Top 10 Most Successful African Musicians

Angélique Kidjo singing


Africa is blessed with many things and quality music is obviously one of them. Several African musicians are well known internationally because of their huge talents.

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No matter what success means to you, one thing is certain, these listed African legends are really successful.

Here is a list of the most successful African musicians

1. 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.


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.

4. Angélique Kidjo, Age: 54, Beninoise


Angélique Kidjo

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.

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. 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 N’dour

7. Fally Ipupa, Age 36: Congolese


Fally Ipupa

The superstar Fally as popularly called by his fans, was part of the band of Koffi Olomidé known as Quartier Latin International from 1999 to 2006 before moving on to begin a solo career.

This Congolese singer and song writer released his first album ‘Droit Chemin’ in 2006 which made huge sales of over 100,000units.

He has modernized the Lingala music and has received so many awards for his achievements.Fally makes money by endorsing brands and performing at shows.

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

Oumou Sangare
She 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.


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