2011: 100 Most Influential Africans – Music

2011: 100 Most Influential Africans – Music

Aliaune Thiam aka Akon, Senegal. He is the one African export who has cracked the coveted American music market with a bang!

He is the first solo artist from Africa to have held both the number one and two spots simultaneously on the US Billboard Hot 100 charts twice, and is also the only African global superstar who every big name in his genre of music want to collaborate with. Although his rise to fame and fortune has been peppered with bad press, back home in Senegal, Akon is a source of pride and inspiration and a symbol of achievement.


Hamada Ben Amor aka “El General”, Tunisia

On 24 December 2010, two days after his second famous protest song, “Tunisia Our Country” was released on Youtube and one week after the protests in Tunisia began, he was arrested by Tunisian police. He was released three days later on condition he would not sing political songs again. This 22-year old rapper is the voice of Tunisian youth. After the overthrow of Ben Ali, his song “Rais Lebled” (State of State) became the anthem of the revolution. This gave him international recognition.


Nneka Egbuna, Nigeria

She is described as a must-watch new kid on the block. Nneka is mesmerising global audiences with her powerful lyrics, which some have argued reveal a wisdom beyond her years (she us 30), driving home her message and addressing the plight of the new world order and Africa’s political and social quagmire. Her songs tackle issues of capitalism, poverty and war and are often loaded with moral and biblical messages. She cites Fela Kuti and the executed Nigerian human rights activist Ken Saro Wiwa as two of her inspirations.


Youssou N’Dour, Senegal

One of Africa’s best-known ambassadors, Youssou N’Dour has pioneered the traditional Seneralese Mbalax to become a highly acclaimed music genre, loved by people of all races globally. But N’Dour also has a big heart, as his humanitarian work testifies. A multi-award winner – which includes a converted Grammy – N’Dour is an ardent social and human rights advocate who has set up his Youth Network for Development to help improve the lives of children in his country and Africa at large. He has also been the UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador since 1991.


Angelique Kidjo, Benin

One of Africa’s most prolific and world-famous singers and performers, Kidjo has created music that is enjoyed worldwide. Close to her heart are issues that promote girls’ and women’s rights. Her music is not just dynamic and uplifting. “She has translated her distinctive work in the arts to that of philanthropy, by promoting education for girls in Africa through her foundation, Batonga.” She is also a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and has recently become one of the famous faces in the Rotary International campaign against polio.

At the moment there is simply no African female musician quite like Angelique Kidjo. A true star of world music, she crosses musical boundaries and, in doing so, seeks to unite different world cultures through her music.


Rate this article

Author Thumbnail
Written by Baffour Ankomah

Baffour Ankomah, born in Ghana, has been editor of New African since July 1999. His passion is Africa and its Diaspora. A journalist since 1980, Baffour started his career at The Pioneer, the oldest existing newspaper in Ghana, where he became editor 1983-86. He joined New African in mid-1988 as assistant editor, then rose to deputy editor in 1994, and editor in 1999. His column, Baffour's Beefs, a big hit for New African readers, has been running since 1988.

Join our mailing list to receive a sharp, curated weekly round-up of African business news.

Help us deliver better content

Related Posts

Join our 70,000+ subscribers by signing up to our mailing list

Help us deliver better content