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Iyanya Biography: Education, Career, Relationship, Controversy, Songs, Awards, and Net Worth

Iyanya Onoyom Mbuk is a Nigerian Afropop musician better known by his stage name Iyanya. He rose to prominence after winning the first season of Project Fame West Africa, and his biggest hit is “Kukere.” He and Ubi Franklin co-founded the record label Made Men Music Group in 2011. In 2013, he was named Artist of the Year at The Headies. He is currently signed to Don Jazzy’s Mavin Records.

Early Life and Education

Iyanya was born on Palm Street in Calabar, Cross River State, on October 31, 1986. His father was a forester, while his mother was a school principal. Iyanya claims that his father was the gentler of the two, while his mother was the family disciplinarian. His eldest brother died around the same time as his parents in 2008. Iyanya’s grandfather was a clergyman, and when he was five years old, he joined his church’s children’s choir and was given the opportunity to lead other children.

Iyanya completed his primary, secondary, and university education in Calabar. He earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Calabar.


After graduating from the University of Calabar, he worked in a hotel and sang karaoke in a neighborhood bar that he oversaw. Iyanya began developing his singing abilities in neighborhood clubs such as West-Life, Mirage Nite Club, and Fiesta Fries Bar. R. Kelly, an American hip hop singer, and Craig David, a British vocalist, are two of Iyanya’s significant musical influences. Following the celebrity lives of 2Face Idibia and Olu Maintain motivated Iyanya to pursue a career in music. Iyanya, formerly known as “Lofty,” started out as a rapper.

Iyanya rose to prominence in Nigeria after winning the first MTN Project Fame Reality TV program in 2008. After being persuaded by KCee, he consented to take part in Project Fame West Africa’s initial season. Iyanya eventually won the challenge after defeating several opponents who were also vying for the top prize.

He launched his first music CD, “My Story,” in 2009, and he has since released several other tunes. In his song “Kukere,” he popularized the Calabar “Etighi dance.” “Ur Waist,” another of his tracks that features Emma Nyra on vocals, has earned global recognition and success.


International Appearances

Iyanya performed at comedian AY Makun’s concert at the INDIGO2 venue on November 25, 2012. Iyanya headlined the Iyanya vs. Desire concert in the United Kingdom to promote his second album. It began in London and concluded in Manchester. On June 9, 2013, the London concert took place at the INDIGO2 arena. Tonto Dikeh and Emma Nyra both gave performances. The Manchester concert began on June 14, 2013, with performances by Emma Nyra and DRB Lasgidi.

In early 2013, Iyanya and his labelmate Emma Nyra embarked on a brief tour across the United States and Canada. On April 11, 2013, Iyanya played at the Shrine in Chicago. He also performed at the premiere of African Muzik Magazine on April 12, 2013, in Dallas, Texas. Iyanya performed during the world-renowned New York Fashion Week and serenaded Grammy Award nominee Melanie Fiona at the LTB Jean boutique in Soho, New York.


Personal Life

There is not much known about Iyanya’s marital life. It was once rumoured that he was in a romantic relationship with Tonto Dikeh.

However, Iyanya grew up with a foster father, who died in the same year (2008) as his mother. He was later raised by his grandfather.



In 2020, Iyanya was charged with alleged car theft by the Police Special Fraud Unit (PSFU), in Ikoyi, Lagos State.


He was on Tuesday taken to court and arraigned before Justice Okikiolu-Ighile of an Igbosere High Court, according to a report.

The singer, however, pleaded not guilty after the charge was read to him.




  • My Story – 2009
  • Desire – 2013
  • Applaudise – 2015


Iyanya has over the years released several songs, which tops from R&B to Afropop. The dome of his songs is below;

  • Love Truly – 2009
  • No Time (featuring Faze) – 2009
  • Iyanya (My Story) – 2010
  • Kukere – 2011
  • Ur Waist (featuring Emma Nyra) – 2012
  • Kukere Remix (featuring D’banj) – 2012
  • Flavour – 2012
  • Sexy Mama (featuring Wizkid) – 2013
  • Jombolo (featuring Flavour N’abania) – 2013
  • Head Swell – 2013
  • She Can Get It – 2013
  • Le Kwa Ukwu – 2013
  • Story Story (featuring Oritse Femi) – 2014
  • Mr Oreo – 2014
  • Ijeoma – 2014

Awards and Nominations

  • Nigeria Music Video Awards (NMVA) nominated him as the Best Contemporary Afro (Live Beats choice)   – 2012
  • The Headies award for Best Pop Single – 2012
  • Song of the Year nominee at the Headies – 2012
  • Soul Train Music Awards nominee for Best International Performance – 2013
  • Channel O Music Video Awards nominee for the Most Gifted Male Video               – 2013
  • Nigeria Entertainment Awards nominee for Best Pop/R&B Artist of the Year – 2013
  • Hottest Single of the Year at the Nigeria Entertainment Awards – 2013
  • Ghana Music Awards nominee for African Artiste of the Year – 2013
  • City People Entertainment Awards nominee for Musician of the Year (Male) – 2013
  • Most Popular Song of the Year at the City People Entertainment Awards – 2013
  • Nigeria Music Video Awards (NMVA) nominee for Best High Life Video – 2013
  • Nominated for Best Use of Choreography at the Nigeria Music Video Awards (NMVA)–2013
  • Best Use of Visual Effects nominee at the Nigeria Music Video Awards (NMVA) – 2013
  • The Headies award for Artist of the Year – 2013
  • Best R&B/Pop Album nominee at the Headies – 2013
  • Album of the Year nominee at the Headies – 2013
  • Best Pop Single nominee at the Headies – 2013
  • Song of the Year nominee at The Headies – 2013
  • The World Music Awards nominee for the World’s Best Song – 2014
  • Nominated Le Kwa Ukwu for the World’s Best Video at the World Music Awards – 2014
  • Iyanya was nominated for the World’s Best Male Artist at the World Music Awards – 2014.
  • The World’s Best Live Act nominee at the World Music Awards – 2014
  • Nominated as the World’s Best Entertainer of the Year at the World Music Awards—2014
  • City People Entertainment Awards nominated Iyanya for the Musician of the Year (Male) – 2014
  • African Muzik Magazine Awards nominee for Best Male West Africa – 2014
  • Best Dance in a Video at the African Muzik Magazine Awards 2014


On 16 October 2013, 360Nobs reported that Iyanya became an ambassador for Solo Phones Nigeria, a mobile phone company situated at Computer Village, Ikeja. The one-year deal was reportedly worth $220,000 (35 million naira). In addition, Iyanya got a 2014 Toyota Prado from the deal. In 2013, the Daily Independent newspaper reported that Iyanya also signed a one-year deal with Zinox Computers (Nigeria’s first certified branded computers) worth $300,000. The deal will feature Iyanya on Zinox billboards and in TV commercials

Net Worth

Iyanya has infused lots of wealth through several ambassadorial deals, notably that of MTN. He is estimated to be worth $5 million.


Written by PH

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