Teen stars in Africa are hard to come by these days, teen stars with potential even harder but female teen stars, are unicorns. In recent years, Mavin Records has adopted the habit of announcing underwhelming new acts to fanfare but this time, however, they seem to be well on their way to killing two birds with a stone, eradicating the notion teen girls in Africa cannot make it big as musicians and also, delivering to us, well-equipped industry neophytes. The Benin Republic born Ayra Starr, with her sultry vocals and goth queen bubble gum hybrid personality is one of such unicorns and the label’s latest experiment with the potential to take over much like the last act from the label to do it big, Rema, did.
Ayra Starr is impossible to ignore. Born in the Benin Republic, the nineteen-year-old was raised between the beach city of Cotonou and the cultural hub of Lagos. This mix of cultures inspires her global approach to music, art, and life. She’s inspired by the regal earthiness of Angelique Kidjo, Rihanna’s free spirit and feisty confidence, 90’s fashion music icons such as Aaliyah, and the edgy aesthetic of emo-pop.
Ayra’s sound is truly unique and versatile, drawing from influences like classic Yoruba and Beninois music, and artists such as 2Baba and Wande Coal. Her music speaks for a generation of young people around the world, especially girls who are finding themselves, united by angst and emojis.
Her strength comes from a close-knit family of music lovers, including her brother with whom she often writes songs. This ingrained love of art also manifests in her interests; she enjoys risqué television shows and has experience as a model.
With this long line of interests, hobbies, and influences, Starr’s diversity, which today is the key to mainstream dominance, is undoubtable. Her music speaks for itself and today, with her self-titled debut EP, Ayra Starr, hitting the airwaves, she proves her worth as a neophyte with strong potential.
Featured image credit: @ngozieme