Tonye Garrick: the singer getting Nigeria dancing

The TRUE AFRICA 100 is our list of innovators, opinion-formers, game-changers, pioneers, dreamers and mavericks who we feel are shaping the Africa of today.

Tonye Garrick is a Nigerian singer who has lived and worked across Europe, America and Nigeria. After obtaining a bachelor degree in international business and fashion merchandising from Marymount University, Virginia, Tonye worked for UBS Financial and Deloitte. She then decided to dedicate fully her career to singing and now lives in Nigeria. She explains the exciting developments in the country’s music scene and what it took for her to finally follow her dreams. Tonye released her latest single Ari Belema in August.

You took a big leap from a career in the corporate world into singing. Where did you find the courage to pursue your passion?

I worked as a consultant at Deloitte and Touche for five years. It was a great job but I wasn’t very happy doing it. I had always had this big dream of becoming a singer but the truth is I was terrified of what everyone would think of me.

After five years of treating music as a hobby, I decided it was time to make my dream a reality.

I also knew becoming an artist would mean losing the comfort of having a steady paycheck, especially at the beginning. After five years of treating music as a hobby, I decided it was time to make my dream a reality.

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Since the Nigerian music industry is still a fairly new market for female artists, I thought where better to begin than at home. I quit my job in 2013 and the rest is history.


What African music scenes are you most excited about?

I’m passionate about a lot of African music scenes and I find it is constantly evolving. Growing up in Washington DC, I listened to a lot of R’n’B from singers like Brandy, Lauryn Hill and Aaliyah. In West Africa, the Afrobeats scene is growing. If you are familiar with Afrobeats, then you know it is a fusion of traditional and contemporary African sounds. The main goal of this style of music is to make you dance and forget all your issues.

2015 has been a really big year for female musicians.

As much as I love Afrobeats, my sound does not fall under this category. Since moving back to Nigeria, it felt easier to play around with different sounds and styles of music. I decided to name my sound R’n’B Fusion which is a nice blend of what I grew up listening to and traditional African sounds like Afrobeats, highlife and even dancehall. I’m just excited that there are so many new trends in African music. We now have so much to experiment with.

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Who’s your African of the year?

I would have to say my African of the year is musician Yemi Alade. 2015 has been a really big year for female musicians. The Nigerian music scene has been dominated by male artists but now ladies likes Yemi Alade are showing us that hard work and dedication is all you need to succeed. Her story is incredible.

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I met Yemi at a producer’s studio when I moved back to Nigeria and since then I have seen her grow so much. I admire her selflessness and her work ethic. She is the real definition of ‘hard work pays off’. She is one of the artists who has really made me believe in what I am doing.

Follow Tonye on Instagram @whoistonye



Come back tomorrow for the next TRUE Africa 100 and keep up to date using the hashtag #TRUEAfrica

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