Nigerian afrobeats singer Tiwa Savage recently received an honorary doctorate from her alma mater, the University of Kent, for her “incredible music career”, the educational institution announced in a statement.
The singer, born Tiwatope Savage, already holds an undergraduate degree in Business Administration at Kent Business School. She said returning to her alma mater to receive the honorary doctorate really meant a lot to her.
“My biggest experience since leaving Kent is coming back to receive this, actually,” the 42-year-old said. “It means a lot because I remember the day of graduation. I didn’t graduate with a first, and I was disappointed because I really wanted to do that for my parents, and look where I am today.”
Born in Nigeria, Tiwa and her parents relocated to the United Kingdom when she was still young. Her musical talent manifested in her teenage years as she played the trombone in the school orchestra. She eventually started singing and joined a church choir, the university said in the statement.
Tiwa’s singing prowess afforded her the chance to provide backing vocals for prominent musicians by the time she was 16. The artists she worked with included George Michael, Mary J. Blige, Andrea Bocelli, and Ms. Dynamite.
The Somebody’s Son singer’s interest in music, however, did not get in the way of her education. She enrolled at the University of Kent in the late 1990s to pursue a course in Business Administration. She said she still applies the knowledge that she gained.
“Anytime I’m in boardrooms, anytime I’m looking at negotiating contracts. I use it (my degree) in every single aspect of my career,” the “Queen of Afrobeats” said.
Tiwa’s desire to take up music on a full-time basis led her to quit her job at a bank. She ultimately moved to New York City to start her career. She signed her first publishing deal with Sony in 2009.
The Nigerian native and award-winning singer has since gone ahead to have a stellar musical career. “Tiwa was the first African woman to sell-out at the Indigo-02 and the first African woman to win the Best African Act at the 2018 MTV Europe Music Awards,” the university said.
During her speech to accept the honorary doctorate degree, the 42-year-old shared some words of encouragement to the University of Kent Class of 2022.
“I know you’re going to be overwhelmed with decisions of what you’re going to do the minute you walk out of this door,” she started. “My prayer is that you one day will stand like this addressing students because you too have gone out into the world and you’ve overcome and never gave up.”