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Behold, The Top 12 Most Powerful African Musicians Ever In History – (Dead or Alive)

Africa has produced many immensely talented musicians. Some African musicians have made wise use of their talent and have become wealthy. They are also very popular in Africa and other parts of the world. These are the richest, most successful, and internationally well-known African musicians.

1. Youssou N’dour, Age: 55, Senegalese

Rolling Stone Magazine in 2004 referred to the desirable musician as maybe the most famous singer alive. It may seem unlikely especially in a contemporary music world with the likes of Beyonce, Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber. However, N’dour 55 is argued to be the most thrilling and fascinating African musician. His contribution in making the Mbalax popular cannot be undermined. N’dour, the UNICEF ambassador has been outspoken in his campaign to put an end in the humanitarian crisis in the horn of Africa. The Grammy-Award winner is also an intelligent businessman, owner of a nightclub, a television station as well as a record label.

Youssou Ndour

2. Manu Dibango, Age: 80, Cameroon

An excellent saxophonist, the Cameroonian-born Manu Dibango is one of Africa’s multi-talented artists. Because of his tremendous contribution in the African music industry, it is difficult to find the words with which to describe such a musician as Manu Dibango. Popularly known for his 1972 single “Soul Makossa”, he has played music ranging from reggae, soul, blues, spirituals, electro to soul.

Manu Dibango

3. Salif Keita, Age: 65, Malian

An offspring of Sundiata Keita, founding father of the Mali Empire, Salif Keita is one of the founders of Afro-pop. Keita was widely criticized when he decided to become a musician as it was regarded an occupation not befitting for someone from a kingly Malian family. Exiled from his village at the age of 18, due to the superstitious belief that albinos was symbolic of misfortune, this talented artist went on to play for a Malian Musical group known as ‘Les Ambassadeurs’ prior to going solo. Since then his career has witnessed a mind blowing success.

Salif Keita

4. Angélique Kidjo, Age: 54, Beninoise

Born in Ouidah, Benin, the 54 years old Grammy Award winning Beninoise musician remain one of Africa’s most influential singer till date. This UNICEF Goodwill ambassador is also the pioneer of a Washington-based charity known as Batonga Foundation which fosters and funds the education of African girls. She is a zealous advocate for the rights of African women.

Angélique Kidjo

5. Khaled, Age: 54, Algerian

Khaled Hadj Ibrahim famously known as ‘Khaled’, this Algerian songwriter and singer is the most popular ‘rai’ singer worldwide. Rai which is a type of folk which merges French, Arabic, Spanish and African musical influences is his style of music. His major success is in France with his singles ‘Didi’ and ‘Aicha’ topping the charts. Reported to have sold over 20 million albums, he remains one of Africa’s bestselling artist of all times.


6. Femi Kuti, Age: 52, Nigerian

The firstborn child of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, Just like his father, Fela tries to use his music to fight against vices such as poverty, corruption and other socio-economic matters that are prevailing in Nigeria in particular and Africa as a whole. His album ‘Fight to Win’ in which he collaborated with American artists in the likes of Mos Def, Common and Jaguar Fight is largely viewed as the most prominent Neo-Afro beat of the 21st century.

Femi Kuti

7. Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Age: 49, South African

She is one of Africa’s most acclaimed musicians who made her appearance on the stage at the age of 18 and was catapulted to fame at the height of Apartheid in South Africa. Her contagious pop melodies, girlish attractions and angelic voice could not go unnoticed. Popularly known for her songs such as ‘I cry for freedom’ and ‘I’m in love with a DJ’ this prominent musician and United Nations Goodwill ambassador and UN envoy to Africa now dedicates her time to philanthropy.


Yvonne Chaka Chaka

8. Koffi Olomidé, Age: 58, Congolese

He is a holder of a first degree in Business Economics and is said to have a Masters degree in mathematics from the University of Paris, but his major success and mainstream fortune has stemmed from singing. He is famously recognized as a performer of a very famous and specific type of African music known as soukous. During the course of his career Koffi as fondly called by his fans, has released over 30 albums which have sold millions worldwide.

Koffi Olomidé

9. Hugh Masekela, Age:75, South African

The Jazz maestro and internationally renowned trumpeter have made consistent progress in his career. He started playing the trumpet at the age of 14 and has used his music to combat slavery, apartheid, as well as socio-economic exploitation. This famous musician published his autobiography in 2004; Still Grazing the Musical Journey of Hugh Masekela.

Hugh Masekela

10. Oumou Sangare, Age: 46, Malian

He is one of Mali’s most adored musical stars. This Award-winning Malian made the Wassoulou; a prominent traditional music specific to Mali, famous. The lyrics centre on feminism and the right of women. As a United Nations Goodwill ambassador, Sangare has been outspoken in advocating against polygamy. She is a successful entrepreneur who in 2006 partnered with a Chinese automobile firm to make a car that has been named after her; Oum Sang.

Oumou Sangare

11. Fela Anikulapo Kuti, Age: 59, Nigerian

When Fela Anikulapo-Kuti died in August 1997, Nigeria lost one of its most controversial and inspirational cultural figures. No one who knew him well was surprised when Nigeria’s greatest musician Fela Ransome-Kuti changed the first part of his double-barrelled surname to Anikulapo in the mid-1970s.
It’s almost impossible to overstate the impact and importance of Fela to the global musical village: producer, arranger, musician, political radical, outlaw. He is the inventor of Afro-beat, an unredeemable sexist, and a moody megalomaniac. In 2008, an off-Broadway production of Fela Kuti’s life entitled Fela!, inspired by Carlos Moore’s 1982 book Fela, Fela! This Bitch of a Life, began with a collaborative workshop between the Afrobeat band Antibalas and Tony award-winner Bill T. Jones. The show was a massive success, selling out shows during its run, and garnering much critical acclaim.

12. Miriam Makeba, Age: 76, South African

Zenzile Miriam Makeba was a South African singer and civil rights activist. She was dubbed Mama Africa. She devoted her life to promoting peace and justice and fighting racism around the planet. A figurehead of the Black African movement in exile, her music and daily practice incarnated the hopes and fears of Africa through the convulsive 20th century, so that she has come to be considered the voice and mother of the Continent. In the 1960s, she was the first artist from Africa to popularize African music around the world. Her professional career began in the 1950s when she was featured in the South African jazz group the Manhattan Brothers, and appeared for the first time on a poster. She is best known for the song “Pata Pata”, first recorded in 1957 and released in the U.S. in 1967. Makeba died of a heart attack on 9 November 2008 after performing in a concert in Italy organised to support writer Roberto Saviano in his stand against the Camorra, a mafia-like organisation local to the region of Campania.



Written by How Africa


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  1. The Top 10 Most Powerful African Musicians Ever In History – (Dead or Alive) without FELA ANIKULAPO-KUTI & MARIAM MAKEBA? Kindly rewrite the list. Thanks.

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