Nigerian Afrobeat star Tiwa Savage is the first African artist to sign a global deal with Universal Music Group. This comes months after she was the first woman to win the MTV Europe Music Award for Best African Act.
Tiwa Savage has signed an exclusive recording deal with the leading American music company, Universal Music Group (UMG). As part of the deal, the Afrobeat artist will make music with UMG and have access to their infrastructure and distribution tools. Additionally, her future music will be released to a wider international audience through UMG's operations in 60 countries across the globe.
Announcing the landmark deal, the Nigerian recording artist told news agency AFP, "It's very exciting. The support and the love is overwhelming. It's an exciting time and I'm very humbled and very excited that they are backing my brand."
Adam Granite, executive vice president of market development at Universal Music Group, said in a statement, "We are looking forward to partnering with Tiwa and her team to help her music reach new audiences around the world. As one of Africa's most successful, influential and dynamic singer-songwriters, Tiwa has truly global ambitions and UMG is committed to helping her achieve them."
According to CNN, the Los Angeles-based music group currently operates in West and East Africa and has signed some of the continent's top artists such as Ivorian DJ and singer DJ Arafat and Nigerian popstar Tekno. It even acquired the Kenyan music company AI Records, one of East Africa's largest labels, and opened offices in Ivory Coast and Nigeria last year.
Savage went on to say in the media release that her "biggest goal is to make Africa proud. I'm so excited for this moment, and I'm thankful to [UMG CEO] Sir Lucian Grainge and my new UMG family for their belief in my dreams. I'm looking forward to this next chapter in my career, and I'm more ready than I have ever been."
She added that even though international audiences may not understand some of the language, "they can feel the soul in the music" and the themes of her songs are universal.
"When I was performing [in other countries], to see tears in [the audience's] eyes and have them singing all my songs word for word was, I mean, I said it on stage, 'This is really emotional. This is crazy.' It was so beautiful and I felt connected to every single person. The love was amazing, you know, they showed me so much love and I just want to do more of it."
Savage acknowledged that it has not been easy working in a male-dominated industry, "especially as a mom", but that has also made her work harder.
"I do believe as women we are a lot stronger than what we give ourselves credit for," she said. "There's nothing I can't handle."