Home Lifestyle ‘Water’ singer Tyla is a global phenomenon

‘Water’ singer Tyla is a global phenomenon


The 21-year-old was catapulted into mainstream success with her viral hit song ‘Water’, which was released in July.

Joburg-born global superstar Tyla. File image

JOBURG-born international singing sensation Tyla has joined an illustrious list of South African talents who have found global fame.

From Black Coffee, Trevor Noah and Benni McCarthy to Charlize Theron, the South African singer and songwriter is the latest Mzansi star to be exported to the world stage and has since been solidified as one of Africa’s rising musical talents.

The 21-year-old, whose real name is Tyla Laura Seethal, was catapulted into mainstream success with her viral hit song “Water”, which was released in July of this year.

And since then, the single has been a top 10 hit in a dozen countries including the UK and Australia. It was also the first song by a South African soloist to enter the US Billboard Hot 100 since jazz legend Hugh Masekela’s “Grazing in the Grass” 55 years ago.

This accolade makes her South Africa’s youngest musician to appear on the list, with “Water” also trending for several weeks on TikTok. The catchy tune has since inspired the viral “Water” dance challenge on the social media platform.

The song, which fuses a mix of genres, including Afrobeats, pop, R&B, and amapiano, a South African style of electronic dance music, has also seen Tyla being nominated for a Soul Train Music Award and two South African Music Awards (Samas).

Joburg-born global superstar Tyla. File image

“Seeing like Megan Thee Stallion use it, Christina Aguilera, Tinashe, all these crazy people that I look up to using my song, it doesn’t feel real, and it’s all happening all at once,” she told News24 last month.

“Water’s” accompanying music video was released last month and has since garnered millions of views on YouTube.

Tyla’s monumental success of a year also extends to touring with Chris Brown for his “Under the Influence” tour in Europe earlier this year, as well as what her label described as her “first-ever fashion debut” as she sat pretty next to Kim Kardashian at the Dolce & Gabbana (D&G) show in Milan, Italy, in February.

Not only did the 21-year-old star stand out amongst A-list guests, but she also performed at the after-party for the luxury fashion brand, wearing a bustier from Kardashian’s D&G Spring Ready-to-Wear collaboration.

The pop sensation has also performed live on “The Bianca Show” in Sweden and “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” in the US.

And while Tyla’s star continues to rise, her life began in Johannesburg and her multicultural origins include Zulu, Indian and Mauritian descents.

Born on January 30, 2002, the songstress matriculated from Edenglen High School in Edenvale in 2019. Her artistic flair was evident early on in her schooling life as she was the head of culture at her school during her matric year.

And while the pop star began studying towards a degree in mining engineering after matriculating, she soon realised that entertainment was her passion and since then, Tyla has committed her life to her music career.

“Ever since I could say the word ‘singer’, it was all I told people I wanted to be,” she explained to “Metal Magazine”. “I grew up listening to almost every genre and I come from a very musical family.”

Tyla explained to the publication that her music career started very early in her childhood. “I remember watching Michael Jackson and Rihanna concerts, music videos and just imagining myself in that space. Nothing else ever felt right and I truly believe it’s my calling.”

She also told the publication that she listened to the likes of Aaliyah and Cassie “dreaming I could also be a superstar one day”.

“Them being young women of colour was something that motivated me and kept my dreams strong.”

Meanwhile, Tyla’s humble beginnings included posting original songs and cover hits to her Instagram account, as well as sending them out to a number of figures in the music industry.

Her ambition led to the songstress being discovered by her first manager, Garth von Glehn, who then organised her first recording sessions.

Joburg-born global superstar Tyla. Picture: Instagram

And in late 2019, Tyla released her debut single, “Getting Late”, featuring production from Kooldrink, which achieved national success.

The accompanying music video was filmed by her own manager intermittently throughout the Covid-19 lockdowns and was released in January 2021.

That was Tyla’s first taste of stardom as the music video amassed several million views on YouTube and “Getting Late” was nominated for Music Video of the Year at the 2022 Samas.

This success saw Tyla signing a recording contract with Epic Records through a joint venture with Fax Records in the US. The South African songstress then released “To Last” and “Overdue”.

And despite Tyla’s international success, she insists that she remains proudly South African.

“I’m a South African born and bred in Johannesburg. It’s crazy,” she reacted on X recently following her Billboard entry.

“Let’s make our sound heard all over the world,” enjoined the artist, who is preparing for the release of her debut album, hailing it “a victory for all of Africa”.

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