“Water”: Tyla’s meteoric rise from Johannesburg to global stardom

Tyla, the 21-year-old South African singer, found herself immersed in the hypnotic allure of her breakout hit, “Water” in 2023. Little did she know that this seductive summer anthem would propel her into international stardom, marking the beginning of a remarkable journey.

“When I finished it, I knew this song was something special,” Tyla reflects on her creation. Surprisingly, she found herself unable to tire of it, unlike most artistes listening to their own work repeatedly. Her intuition proved spot-on as “Water” surged to the top five in numerous countries, securing its place as the most-streamed Afrobeats song on Spotify by the end of 2023.

In the United States, Tyla achieved a historic feat, becoming the first South African solo artiste to enter the Billboard charts in 55 years. The year concluded with a Grammy nomination for Best African Music Performance, a testament to the global impact of her music.

The BBC’s Sound of 2024 list further acknowledged Tyla’s talent, placing her in the fourth spot, forecasting her dominance in the music industry for the next 12 months.

From a Zoom call in Los Angeles, Tyla expresses her gratitude, saying, “I’m super blessed and happy to be amongst all the other artists. All the greats!”

Tyla, born and raised in Johannesburg with a diverse heritage, always dreamt of being a singer. Her musical journey began when she performed “(How Much Is) That Doggie In The Window” in a school assembly, capturing the attention of her grandmother.

Despite initial challenges and her parents’ reservations about pursuing a career in music, Tyla’s determination prevailed. After catching the eye of a photographer named Garth von Glehn, she embarked on a journey that led her to her debut single, “Getting Late,” in 2019, introducing a new genre she coined as “Popiano.”

The song garnered attention internationally, sparking a record label bidding war. Legendary music executive Sylvia Rhone’s promise of creative freedom convinced Tyla to sign with Epic Records. This marked the beginning of her global journey, touring with Chris Brown and releasing a series of dance anthems.

Tyla’s breakthrough hit, “Water,” not only dominated charts but also ignited trends on TikTok, where fans mimicked her steamy dance moves. The song’s success reached unexpected heights when Janet Jackson incorporated it into her US tour.

With her self-titled debut album set to release in March 2024, Tyla is poised to surprise and captivate audiences worldwide. She reflects on her journey, saying, “I feel like people are going to be so surprised, like, ‘Where did this girl come from?'”

As Tyla continues her ascent to pop stardom, her biggest fan remains her grandmother Ivy, who eagerly watches all her performances and jokingly asks, “How many dollars did you make me?” 

The singer’s meteoric rise serves as an inspiration, proving that sometimes, one song is sometimes all you need to make waves around the globe.

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