Iyanya Onoyom Mbuk popularly known by his stage name as Iyanya is a famous Nigerian singer, songwriter, recording artist, stage performer and a model. He was born on 31st October 1986 in Palm Street in Calabar, Cross River State in the south southern part of Nigeria. He is currently 31 years old.
His mother was a head mistress in a primary school and his father was a forester. Iyanya during an interview has described his mother as the household disciplinarian while his father was the gentler of the two. Unfortunately, his parents died in 2008, his mother died at the age of 42 years old and his father died at the age of 50 years old.
Iyanya’s elder brother died around the same time of his parents’ death. Iyanya’s grandfather was a clergyman. Iyanya used to sing in his local church’s choir and was the choirmaster for the children’s choir at the age of 5 years old.
Iyanya is originally from Calabar in Cross River State in the south southern part of Nigeria, where he completed both his primary and secondary school education and obtained both his First School Leaving Certificate and West African Senior School Certificate.
After completing his primary and secondary school education, Iyanya proceeded to University of Calabar in Cross River State, Nigeria and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management. He started his music career in 2008.
Iyanya rose to fame after winning the first season of MTN Project Fame West Africa and is best known for his hit single “Kukere”. In 2011, he co-founded the record label “Made Men Music Group” with Ubi Franklin. Also, in 2011, he released his first debut studio album “My Story” with top singles like “No Time” and “Love Truly” amongst others.
In 2013, Iyanya released his second debut studio album “Desire” with hit singles like “Kukere”, “Ur Waist”, “Flavour”, “Sexy Mama”, and “Jombolo” amongst others. In 2013, Iyanya won the award for Artist of the Year at The Headies Awards.
In July 2016, Iyanya announced his intentions to leave Made Men Music Group. In October 2016, Iyanya announced via Instagram that he has signed a record deal contract with Mavin Records headed by Don Jazzy after signing a management deal with Temple Management Company months before.
After graduating from the University of Calabar, Iyanya worked in a hotel and sang Karaoke at a local bar he managed. Iyanya began developing his vocal abilities at local bars which include: Fiesta Fries Bar, Mirage Nite Club and West-Life all in Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria.
Iyanya cited British singer Craig David and American hip hop artist R. Kelly as his key musical influencers and role models. Iyanya was motivated to pursue music professionally after watching the celebrity lifestyle of 2Face Idibia and Olu Maintain. Iyanya started his music career as a rapper, going by the stage name “Lofty”.
In 2008, Nigerian musician Kcee convinced Iyanya to partake in the first season of the MTN Project Fame West Africa. Iyanya emerged the winner of the competition after battling numerous people who had the same aspirations as him. The 2008 MTN-sponsored Project Fame West Africa competition was the beginning of Iyanya’s musical career. According to Iyanya, his path to success wasn’t an easy one.
After winning MTN’s Project Fame West Africa, Iyanya began recording his debut album “My Story”. His first debut studio album “My Story” was released by CN Media Imprint. The album showed Iyanya’s versatility as an R&B artist, particularly on the self-titled track “Iyanya” and “Love Truly”. Iyanya’s first debut studio album was a commercial failure due to problems with distribution and promotion.
After visiting his hometown of Calabar and seeing people’s affection for the Etighi dance, Iyanya decided to do a song that would popularize the dance that originated in Calabar. That idea gave birth to his hit single “Kukere” which made him a global figure and brought him to limelight.
He teamed up with producer DTunes and recorded “Kukere” a single that achieved global success, particularly in Nigeria, Ghana and the United Kingdom. The song was succeeded by the album’s second single entitled “Ur waist” which features additional vocals from Emma Nyra.
Iyanya have being linked in controversial relationship with Ghanaian famous actress Yvonne Nelson. On 16th October 2013, Iyanya became an ambassador for Solo Phones Nigeria, a mobile phone company situated at Computer Village, Ikeja, Lagos State, Nigeria. The one-year deal was reportedly worth $220,000 (35 million naira). In addition to that, Iyanya got a 2014 Toyota Prado from the deal.
In 2013, the Daily Independent newspaper reported that Iyanya also signed a one-year deal with Zinox Computers (Nigeria’s first certified branded computers) worth $300,000. The deal featured Iyanya on Zinox billboards and in TV commcercials.
In an interview with Toolz on Ndani TV, Iyanya said he wants to be a versatile artist and wants to be known for his R&B and Afrobeat abilities. In the same interview, he also said he switched from R&B to Afrobeat because he wanted to make money and wanted fans to see his versatility.
On 25th November 2012, Iyanya performed at AY comedy show held at the INDIGO2 Arena in London, United Kingdom. To promote his second album in the United Kingdom, Iyanya headlined the Iyanya vs. Desire concert, which started in London and ended in Manchester, both in the United Kingdom.
The London concert was held at the INDIGO2 Arena on 9th June 2013. It featured performances from Tonto Dikeh and Emma Nyra. On 14th June 2013, the Manchester concert commenced and featured performances from Emma Nyra and DRB Lasgidi.
In early 2013, Iyanya and his label mate Emma Nyra went on a mini tour across the United States of America and Canada. Iyanya performed at the Shrine in Chicago on 11th April 2013. He also performed at the African Muzik Magazine launch on 12th April 2013, which was held in Dalla, Texas in the United States of America.
In 2013, Iyanya made a cameo appearance in the popular television series Shuga season 3 which was sponsored by MTV base. In 2014, Iyanya was nominated for Musician of the Year (Male) at the City People Entertainment Awards.
In 2014, he won the award for Best Male Vocal and Best Dance in a Video at the African Muzik Magazine Awards. In 2014, he was also nominated for World’s Best Song, World’s Best Video, World’s Best Male Artist, World’s Best Live Act and World’s Best Entertainer of The Year at the World Music Awards.
In 2013, Iyanya was nominated for Best R&B/Pop Album, Album of the Year, Best Pop Single, Song of the Year and Best High Life Video at the Nigeria Music Video Awards (NMVA).
In 2012, he won the Best Contemporary Afro (Live Beats choice) at the Nigeria Music Video Awards (NMVA), Musician of the Year (Male) and Most Popular Song of the Year at the City People Entertainment Awards.
In 2013, he also won the Best High Life Video and Best Use of Choreography at the Nigeria Music Video Awards (NMVA). The discography of Iyanya consists of two studio albums, fourteen music videos, twenty-two singles (including ten as featured artist) and five promotional singles.
Iyanya is currently one of the richest and most influential artiste in Nigeria with an estimated net worth of $4.5 million.
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