This blog entry is upon request to list the Top 10 African female vocalists. I am going to consider those who've been singing in the last 2 to 3 years, thus eliminating legends like Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Nayanka Bell, Miriam Makeba, etc. In determining this order, I took into consideration, pure singing, artiste popularity, song popularity, demand for shows/concerts, award recognition, amongst others. It's very subjective. I also took out the groups with more than one member. This is not scientific and this list is adjudged by a committee of one. Let's get into the countdown.
10. Amani (Kenya) - Amani is one of the biggest female stars in Africa and was nominated for a few Channel O awards. She's a little bit more pop than rhythm and blues but I love her work on 'Tonight' and 'Missing my baby'. You can see her singing prowess when she collaborates with others, on songs like Ninanoki, Usiwe mbali, etc
9. Siphokazi (South Africa) - Siphokazi is not the most popular Mzansi singer but it may argued that she's the best. She shined on Black Coffee's Lo mhlaba and her own Amacala.
8. Suzanna Lubrano (Cape Verde) - This is one musician Zouk and Cabo-love lovers would know. Tudo pa bo is fantastic and she showed she could do R&B well on her Saida album.
7. Ary (Angola) - This is one of my favorite African singers now. Teu grande amor is one of the best songs I've heard in a while and it's amongst the top played on my iPod. Everytime, I hear it, it makes me want to dance. Songs like this and voices like that of Ary's make up the number two reason I want to go to Angola :-).
6. Zamajobe (South Africa) - This soulful jazzy singer made a name for herself singing into the hearts of Southern Africans. Ndawo yami is great, but have you heard Magic? The song speaks for itself - magic. Her newest album (with Nokuthula) hasn't gotten the same popularity of her debut but it's still great.
5. Wahu (Kenya) - Of all the ladies in this list, Wahu was the one who I heard sing first. She's come a long way since her pop days to her present reign as MTV Africa's best female musician. You've heard Sweet love but Running low shows her singing ability to the fullest.
4. Lira (South Africa) - Lira is having an awesome 2009 as she picked up 4 South African Music Awards. She's been nominated for a bunch of Channel O awards too. Her 'Feel Good' track won her fans all over the world and she's done even better with her most recent album, with 'Wa Mpaleha' leading the way. Her brithday song sang for Nelson Mandela is probably the best I've heard, it's lekker!
3. Becca (Ghana) - I've heard Becca sing in person offstage and I was blown away. To think, I knew her before she became famous also blows my mind :-) She started out in a singing competition like many of these singers but she didn't need it. When 'U lied to me' came out, Ghanaians knew R&B had arrived on their music scene. You should also hear 'I love you', and Daa ke daa
2. Asa (Nigeria) - You were wondering where the Nigerians wear? Here is Naija's finest - Asha. I can listen to this lady all day, she's definitely my favorite African singer. She can make sad songs sound joyful. I saw her perform live and if you think her mellow, soulful style drove us to bed, think again, and it had us singing along and clapping. Check out The Place to be, Bi'banke, Jailer and Eiye Adaba.
1. Juliana (Uganda) - Who could upstage Asa here? It's Africa's Whitney Houston. I am not even a big fan of Juliana Kanyomozi (like some of these other singers) but I think she's Africa's best singer today. We know South Africans can sing, but Uganda's singers are doing it big too and they match the Mzansis boot for boot. Just listen to Kanyimbe, Usiende mbali and Nabikoowa.
Before y'all jump out to get me, I tried my best and I am no singing teacher, neither have been the main soloist in any choir. Just send your reactions through comments below or do your own post.
Here are some of the musicians who just missed the cut are Perola (Angola) (who sang my current favorite Presta Atencao), Lizha James (Mozambique), Cindy (Uganda), Ray C (Tanzania), Lady Jaydee (Tanzania), Yola Araujo, Mampi (Zambia) , Mayra Andrade (Cape Verde), Jane (Ghana), Irene (Ghana), Nikki (Kenya), Teeyah (Cote d'ivoire) and Barbara Kanam.