Written by mikeonas on May 17, 2018
Iyanya Onoyom Mbuk (born 31 October 1986), known by his mononym Iyanya, is a Nigerian recording artist, singer, songwriter, and performer.
He is best known for winning the 2008 MTN Project Fame West Africa as well as for his song “Kukere”. He is the co-owner of Made Men Music Group, a record label home to artists such as Emma Nyra, Tekno, Selebobo, and Baci. Iyanya sings in English and Efik. He released his debut studio album, My Story, in 2011. It was supported by the singles “No Time” and “Love Truly”. Desire, his second studio album, contained the singles “Kukere”, “Ur Waist”, “Flavour”, “Sexy Mama”, and “Jombolo”. He won the Artist of the Year award at The Headies 2013.
Iyanya was born on Palm Street in Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria. His mother was a headmistress and his father was a forester. Iyanya has described his mother as the household disciplinarian, while his father was the gentler of the two. His parents died in 2008, his mother, 42 years-old, and his father, 50 years-old. Iyanya’s elder brother died around the same time of his parents’ death Iyanya’s grandfather was a clergyman. Iyanya used to sing in his church’s choir and was the choirmaster for the children’s choir at age 5. Iyanya completed his primary, secondary, and university education in Calabar. He is a Business Management graduate from the University of Calabar.
After graduating from the University of Calabar, he worked in a hotel and sang karaoke at a local bar he managed. Iyanya began developing his vocal abilities at local bars which include: Fiesta Fries Bar, Mirage Nite Club, and West-Life. Iyanya cited British singer Craig David and American hip-hop artist R Kelly as his key musical influences. Iyanya was motivated to pursue music professionally after watching the celebrity lifestyle of 2 Face Idibia and Olu Maintain. Iyanya started as a rapper, going by the name “Lofty”.
MTN Project Fame
In 2008, KCee from KCee Presh group convinced Iyanya to partake in MTN’s first-ever Project Fame singing competition. Iyanya emerged the winner of the competition after battling numerous people who had the same aspirations as him. The 2008 MTN Project Fame Competition was the beginning of Iyanya’s musical career. Unlike many people who dwindle after a major competition, Iyanya’s success had just begun.
2009: My Story
After winning MTN’s Project Fame, Iyanya began recording his debut album My Story released under CN Media Imprint. The album showed Iyanya’s versatility as an R&B artist, particularly on the self-titled track “Iyanya” and “Love Truly”. Iyanya’s debut album was a commercial failure due to problems with distribution and promotion.