The Apata sisters, Teni and Niniola have made sure that their unique voices are heard, and have been a force to reckon with. Even though they are sisters, they have their own sounds that they are not afraid to share with the rest of the world. While Niniola describes her music as afro-house, Teni is more inclined to sing pop music.
Born to former Brigadier General and educationist, Simeon Olaosebikan Apata, and different mothers; their father’s love for music influenced their decisions to take up music professionally. During an interview on Ndani TV, Niniola said, “my dad started music for us in that house because he loved music. He started the school band – instruments, drums – I think all of us in my family can play a tenor drum or side drum”.
Their father was assassinated when Nini was eight years old and Teni was only two years old, and it caused their polygamous family to become even closer. After the tragedy, Nini who had always been a lover of dance and music started to train Teni in the art of singing by making her act as a backup singer to her staged performances at home. According to the sisters, they were not allowed to go out so they had no choice but to play with each other and they used music to fill the gap for fun. Teni told Punch in an interview that, “my elder sister, Niniola, and I used to disturb everyone at home the with our music sessions, so it has always been part of us.”
As they grew older, Niniola became more intentional about her music and started attending different talent auditions hoping to get a shot. In an interview on Ndani TV, she told Bolanle Okunola, “I jumped from one reality TV show, singing TV show to the other. I got my fair shares of NOs, you are not good enough. They will tell you to your face, ‘you are singing rubbish’.” She started her ‘talent show journey’ from a church competition to West African Idols, where she auditioned twice. After getting rejected at both auditions, she joined a band to get better and finally gave up on music for a short time. She was later advised by her brother to try out for X-Factor but she didn’t pass the auditions. She decided to try one more time at Project fame and luckily got a slot and finally made it to the finals.
After her breakthrough on Project Fame, she started her career professionally, releasing her hit 2014 song, “Ibadi”. However, the singer has said in different interviews that she believes her big break came after she released “Maradonna” in 2017. Since releasing that song, Nini has been nominated for international awards such as the BET awards and the South African Music Awards (SAMA). She has also won multiple awards like the 2016 All Africa Music Awards (AFRIMA) for ‘Best African Collaboration’ and the 2018 Maya Awards ‘Youth Artiste of The Year’. She has continued to drop club bangers such as “Bana”, “Magun”, “Designer”, “Boda Sodiq”, and “Omo Rapala”.
Teni has also always loved music. She started singing at 2 years old and drumming at 7. She credits her voice training to her sister, Niniola. She told Bolanle Okunola in an interview that Nini “did a great job helping me out, coaching me, and giving me voice lessons growing up.”. Leveraging on social media to launch her career, Teni started dropping comedic and freestyle videos on her page. She got her much needed break in 2017 after her “Fargin” freestyle went viral. Running on the success of the video, she made a professional version of the song and has continued to drop hit songs ever since.
Some of her songs like ‘Billionaire’, ‘Uyo Meyo’, ‘Power Rangers’ and ‘Case’ have become street anthems. She has also received multiple awards from the Headies, Soundcity MVP, and Nigerian Entertainment Awards. In 2019, She became the second Nigerian woman to be nominated for ‘Best African Act’ at the MTV Europe Music Awards. She attributes all the success she has experienced in her career to God, telling Punch in an interview that, “there is no other way I could have achieved this without God; I cannot take that away from Him. People find it amazing that I kicked off my career in 2016 and by 2017, I was already performing at top shows in the country. It is only God that can do things that will make people wonder; I cannot do that.”
Both sisters have now cemented their place in the Nigerian music industry and have become household names. They always have each other’s back so much so Niniola said during an interview on Ndani, “And now I’m super proud of her (Teni) because that’s my younger sister you are talking about. You know, nobody else, I’d rather her than anybody else.”
Both sisters have shown no signs of slowing down and we look forward to seeing what new feats they would achieve going forward, particularly if there will be a collaboration between the siblings.
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