Tosin Jegede, Chichi of Africa and Yvonne Maha. Remember these familiar names?
It seems like just yesterday when these child stars were the toast of the Nigerian music industry. They were young, ambitious, and super talented. If you were born in the 80s or 90s, you would agree that some of these kids were our idols growing up.
While some left the spotlight to pursue careers outside of the entertainment industry, others never left.
Here, PREMIUM TIMES takes a look at where your favourite child music stars are now.
Tosin Jegede, 40, was a child singing sensation in the 1980s. She released her first album ‘Children Arise’ in 1985 at age five and two more albums, ‘Leaders of Africa’ and ‘Children of Africa’ in 1989 and 1992 respectively.
She left the country to further her education and earned a degree in Business Decision and Analysis from the University of Bristol, London.
She also worked briefly in the UK as a Pension Adviser. Jegede briefly returned to Nigeria in 2012 to launch her foundation.
She currently lives in the United Kingdom.
Chichi of Africa
In her heyday, Chibuzo Onwuegbu-Idowu, popularly known as Chichi of Africa, was the toast of many Nigerian parents many of who wished their kids were so talented. She performed at major shows within and outside the country. Unlike Tosin Jegede, she left the music scene rather early.
Over the years, she worked with an events company, Tequila events and Lamppost, a subsidiary of Prima Garnet, an advertising agency. Today, Chichi, who studied History at the University of Lagos, is a UK-trained make-up artist and a notable fashion entrepreneur. She is married to a pilot and they are blessed with three daughters.
Not many know that top gospel musician, Ada Ehi, is still active in the industry.
She got her first shot at stardom at the age of 10 when she was selected to be a member of Tosin Jegede’s Girls Band.
Together, they graced many stages along with a host of legendary Nigerian musicians of the time. Her romance with music continued while she was studying Chemical and Polymer Engineering at Lagos State University.
Her gospel-singing career continued in the Christ Embassy Presidential Choir. It was a great platform to hone her music skills. She is currently an internationally known gospel singer whose contemporaries include Sinach, Joe Praize, and Frank Edwards.
Yvonne Belinda Maha
Yvonne Maha was a Nigerian teen pop star who ruled the music scene in the 1980s. Her beauty and angelic voice ensured that she had loyal fans back then. Her music career picked up while she was a student at Federal Government Girls College, Akure, Ondo. Her Sonny Okosuns-produced debut ‘Child For Sale’, released in 1983, made her one of the breakout stars of the year. It spawned hits like ‘Dont Treat Me Like a Child,’ ‘Wings of a Dove’ and ‘Diocha’.
Maha, who currently lives in Brazil, recently co-authored a thesis, ‘Analysis of the Participative Process of the Public Hearing of the Federal District Granting Plan’. She lectures at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Brasília.
Fans can relive fond memories of Maha by watching her 1983 interview and performance on The Bala Miller Show below.
A Nigerian child prodigy, Ofonime Felix Okon became a superstar overnight in 1992 at age 4 after late First Lady, Maryam Babangida, was thrilled by his skills on the xylophone.
It was at the Conference of Nigerian First Ladies held in Lagos.
So impressed by his performance, Mrs Babangida immediately drafted him to tour the nation under the aegis of her pet project, Better Life for Rural Women programme.
He was immediately christened ‘Udo Mariam,’ meaning the second son of Maryam in his native dialect, Ibibio. He bagged a Higher National Diploma in Business Management from the Akwa Ibom State Polytechnic.
He currently manages Udo Mariam cultural troupe which was founded by his late dad. The troupe has been together for 21 years.
Amarachi Uyanne, popularly known by her stage name Amarachi, is a Nigerian teenage singer, dancer, and violinist who became famous after she won the maiden edition of Nigeria’s Got Talent in 2012.
The then 8-year-old won the N10 million cash prize and was subsequently dubbed the ‘Nigeria’s Youngest Millionaire.’
She proceeded to feature Phyno in a song titled “Ova Sabi”; and it was an instant hit.
Uyanne, 20, currently runs the Amarachi Talent Academy.
Destined Kids is a family band of six who took the Nigerian gospel music scene by storm in 2005. The band is composed of siblings, Favour, Rejoice (the lead vocalist), Joshua, Best, Caleb and Wonderful. Their father, Stephen Iwueze, a deacon, composed their songs and managed the band. They were all below eight years when they were thrust into the limelight.
They dominated their industry for almost a decade and dropped hit after hits like ‘Joy Joy Joy’, ‘Short the Door’ and ‘Edge of the Ocean’. They were a delight to listen to every single time.
Now adults, they occasionally still perform and record songs together as a band but are no longer very active. The lead vocalist, Rejoice, who went solo a few years ago, tied the knot in 2018.
Fuji wonder kids
Over two decades, a crop of talented young singers, Shanko Rasheed, Wasiu Ayiki Container, Rasheedat Omo-Ilu, Konkolo, Eva Water, Global T. took the Fuji music scene by storm.
However, the most popular of the kid stars, arguably, was Shanko Rasheed, who debuted on Alphabet Records owned by Dammy Damola Kolawole.
He would later dump the label for DAAM Music and later Olasco Films and Records. He promptly released an album titled ‘Agreement’, marketed by Olasco, prompting Alphabet Records to obtain a court injunction to stop the release of his subsequent albums.
The young lad would later accuse Alphabet Music of manipulative tendencies, arguing that the controversial 10-year contract he signed was due to the record company’s deceptive proposals. By the time the dust would settle, fans and foes have moved their gazes away from the promising singer. Since the COVID-19 lockdown began, Rasheed performs live on his Instagram page. He also puts up his account number and encourages his fans to contribute funds to his account.
Benita Okojie became a household name in Nigeria after the release of her breakout hit “Osemudiamen” in 2006.
Her late dad discovered and nurtured her talent. Having worked with great musicians like Onyeka Onwenu, Felix Liberty, Chris Okotie, and Sunny Okosuns, he single-handedly managed his daughter’s career.
He co-produced, marketed, and distributed her albums.
Okojie,31, had a rewarding music career which saw her perform at high-profile events like the FIFA Under-21 World Cup (Nigeria 99).
She was also invited to perform at Nigeria’s 40th independence anniversary at Aso Rock in Abuja in 2000. These days, the mother of two works with her technology entrepreneur husband, Olawale Adeyina. Occasionally, she drops gospel music singles.