Teni: A Shining Afrobeats Star

To inspire the next generation of creatives, Bolanle Austen-Peters of Terra Kulture invited Teni to share her creative journey and connection to the contemporary Afrobeats scene.

By Terra Kulture

Teni's Creative Journey (2021)Terra Kulture

Teniola Apata, professionally known as Teni (also referred to as Teni The Entertainer or Teni Makanaki) is an award-winning Nigerian songwriter, singer, performer, actress and social media sensation. A graduate of Business Administration from the American Intercontinental University in Atlanta, Teni notched numerous nominations including Best International Act 2019 (Nominee) at the BET Awards.

Meet Teni here and get to know one of Nigeria's most exciting Afrobeat artists.

Teni (2020)Terra Kulture

“I grew up in Okota Isolo, Ire-Akari in Lagos, and moved to Atlanta to study at university. I grew up surrounded by a lot of siblings and family members in the house. I think at a time we were twenty something in my house. Growing up was fun.”

Teni (2020)Terra Kulture

“I learnt how to sing from Nini. I would be punished if I didn't get it right. I would be rewarded with her special milk balls if I got it right. I have been in front of a camera since I was 2 years old. I used to play the drums. I’ve played for Governor Marwa, Governor Fashola and Tinubu.”

Teni (2020)Terra Kulture

“Growing up I would listen to Funmi Aragbaye which my mum played every morning. My step mom is Igbo and lived upstairs, and she played Osita Osadebe. My other step mom lived downstairs and she used to play Baba Ara and Indian music. Growing up I used to listen to all kinds of music including King Ayinde Wasiu Marshal, King Sunny Adé and Ebenezer Obey.”

Teni (2020)Terra Kulture

“I have always been the class clown. My classmates would start laughing at everything I would say. I'm that kid who used to get into trouble, because I could not shut up. I guess I have a gift in making people a little happier.”

Teni (2020)Terra Kulture

"My mom once told me; be yourself and the world will accept you for who you are. Be yourself and the world will be okay.”

Teni (2020)Terra Kulture

“I decided to start making music while I was at university in Atlanta. I didn't like to party, I didn't drink and I didn't smoke. I enjoyed playing basketball but I was bored. There was a recording studio at my university and I used to go there and just record. That’s how I professionally started recording, because I was bored.”

Teni (2020)Terra Kulture

“One day I was in my friend’s house and everybody went out. I was the only one at home with my friend’s younger sister. She was like Bolaji record me, but she said no. I took the phone and I did a freestyle called ‘Faaji’. It went viral online. Everyone loved it and that's how music started for me professionally.”

Teni (2020)Terra Kulture

“I am a free spirit. I feel music on a very spiritual level. When I get in the studio, I vibe. The first thing I tell the producer is to record me talking and after that we rearrange it. I recorded the song ‘Billionaire’ in three cities. First in LA, then in Orlando and finally in Las Vegas.”

Teni (2020)Terra Kulture

“To me, Afrobeat is anything that has an African element. Afro and then beat. If I add something like gangan to my song, I can decide to call it Afrobeat. I guess that’s just my opinion. People say Afrobeat was created by Fela Kuti, and what he said was all about putting African sound together.“

Teni (2020)Terra Kulture

"I think music started in Africa. If you look at Yoruba culture for example, we have songs for everything. We have folklores and orin owe, when you insult someone in proverbs. We have songs for when you give birth and we have songs for weddings. The stars are aligned for Afrobeat and it will spread to the world. Afrobeat is going to be here for a long time.”

Teni (2020)Terra Kulture

"I always tell people, better live your best life. You just don’t know when you will die. I try my possible best to be happy.”

Credits: All media
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