The 16th edition of the Headies Awards burst into life on September 3, 2023, and it was nothing short of spectacular! With the theme “Celebrating African Renaissance,” it was a vibrant tribute to our rich culture and the pulsating rhythms of Afrobeat.
The stage lit up with mesmerising performances from some of the brightest stars in Nigeria and across Africa. But what makes this edition truly historic? It’s the year when the ladies claimed their crowns! For the first time ever, five remarkable women ruled over significant categories, making this Headies Awards a groundbreaking moment in music and entertainment.
These exceptional female artists secured victories in various categories, including Best Female Artist of the Year, Songwriter of the Year, Best Vocal Performance (Female), International Artist of the Year, and Best Central African Artist of the Year.
Ayra’s consistent run dominating the music space, even as a newbie, is outstanding. Unsurprisingly, she was awarded the category winner for Best Female Artist of the Year. Her platinum record “Rush” and chart-racking song ‘Bloody Samaritan’ along with her stage performances, are a testament to her deservingness of the Female Artist of the Year award.
The title of Songwriter of the Year was rightfully bestowed upon Simi Kosoko for her remarkable composition, “Loyal,” featuring the talented artist Fave. Simi’s exceptional prowess with the pen has long been acknowledged. She outshone other distinguished nominees in a competitive category, including Burna Boy, Tems, Omah Lay, BNXN, and Wizard Chan.
The enchanting resonance of Waje’s voice in her track “In Between” left no room for surprise as she rightfully claimed the title of Best Vocal Performance (Female) of the Year. Among this category’s remarkable nominees were Niniola, Simi, Liya, Preye, and Dami Oniru.
Selena Gomez clinched the International Artist of the Year title, thanks to her record-breaking single “Calm Down” with Rema. The blazing success of this song is what sets Selena apart as the winner in this category, triumphing over formidable artists like Drake, Future, Don Toliver, and Ed Sheeran.
Libianca’s internationally recognised song “People” drives this Cameroonian artist’s win as the Central African Artist of the Year.
Without a doubt, seeing more women dominating the music space is inspiring. With the future in perspective, more women will dominate more male-centred categories in years to come. With the magic of music and testament of talent, more women are set to take over the industry.
Off-stage Recognition Is No Recognition
“I will never be grateful for winning a category that wasn’t even deemed fit to be announced on stage”
– Ayra Starr
As we applaud the remarkable achievements of these incredible women, it’s imperative to shine a spotlight on the industry’s inherent inequities. The 16th edition of the Headies Awards indeed showcased enthusiastic applause for the male recipients, despite the absence of some and the casual demeanour of others towards the event’s significance. Interestingly, the award organizers did not uniformly extend this same degree of recognition to the female award winners in their respective categories.
Ayra Starr, the winner of the category for Best Female Artist of the Year, took to Twitter to condemn the despicable act of the award organisers on the night of the event.
Ayra Starr, boldly representing herself and fellow female award recipients, addressed the apparent disparity in recognition at the Headies Awards. She emphasized the organizers’ bias against female artists, contrasting it with the male awardees’ vibrant recognition on the main stage.
This deliberate act by the Headies Awards signifies a disheartening disregard for female artists’ hard work and dedication. Throughout the six-hour event, the organizers did not invite a single Nigerian female artist, despite their remarkable achievements, to receive her well-deserved award on stage.
The organizers relegated categories like Best Vocal Performance (Female), Songwriter of the Year, and Best Female Artist of the Year to Twitter announcements instead of giving them the spotlight on the main stage. This disparity is a poignant reminder of the ongoing struggle for gender equality in the music industry.
This begs us to question the organizers of the headies awards: Are Nigerian female acts not worthy of onstage recognition? Are women not worthy enough to be held in the same high esteem as their male colleagues?
Women belong on the stage!