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
Iyanya was born on Palm Street in Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria.
His mother was a head mistress 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 choir master 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
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.
After visiting his hometown of Calabar and seeing people’s affection for
the Etighi dance, Iyanya decided to do a song that would popularise the
dance that originated in Calabar. He teamed up with producer DTunes and
recorded “Kukere”, a single that achieved global success, particularly
in Nigeria, Ghana and the United Kingdom. The song was succeeded by his
second single entitled “Ur Waist”.
On 16 October 2013, 360nobs reported that Iyanya became the new
ambassador for Solo Phones Nigeria, a mobile phone company situated at
Computer Village, Ikeja. The one-year deal is allegedly worth $220,000
(35 million niara). In addition, Iyanya got a 2014 Toyota Prado from the
In 2013, Daily Independent reported that Iyanya also signed a
one-year deal with Zinox Computers (Nigeria’s first certified branded
computers) worth $300,000. The deal will feature Iyanya on Zinox
billboards and in TV commcercials.
Iyanya started performing ballads, particularly on his debut album My
Story. In an interview with Toolz on Ndani TV, he said he wants to be a
versatile artist and wants to be known for his R&B and Afrobeat
abilities. In the same interview, he also said he switched from R&B
to Afrobeat because he wanted to make money and wanted fans to see his
On 25 November 2012, Iyanya performed at comedian AY Makun show held at
the INDIGO2 arena. To promote his second album in the UK, Iyanya
headlined the Iyanya vs. Desire concert. The concert started in London
and ended in Manchester.
The London concert was held at the INDIGO2 arena on 9 June 2013. The
concert featured performances by Tonto Dikeh and Iyanya’s label mate
Emma Nyra. On 14 June 2013, the Manchester concert commenced and
featured performances by Emma Nyra and DRB Lasgidi. Iyanya and his label
mate Emma Nyra went on a mini tour across the U.S and Canada in early
2013. Iyanya performed at the Shrine in Chicago on 11 April 2013.
He also performed at the African Muzik Magazine launch on 12 April
2013 held in Dallas, Texas. Iyanya serenaded Grammy Award nominee
Melanie Fiona at the LTB Jean store in Soho, New York and performed at
the world-renowned New York Fashion Week.
“Applaudise” is named after the core themes of the album, which shows
Iyanya, projecting celebration, happiness, and all the good feelings
that come with being in a state of joy. Iyanya, who has lyrical depth
and versatility, takes his fans through a happy ride, as he serenadeson
This album contains core African sounds, with creative fusions and
twists to bring to you, the best of Highlife, Dancehall, Soukous,
Afrobeat, Pop, R&B and many more. The album contains four previously
released hit singles, and 16 new songs to give listeners enough of
A number of the best entertainers on the African continent
collaborated on this project, bringing in their mastery and top-notch
talent to make the album one of the best bodies of work, to be released
BankyW Patoranking, Tekno, Selebobo Olamide, Lil Kesh, Victoria Kimani, Harrysong, kcee, Seyi Shay, Don Jazzy,Mc Galaxy, Efya and sarkodie from Ghana, Diamond platinumz from tanzania, Mystro and Dannykrane are on this album.
Production of this project was handled by a select group of music makers
and engineers which include MMMG in-house producers DJ Coublon,the
proven Tee-Y Mix, Spellz, Black Jerzy, Selebobo,Mystro Princeton, Wizzy
Pro, and London Boys, Mr Chido.