Born on 5th February 1980 in Ikeja, Tiwatope Savage-Balogun is a Nigerian singer, songwriter, performer and actress. Her family relocated to London when she was only 11 years old. While attending high school, she was a trombone player for her school’s orchestra band. Savage had a healthy upbringing; she grew up in a multicultural setting due to her migration from Nigeria to the United Kingdom, and from the United Kingdom to the United States.
After graduating with a degree in Business administration from the University of Kent, Savage started working at The Royal Bank of Scotland. She did backup vocals for George Michael at the age of 16 and lent vocals to other musicians such as Mary J. Blige, Chaka Khan, Blu Cantrell, Emma Bunton, Kelly Clarkson, Andrea Bocelli, and Ms Dynamite, amongst others. Furthermore, she has performed on stage with Sting, 50 Cent, The Black Eyed Peas, Eminem, Robbie Williams and Destiny’s Child, to name a few.
In 2006, Savage participated in the UK edition of The X Factor and advanced to the final 24. While participating in the popular music competition franchise, she had difficulty dealing with the limelight. Savage was quoted as saying, “You have to always realize that people are watching. When I got the bad news that I wasn’t getting through to the final 12 it was a really painful time. But you still have to learn how to hold that until you get home. Because you don’t want to just let everything out. People admire you and want to see that you’re strong; they don’t want to see you breaking down.”
In 2009, Sony/ATV Music Publishing signed Savage to a music deal. The deal solidified her to write for Babyface, Kat Deluna, Fantasia Barrino, Monica and Mýa. She has received songwriting credits for her contribution to Monica’s soul-tinged ballad “Catch Me”. Moreover, her collaboration with Fantasia on the song “Collard Greens & Cornbread” earned the American recording artist a Grammy nomination in 2010. Savage wrote Jaicko’s “Oh Yeah”, featuring Snoop Dogg, and Kat Deluna’s “Push Push”, featuring Akon and David Guetta. In as much as she likes writing for other artists, she finds writing for herself more rewarding. Savage performed background vocals on Whitney Houston’s album I Look to You (2009).
When Savage stepped onto Nigeria’s musical landscape, she didn’t know what to expect. According to her, she received a lot of ridicule and hostility from people who believed she wouldn’t make it. She said that numerous people tried to discourage her from settling in Nigeria. She released her debut single “Kele Kele Love”. The song made its way to the top of several Nigerian music charts.
Savage has however defied all the odds, gaining international recognition for her works. In June 2014, Savage collaborated with Mi Casa, Lola Rae, Sarkodie, Diamond Platnumz, and Davido on a song for DSTV’s Africa Rising campaign, which was designed to inspire Africans to partake in community-based social investment projects. In June 2016, there were reports in the media that Savage had signed a management and distribution deal with Roc Nation. On 29 July 2016, she made it official by announcing the deal through her Instagram account, thereby making her the first Nigerian artist to be signed to the label.
Tiwa Savage is married to Tunji “Tee Billz” Balogun. On 23 November 2013, the couple held their traditional marriage at the Ark in Lekki. The couple’s white wedding was held on 26 April 2014, at the Armani Hotel in Dubai. On 22 July 2015, Tiwa Savage gave birth to her son Jamil Balogun. On 28 April 2016, Tunji “Tee Billz” Balogun, in a series of social media posts, accused his wife of infidelity as well as her mother of witchcraft. In a 45-minute interview conducted by Thisday newspaper and Pulse Nigeria, Tiwa Savage extensively addressed her husband’s lengthy social media posts regarding their marriage. She debunked her husband’s infidelity claims and accused him of financial recklessness, drug addiction, and abandonment. Moreover, she said that her marriage to him is over.
Savage has won several awards and has also been nominated for many others. She is considered to be one of the most prolific musicians on the continent.