Nigeria: Burna Boy Among African Stars in Rolling Stone’s Greatest Singers

Nigerian music star Burna Boy and South Africa’s Mariam Makeba made Rolling Stone’s ‘Greatest Singers List’.

They ranked 197th and 53rd respectively.

Also on the list are Nigeria’s Afrobeat legend Fela Kuti, who ranked 188th, and Senegalese tenor Youssou N’Dour ranked 69th.

Other African musicians who make an appearance on the list include South African mbaqanga singer Mahlathini (153), Egyptian star Umm Kulthum (61) and British-Nigerian soul singer Sade Adu (51).

Rolling Stone, one of the world’s leading music publications platforms, released a list of 200 who they claim to be the greatest of all time.

The publishers say the singers were judged on originality, influence, catalogue depth, and the breadth of their musical legacy.

Published on New Year’s Day, several notable American singers, from Frank Ocean to Kelly Clarkson and Toni Braxton, were included in the list.

And it was the US soul and motown singer Aretha Franklin who topped the list to claim the title of the greatest singer of all time.

“In all cases, what mattered most to us was originality, influence, the depth of an artist’s catalogue, and the breadth of their musical legacy.”

The platform says the list differs from the Greatest Voices List. “Talent is impressive; genius is transcendent. Many people here were born with massive pipes, perfect pitch, and boundless range.

Others have rougher, stranger, or more delicate instruments.”

Rolling Stone described Burna boy as an “ambassador of Afrobeats as a global movement” that can feel equally at home climbing the European charts and maintaining a subtle emotional connection with past African genres.

The publication said Burna’s voice “is sweet like caramel, but it can also soar on slickly produced tracks like his recent megahit ‘Last Last’ or the 2019 gem ‘Anybody’ excited by deep bass accents and insanely sophisticated polyrhythms.

“His vocal lines find inspiration in everything from hip-hop and R&B to hooky pop and dancehall. The world is his playground.”

For Kuti, the publication described the late icon as an innovator for the high life, “Fela Kuti’s iconic songs of the 1970s and 1980s are sprawling orchestral instrumentals, an innovative swirl of African highlife, American soul, and Jazz.”

Describing his political influence through his music, they wrote, “Through his music, he shared an anti-colonialist, Pan-African vision and challenged Nigeria’s corrupt military government, which routinely subjected him and those around him to immense harm.”

Meanwhile, Burna boy apologised to his fans for showing up over six hours late at his concert in Lagos on Sunday. The singer, who said he arrived at the venue early, blamed the late start of the show on the organisers.


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