Niniola Apata is a Nigerian singer and songwriter who is known by her stage name Niniola, which also happens to be her real name. She first came into the limelight after she participated in Project Fame West Africa’s sixth season. However, since then, Niniola has gone a long way in making a name for herself in the Nigerian music industry as we will see in subsequent sections of her biography.
Niniola songs are categorised as Afro-house or folk, which is a genre of music that mixes soulful house music with Afrobeats. It is little wonder that her songs have made her popular in other African countries besides Nigeria. Without further ado, let’s see a brief summary of important facts about Niniola.
10 facts about Niniola
- Niniola Apata was born on 15th December 1986.
- Her father was Simeon Apata, a popular retired Brigadier General that was assassinated when she was about eight years old.
- She is the older sister of popular Nigerian singer, Teniola Apata.
- Niniola had been a teacher before she became a musician and she says that she enjoys teaching.
- She had been a contestant on MTN’s Project Fame West Africa Season 6 in 2013.
- Her first official single was Ibadi, produced by SARZ and was released in March 2014.
- On 1st November 2017, Niniola dropped her debut album which houses 13 songs, all written by her.
- She became the first Nigerian female artiste to get over 1 million listeners on Spotify in a month on 7th August 2018,
- In April 2020, Niniola got her Grammy nomination certificate for contributing as a composer to the success of Beyonce’s The Lion King: The Gift album.
- DJ Snake, a renowned Algerian-French DJ and record producer did a remake of her hit track, Maradona, in July 2018 titled, Maradona Riddim.
Niniola Biography: Early life and education
Niniola Apata is mostly known by her stage name Niniola. She was born on 15th December 1986 into a popular large family living in Lagos State. However, she is from Ekiti State, her late father’s hometown and not from Lagos State.
Niniola’s father was Simeon Apata, a retired Brigadier General that was assassinated on 8th January 1995. She was about eight years old when her father was killed. Simeon Apata had married three wives and thus naturally had a large family. What many agree on is that unlike many typically large households with several wives, the Apata family showed a united front.
Niniola Apata attended Apata Memorial High School, a military-styled private boarding school in Lagos that her father had founded in 1980. From Apata Memorial High School, she went on to the University of Lagos and bagged a bachelor’s degree in Education.
Niniola is also an elder sister of another popular singer, Teni Akpata, known by her stage name Teni or Teni Makanaki by ardent fans.
Niniola Biography: Music career
According to a blog that claims to be Official Niniola, Niniola has always had an interest in music even as a little child. Thus, while growing, she seized every opportunity to sing. The blog writes:
“In high school, she had a sort of request show during her free time where her friends will make requests and she will sing to her classmates. This was possible because of her large repertoire of songs and clear vocals… She was tagged “the human radio’.”
Knowing her ability to sing, she joined cultural groups in school and participated in social activities that gave her an opportunity to showcase her talent. Niniola cites her musical influences as Dolly Parton, Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, The Cranberries, Madonna and Beyoncé. These likely made her practice hitting vocal notes early in life that many singers can only imagine.
She adds that Yoruba and other African music in general also appealed to her. Thus, they shaped how she approached music and likely ordered her creativity and delivery.
In the preceding sections, we will chronicle Niniola’s music career starting from when she participated in MTN’s Project Fame but first, let’s take a look at her brief stint as a teacher.
Before participating in the 2013 Project Fame competition, Niniola taught as a teacher. After all, she has a degree in Education, so it’s safe to say that teaching is also something she is passionate about besides music. Speaking about the time, Niniola says:
“I taught during my teaching practice at Clegg Girls Secondary School, Lagos and I had so much fun with the girls before going to my dad’s school where I became a supervisor for a couple of years.”
However, it is safe to say that her love for music trumps that for teaching judging from her career and the success she has made of it so far.
MTN Project Fame
The first time most people heard of Niniola was when she competed in MTN’s Project Fame West Africa Season 6 in 2013. She had tried several other talent shows and had gotten rejections until this one.
During the Project Fame contest, she performed KCee’s Limpopo and her own song Itura, which Cobhams Asuquo had produced. While her memorable performances had not been enough to earn her a first-place win, she finished the competition as third runner-up. From then on, she never looked back and pursued a career in music full-time. Watch video of her performing Itura below:
Niniola’s music career (2014 – 2016)
Following her exposure to music, Niniola delved into the world of making music professionally. To set the ball rolling, Niniola dropped her official single Ibadi in March 2014 and it was produced by SARZ. The song immediately attracted listeners and gave the artiste her first set of devoted fans, many of who were from her Project Fame days. The song got lots of positive reviews and did well on charts within the country.
In addition to this astonishingly good start, Niniola carved a niche for herself when she proclaimed that her song is to be considered as an Afro-house song. After her initial success, she kept dropping songs after songs. From Gbowode to Akara Oyibo and Soke as well as Shaba, Niniola still tried to blend her music to sound both mainstream and at the same time unique.
Before long, she was getting well-deserved recognition. Award nominations came hot on the heels of her releases and Nigerian music blog, NotJustOk, named her among the 15 artistes that would make 2015 memorable. The Nigeria Entertainment Awards also nominated her for an award in 2015 among other nominations.
Maradona and This Is Me Album (2017 – 2018)
In March 2017, Niniola and SARZ again came together to make a hit song titled Maradona. The song became a must-hear in virtually anywhere one visited in Nigeria. Radio and TV stations were playing it around the clock. Even beyond the shores of Nigeria, South Africa’s notable Metro FM chart had Maradona at the number 1 position for six weeks and it stayed in the charts for a total of 13 weeks. The song also topped Nigeria’s Beat FM charts as well.
The song caught the attention of DJ Snake, a renowned Algerian-French DJ and record producer and he did a remake of the hit track with Niniola in July 2018 titled Maradona Riddim.
On the 1st of November 2017, Niniola dropped her debut album, This is Me. She wrote all 13 songs on the album and featured artistes like Patoranking and Terry Apala. The album had her smash hit single, Maradona as well as Sicker, another hit song that made waves in its prime. Other songs it contains include Saro, Oyin, Magun and Hold Me. The album was really well received by critics and fans as well.
Producers that worked on the album include SARZ, Johnny Drille, ODH, Legendury Beatz and others. It was nominated at the South African Music Awards and BET Awards in 2018. Niniola went on a tour in South Africa in February 2018 and again went back in March of the same year to perform at a concert.
On 7th August 2018, Niniola became the first Nigerian female artiste to get over 1 million listeners on Spotify in a month according to The Guardian.
She hosted her first concert in Nigeria themed, The Human Radio on 9th November 2018. The event was held at Landmark Event Center in Victoria Island, Lagos.
In April 2019, Canadian rapper Drake requested that the host of the BBC 1Xtra Rap Show play Niniola’s Maradona. He also followed her on Instagram after the show.
Niniola Grammy certificate 2020
Beyonce sampled some parts of Maradona in the song Find Your Way Back, which appeared on The Lion King: The Gift album. The American iconic singer recognised Niniola’s contributions to the project and gave her due credits as both a songwriter and composer. Thus, in April 2020, Niniola got her Grammy nomination certificate for contributing as a composer to the success of Beyonce’s The Lion King: The Gift album.
For more on this, see this article: Niniola receives Grammy recognition certificate for input in Beyonce’s album
Niniola and Teni relationship
Many have been asking if Niniola and Teni are sisters. The answer is yes, Niniola is the elder sister of popular Nigerian singer Teni. This is obvious to many as they share a common last name, Apata. Also, it is possible that Niniola influenced Teni’s decision to join the music industry as she has been a professional singer long before Teni came on board.
On several occasions, Niniola has shown her love for her younger sister, Teni. One popular example was when some trolls were poking fun at Teni because of her size. Niniola had gone all out and called the people “stupid” on a YouTube interview with Hot FM Radio.
In addition to this, many people who love the sisters have been requesting that they release a song together. There have been rumours that Niniola and Teni were working on a song together but there has been no news on this recently.
Niniola Biography: Personal life and relationship
According to close sources, Niniola is a Christian and she is very easy going and a fun person to be with it. While her parents were not musicians, they loved songs and her father would usually play records in the house. Her relationship with her mother is good, but she said that in the beginning, she had not supported her decision to go into music. In an interview with PUNCH she says:
“At first, they didn’t lend me their support. I remember that I used to hide then to go and record music and also perform at events. However, the story has changed. My mum now has a huge picture of me in her office, and she is proud of who I am becoming.”
Niniola also revealed that she loves teaching and cooking as well.
Regarding her romantic relationship, Niniola Apata appears to be single as it is not known publicly if she is dating or is in a relationship with anyone.
She had once said that she would not marry anybody in the entertainment industry.
Niniola Biography: Net worth
There are claims that Niniola Apata is worth between $1 million to $5 million. But these figures are not from verified sources and are more likely to be speculations.
However, to get a sense of what Niniola’s net worth might be, we will need to take a look at some of her publicly known sources of income. As of now, we did not find reports about endorsement deals that she has signed with any big name brands.
Likely she may have some coming her way soon. But she makes money from her songs, especially via streams. For example, since she has crossed 1 million listeners on Spotify, she likely received payment for this. A Quora post claims that this is worth between $6,000 (NGN2.3 million) to $8,400 (NGN3.2 million).
Niniola also performs at shows and concerts and this is another avenue for her to earn money.
Most of her singles on YouTube have gotten over 2 million views as well. Thus, while we cannot provide a certain value for Niniola’s net worth, we know that she is doing well financially for now.
Final thoughts …
Niniola Apata has proven time and again that she has the ability to make hit songs. Her far-reaching recognition is also proof that not just Nigerians appreciate her talent. Reading Niniola’s biography shows that she worked tirelessly to attain the height that she has reached.
She is rightly considered one of Nigeria’s foremost female singers and the queen of Afro-house as well. We hope that this talented woman keeps giving listeners many more songs.
Below, we provide some other relevant information that you should have regarding Niniola.
Bonus Niniola information
- Winner of 2016 All Africa Music Awards for Best African Collaboration “Mbilo Mbilo” (Remix).
- Winner of 2017 Nigerian Teens Choice Awards for Choice Female Vocalist of the Year.
- Winner of 2018 Maya Awards for Youth Artiste of The Year Won.
- Winner of 2018 Glazia Awards for Glazia Persons of The Year.
- Winner of Ghana-Naija Showbiz Awards for Best Female Act
Niniola album (This is me) tracklist
- Always Here
- Hold Me
List of selected Niniola’s songs
- Ibadi (2014)
- Gbowode (2014)
- Soke (2015)
- Akara Oyibo (2015)
- Start All Over (2016)
- J’ete (2016)
- Jigi Jigi (2016)
- Shaba (2016)
- Saro (2017)
- Maradona Riddim (2017)
- Magun (2017)
- Oyin (2017)
- Bale (2017)
- Moyo (2017)
- Maradona (2017)
- Sicker (2017)
- Bana (2018)
- Designer (2019)
- Omo Rapala (2019)
- Fantasy (2020)