Birth name Oyenike Laoye
Born 19 December 1980 (age 35)
Genres Urban contemporary, alternative rock, R&B, pop, hip hop, soul, Gospel
Occupation(s) Singer, songwriter, radio/TV personality, actress, and humanitarian
Years active 2005–present
Labels Wahala Media Entertainment
Oyenike Laoye-Oturu, professionally known as Nikki Laoye, is a Nigerian recording artist, singer, songwriter and dancer, renowned for her eclectic musical expressions and captivating stage performances. As a recording artist, Laoye’s music has earned her several awards including The Headies Award in 2013 for Best Female Vocal Performance and the All African Music Awards (AFRIMA) in 2014 for Best Female Artiste in African Inspirational Music.
Her passion for humanitarian activities attracted the attention of the Nigerian National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons (NCFRMI), who unveiled her as the celebrity ‘Voice of Refugees’ in Southwest Nigeria in 2013.
Her musical style is an urban contemporary sound with the fusion of alternative rock, R&B, hip hop, pop, soul, funk, jazz and Gospel.
Born in Lagos, Nigeria, Laoye hails from the musical lineage of the talking drum legend – Late Oba Adetoyese Laoye (from Ede, Osun State-Nigeria), The singer, fondly called, the small one with the big voice, rose to fame in 2006 with the hit single, “Never Felt This Way Before” from her debut studio album, Angel 4 Life (2008), which also featured other notable singles, including the Hip-Hop collaboration with Rooftop Mcs and her brother, Rap2Sai – “Taka Sufe”; the love ballad “Someone to Love” with R&B crooner Jeremiah Gyang amongst others.
The release of the single “Never Felt This Way Before” brought a fresh urban Christian contemporary sound to the Nigerian music industry. This seven-time award nominated song, (2009 Hip Hop World Awards- Best Vocal Performance (Female) and HipHop World Revelation (Best New Artist); KORA Awards-Best Spiritual Artist and Best Arrangement; 2009 City People Entertainment Awards-Musician of the Year (Female); the 2009 Nigerian Entertainment Awards in the US -Gospel Artist of the Year & 2009 SoundCity Music Video Awards-Best Female Video), received major accolades and gave Laoye the rating as the 3rd Best Performance at the 2009 HipHop World Awards in Nigeria (Darey Art Alade and Tuface coming 1st and 2nd respectively, out of the 10 performances at the awards).
Laoye was the only female contender alongside top male Nigerian Artists – M.I, Banky W and Naeto C for the HipHop World Revelation (Best New Artist) category of the 2009 HipHop World Awards.
In 2009, Laoye performed alongside Kirk Franklin, Cece Winans, Donnie McClurkin to an audience of 500,000 at The Experience Concert in Lagos.
Laoye’s music has gained critical acclaim beyond Africa, as she was one of the first three Nigerian artists ever to be interviewed and recognized on American entertainment channel, BET in 2009 and she was one of the preliminary judges for BET’s Sunday Best Auditions which held in Lagos, Nigeria in December 2009. In 2011, Laoye’s life and career were showcased in a special feature segment on BET, tagged “BET Spotlight – Nikki Laoye”.
In 2013, the singer made a comeback into the music scene after being on a hiatus following the loss of her father in 2011.
Laoye was commissioned to record her own version of the Nigerian National Anthem for Nigerian TV Producer, Mo Abudu’s Ebony Life Television in June 2013. The video is renowned as the first official music video for the Nigerian Anthem. Since its release in June 2013, Laoye has been invited to perform the anthem for the Presidency in Aso Rock, Abuja and at other official functions. As at 2013, she released the singles “No Be Beans” with Yoruba Hip Hop artist Base One; the dance single “1-2-3”; and the ballad “Only You”, a song dedicated to the memory of her late father for which she won an award for the Best Vocal Performance (Female) at the 2013 Headies Awards in Lagos, Nigeria.
Laoye was born in Lagos, Nigeria; the only daughter to Prince Olushola Isaac Laoye & Olori Christiana Yetunde Laoye. With her long natural hair, Laoye bears traces of a mixed heritage as her father, Olushola is of European (Dutch), Ghanaian and Nigerian ancestry. She is sister to three brothers: Femi, Bola and Ade, who is also known as Xblaze, a budding young music producer/Hip Hop artist in Lagos, Nigeria.
Enrolled in choirs and dance classes at the age of five, Laoye started off her education at Grace Children School, Gbagada, Lagos. Soon enough, she was singled out by her music teacher, who noticed her music abilities at such a tender age and personally offered her free piano lessons at the end of each school day. Laoye’s musical talent was further enhanced during her high school years at Federal Government Girl’s College, Sagamu (from where she graduated in 1998) and at the University of Ibadan respectively as she performed with the school choirs and joined up with music and dance groups including Exousia, Soul Alliance and the girl group trio, Soul Sistas.
In 1998, Laoye joined the youth band of Ikoyi Baptist Church and was introduced formally to contemporary gospel by friend and music director, Reginald Bassey and served as a soloist/lead vocalist for a couple of years. (Laoye later joined House on the Rock Church and was a lead vocalist for the choirs in Ibadan and Lagos for over 10 years.)
In 2000, a chance meeting along the hallways of St. Anne’s hall, a private female hostel, at the University of Ibadan brought about the creation of the female girl group, Soul Sistas, composed of Laoye, Debola Kester and Aboyowa Tene. The girls met during an evening of music, fun and games in their dorm room and struck a chord literally. They started performing together, simply for the love of it and finally took up the name “Soul Sistas” after singing at a campus fellowship and the Pastor, Dele Osunmakinde (now Pastor of The Baptizing Church, Lagos) remarked cheerfully “these ladies sing to your soul”. In 2003, The girls were joined briefly by another female singer, Funmi Ojo, but returned to a trio within the same year.
Together for five years, Soul Sistas were the only female a cappella group at the University and were renowned for their soulful harmonies including their rendition of the classic acappella song “Your Love is Better than Life”. In 2005,The girls went their separate ways after graduating from the University with Laoye pursuing a solo career and Debola and Aboyowa took up regular jobs. In 2007, the trio returned to record a remix for their hit, “Baba L’oke” for Laoye’s debut album, Angel 4 Life. In 2010, Debola contested in the Nigerian music reality show, Project Fame Season 3 and was one of the final 10 contestants alongside Ochuko, Yetunde Omo’badan, Chidinma Ekile (winner).
On 11 December 2011, Laoye married Alexander Oturu in Lagos, Nigeria.