contender for the prize.
He emerged winner and with his victory, he got a recording contract with Sony BMG, in addition to other prizes.
Praiz worked as a music producer rose to fame when he emerged as second runner-up in the popular musical reality show, MTN Project Fame in 2008, a show which Iyanya went on to win.
The 2002 Edition of Star Quest was the first and last event that was held until ‘Star The Winner Is’ recently became a thing. That particular event was packed with future stars. Nigga Raw competed against Asa, KC Presh and a few others.
After the event, it took Nigga Raw a while to get on his feet. But when he finally did, he made himself a pioneer of indigenous rap and a legend of Nigerian Hip-Hop. His sophomore album, Everything Remains Raw is a cult classic.
In 2010, she rose to stardom after winning the third season of Project Fame West Africa.
She was among the eight thousand contestants that went that year to showcase their talents. Subsequently, Chidinma joined 17 other contestants in the Fame Academy round. For 10 weeks, Chidinma and the other contestants were coached by musical professionals: voice coaches, inspirational speakers, established musicians, and music business service providers.
She won a number of prizes, including ₦2.5 million, a 2011 Toyota RAV4, and a production deal. She also made history by being the first woman to win the show.
Omawumi rose to prominence as a contestant on Idols West Africa. Omawumi was voted the 1st runner-up of the competition when it ended in May 2007.
After her stint in the show, she has created five albums in a career that’s still going.
Before Ice prince became popular with his hit song, “Oleku‘, he won the 2009 Hennessy Artistry Club Tour.
After the show, he joined Chocolate City alongside his brothers M.I Abaga and Jesse Jagz and the rest is history.
In 2008, KCee from KC Presh convinced Iyanya to partake in the first season of Project Fame West Africa.
Iyanya took the advice and emerged as the winner of the competition after battling numerous people who had the same aspirations as him.
The 2008 MTN-sponsored Project Fame competition was the beginning of Iyanya’s musical career. Unlike many people who dwindle after a major competition, Iyanya’s success had just begun.
This might have escaped your notice, but Johnny Drille was once a contestant of MTN Project Fame, Season 6.
Who knew at the time that he’d end becoming part of Mavin Records, years later? Now, Johnny Drille soothes our romantic soul with his numerous love songs.
Ironically, Drille didn’t have a win in Project Fame. But his love for music and his zest for doing a cover of other artists songs got attention.
Not many people know that in 2002, Asa was part of the talents that participated in The Star Quest.
Though she didn’t win, her moment was to arrive around three years later when she met super-producer, Cobhams Asuquo with whom she collaborated on her award-winning self-titled debut album.T
KCee met Presh in church some years earlier and together they formed the defunct KC Presh. In 2020 they entered The Star Quest competition where they competed against Asa, Nigga Raw and a few others.
KC Presh won and they signed on to Kennis Music, where they released hits like ‘Sengemenge,’ ‘Shokori Bobo’ and ‘Ebingwori.’ They released two albums together and won a Channel O Music Award in 2005. After a while, they separated and KCee has since gone on to have a fantastic solo career.
In 2012, his single, ‘Limpopo’ was arguably the biggest African song for one year.
Niniola was the third runner up on the Project Fame West Africa in 2013. Before that, she had been on two previous talent shows. The 1.5 Million Naira she won from the show she invested into her music career.
Mercy Chinwo was a 22-year-old when she competed in the 2012 Nigerian Idol Season 2, while she was singing secular music.
A few years later, she’s one of the biggest artists in Africa. In 2019, one of her songs was one of the most-streamed Nigerian records on YouTube.
These days, she is a household name who is known for her mesmerizing stage performances and incredible vocal range and vocal performances, especially in the Gospel music circle.
During her university education, Yemi Alade took part in a TV talent show called Peak Talent Show where she emerged the winner in 2009. That was Alade’s debut appearance on TV and where she gained popularity.
After winning the talent show it took her a few years to find her feet. She finally did with ‘Johnny,’ a groundbreaking African hit in 2013. She has soared in popularity, evolved into an artist with impeccable stagecraft and a pan-African identity.
At a point, P-square was a dominating force in the music industry. In 2001, P-Square won the “Grab Da Mic” competition, and the late great music promoter Bayo ‘Howie T’ Odusanmi signed them to Timbuktu Music under which they released their Benson & Hedges sponsored debut album, titled ‘Last Nite‘.