Ayra Starr, born and raised in Edo State, Nigeria, represents a new chapter in African music where women are making their mark in an industry once dominated by men. With the rise of African pop music on a global scale, Starr’s success is evident as her single Rush spent 13 weeks on the UK Top 40 earlier this year. Her first performance since receiving a Grammy nomination for best African music performance takes place at the age of 21. Wearing a stylish light-pink two-piece outfit with a flowing asymmetrical tulle skirt, Starr begins her show with the opening track Cast from her debut album.
Starr’s five-member group begins a strong performance of Fashion Killa, and her lively vibrato, similar to her recorded tracks, stands out. While many Nigerian artists have been criticized for lackluster live shows, Starr’s seamless collaboration with her band and dancers highlights her dedication to perfecting her art.
Although she is not young, she has a large and diverse portfolio, creating a space where different energies and vibes can coexist harmoniously. After singing a soulful version of her first song Away, Starr returns on a high balcony and addresses the audience: “I know this is an Afrobeats concert, but we can also take some time to meditate and relax.” With only a piano accompanying her on Crazy, the crowd holds their breath, waiting for each verse before cheering.
Some of the performers on stage include rapper Darkoo and former Little Mix member Leigh-Anne Pinnock. Starr sings the lively song Overloading with fellow Nigerian singers Magixx and Crayon as the audience fills the concert hall with the lights from their phones. However, the duration of the show, which is an hour and 20 minutes for her debut tour, tests the patience of some, and some audience members start to become restless towards the end. This takes away from the impact of her popular songs: Bloody Samaritan, Rush, and Sabi. The finale, a karaoke-style rendition of Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You sung over the track, may come across as cheesy. But overall, this concert is a mesmerizing experience as Starr’s talent and vocal range shine brightly.
Ayra Starr will be touring Europe until November 30th.