Iyanya Onoyom Mbuk, popularly known as Iyanya, is a renowned Nigerian singer and songwriter. Born on October 31, 1986, in Calabar, Nigeria, Iyanya’s musical journey began at a young age. From winning the first MTN Project Fame West Africa competition in 2008 to his viral hit single “Kukere,” Iyanya has captivated audiences with his talent and infectious music. In this blog post, we will explore Iyanya’s early life, education, career milestones, and notable endorsements.
Early Life and Education:
Iyanya was born and raised in Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria. Growing up on Palm Street, he was influenced by his parents, who instilled discipline and love in his upbringing. Tragically, Iyanya lost both of his parents and his older brother in 2008.
However, his passion for music remained unwavering. At the tender age of five, he began singing in the church choir, where his grandfather served as the clergyman. Iyanya completed his primary, secondary, and university education in Calabar, obtaining a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Calabar.
Career Beginnings and Breakthrough:
After completing his undergraduate degree, Iyanya worked as a hotel employee while simultaneously performing at popular venues like Fiesta Fries Bar, Mirage Nite Club, and West-Life Night Club in Calabar. Influenced by artists such as Craig David, Bob Marley, Westlife, Backstreet Boys, and R. Kelly, Iyanya aspired to pursue a career in music. His determination was solidified after watching a television show featuring the luxurious lifestyles of 2Face Idibia and Olu Maintain, prompting him to follow his musical dreams.
In 2008, Iyanya’s career took off when he emerged as the winner of the inaugural MTN Project Fame Reality TV show. This victory earned him ₦2.5 million in cash and provided a platform for his musical journey. Although his debut album, “My Story,” released in 2009, faced distribution and promotion challenges, it was his 2011 release of the single “Kukere” that catapulted Iyanya to nationwide fame. The song, accompanied by the popular Etighi dance step, became a global hit, garnering widespread acclaim in Nigeria, Ghana, and the United Kingdom.
Career Milestones and Awards:
Iyanya’s success continued to soar as he embarked on various musical endeavors. He performed at notable events, including comedian AY Makun’s show at the INDIGO2 arena and his own headlining concert, “Iyanya vs. Desire,” in the United Kingdom.
He embarked on tours in the United States and Canada and graced prestigious platforms like the New York Fashion Week. Along his journey, Iyanya received several accolades, including Nigerian Music Awards, Headies Awards, Ghana Music Awards, World Music Awards, City People Entertainment Awards, Soul Train Music Awards, Nigerian Entertainment Awards, African Music Magazine Awards, and Channel O Music Video Awards.
Iyanya’s talent and popularity led to lucrative endorsement deals. He became an ambassador for Solo Phones Nigeria, a mobile phone company based in Ikeja’s Computer Village. The one-year contract, worth $220,000 (35 million naira), included a 2014 Toyota Prado. Additionally, he signed a one-year endorsement deal with Zinox Computers, Nigeria’s first certified brand computers, earning him further recognition and exposure.
Iyanya’s journey from singing in church choirs to winning competitions and capturing the hearts of millions is a testament to his unwavering passion and talent. Despite facing early setbacks, he emerged as one of Nigeria’s most celebrated singers and songwriters. Through his infectious music and energetic performances, Iyanya has solidified his place in the Nigerian music industry. With numerous awards and notable endorsements, his star continues to shine brightly, captivating audiences both at home and abroad.