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When Ayra Starr shines brightest

The artist on tour talks all things meditation, Grammys and sushi

When Ayra Starr shines brightest  The artist on tour talks all things meditation, Grammys and sushi

The 2024 Grammy nominations are officially out, and when catching up with young & fiery hitmaker Ayra Starr, she had just been informed her name was up for Best African Music Performance. «I was on the Manchester leg of the tour when I found out Rush had been nominated! It's truly a surreal moment for me; a beautiful culmination of all those late nights and endless hours in the studio…» Having already clocked the likes of Chicago and New York, the 21 year old  - with her signature, hip-length goddess braids, knee high heeled boots and frilly mini skirts in tow - most recently headed to London’s famous KOKO venue. That was followed by two back to back nights at Paris’ intimate Bataclan. «It’s a whirlwind on tour, but rewarding witnessing her growth and how fans resonate with her talent and authenticity. From the beginning she’s always stood out, and now she's bringing her music to a global audience and making a meaningful impact» her manager Seyi shared with me just before I sat down & heard from Ayra herself. Needless to say, it’s not the easiest of times to have a sit-down interview, but for sure one of the most exciting. What better time to get an insight into the star’s meteoric rise than when she’s shining most bright in all her glory? 

I had first met Ayra Starr briefly last year at Riccardo Tisci’s Burberry afterparty in an upscale London hotel; an unforgettable night that would ultimately be Tisci's last at the heritage fashion house. Turning up and turning heads, Ayra sat right by Riccardo, gelling with the likes of Naomi Campbell, Irina Shayk and more. Like a supernova moment, she gracefully fit in amongst the starpower seamlessly.

Fast forward to today, Nigerian-Beninese Ms. Starr - real name Oyinkasola - still lives up to her celestial being tagline. Each of her afrobeat-charged, empowering anthems have racked up tens of millions in views and streams. She’s become the poster girl of most of the top playlists, including Barack Obama’s. It’s no surprise since, being the forefront woman at her label, she's brought a wave of fun & relatably sweet songs with attitude-heavy words that have become manifestos of encouragement for youngsters globally. Take the catchy Bloody Samaritan where she insists no one can «ever kill» her «vibe». Not forgetting Sability : a rallying, call-to-action type tune which is taken from her native slang term sabi (originally inspired by English word “savvy”). Indeed, Ayra Starr is full of wisdom beyond her years; she started University around age 15! The girl is ever-evolving too. «Lately, I've been loving experimenting with new sounds in the studio, finding inspiration in unexpected places, and just indulging in moments of stillness to recharge my creativity.» Her most recent take on a love ballad Rhythm & Blues depicts young love in an edgy & poetic way…it would still work in the club!



original sound - AyraStarr

Watching Ayra Starr onstage is impressive. She struts boldly, utilizing the wind machine fans for extra drama. Owning every corner of the stage, she peers into the crowd as she warmly commands interaction and dancing. The supporters scream «owww» playfully upon her request. It’s clear she’s garnered a loyal fanbase that receive her like a friend. The dainty figure & y2k, ethereal-angel core fits should not be underestimated though, there's a tasteful sexiness to how she performs. It’s not necessarily for the approval or gaze of others, I'm sure; she gives off a self-assured and secure vibe. Her consistent record-ready vocals on stage - full of trills and passionate high pitches - are strong enough to go toe to toe with any guy in her genre. Once we finally get to chatting post show, I immediately wonder how a young star like herself keeps her brightness on 100%. Especially with more cities to go. «Ginger lemon tea is a vocal lifesaver! Self-care is crucial on tour! I meditate to center myself and maintain focus. On days off, I prioritize rest, spend time with my loved ones, and explore each city's unique vibe. These are non-negotiables for me! It's about finding balance between performances and travel.»

Surely she must have an extensive list of diva requests for her tour rider…right? No, not really. Like her collaboration with Tyla, she seems even more grounded than the Girl Next Door. She passionately expresses «I gotta have Sushi for those tour vibes, and having a masseuse on set sometimes sounds like the ultimate luxury. I can never forget the essential touch of home with some Nigerian food – for grounding and connecting with my roots on the road.» Her star attraction has gone from once having her talent shimmering under the radar at small scale events, to now the majority of her 40-date international tour almost done (the final parts of Europe left). It’s only normal to wonder where her favorite stop had been, and who had shown the most love. «Every city holds a unique energy…but if I had to pick one, the love I felt in London was exceptional. The fans' enthusiasm and the vibrant atmosphere made it a standout moment. But overall, It’s been an incredible journey, connecting with my Mobstarrs in each city has been a highlight in itself.» 


Paris was simply amazing last night !!! Thank you thank you !! We go again tonight !!!

original sound - AyraStarr

As her most recent single portrays her love for a muse, I wondered if the various fan encounters had given her enough inspiration to shine on with new music. «Absolutely! The energy and experiences from this tour have been great, and as you know I've played an unreleased track for a few of my fans already! Plus, the Grammy recognition too! It means a lot to me. It's validation for the artistic journey, and a nod to the passion and creativity I’ve invested in every note and lyric. It all fuels my commitment to making music that resonates with people.»