Who’s Tyla and Why is She Famous?

South African Singer Behind Viral Hit "Water" and Her Journey to Fame

Tyla, a name rapidly gaining international acclaim, is a South African singer whose viral hit “Water” has catapulted her to global stardom. The young artist’s career is on a meteoric rise, with her catchy Afrobeat-infused songs and vibrant personality resonating with fans worldwide. This article delves into Tyla’s journey, her musical influences, and the factors contributing to her fame.

The Rise of Tyla: A Star is Born

Born Tyla Laura Seethal on January 30, 2002, in Edenvale, Gauteng, South Africa, Tyla has always been passionate about music. Growing up in Johannesburg, she was exposed to a rich tapestry of musical genres, including Afrobeats, amapiano, house, and Kwaito. This diverse musical background significantly influenced her unique sound, blending African rhythms with R&B and pop elements.

Tyla’s journey to stardom began in her teenage years. She started posting singing videos on social media, quickly gaining a following for her impressive vocal skills and charismatic presence. Despite her passion for music, Tyla initially pursued a degree in mining engineering, a decision influenced by her parents’ desire for her to have a stable career. However, her love for music was undeniable, and she eventually convinced her parents to allow her to focus on her musical ambitions.

Breakthrough with “Water”

Tyla’s big break came with the release of her single “Water” in 2023. The song, characterized by its infectious beat and sultry lyrics, quickly went viral, amassing millions of streams and topping charts globally. “Water” peaked at No. 21 on the Billboard Hot 100 and became a social media sensation, spawning the popular “Water Dance Challenge” on TikTok.

In an exclusive interview with PEOPLE, Tyla shared her excitement about the success of “Water.” “First of all, it’s a banger, like it’s a crazy song,” she said. “I worked with my choreographer in South Africa, and we made that dance. When I performed on stage, I just threw water, like I didn’t even think about it.”

Her performance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon marked her American television debut, further cementing her status as a rising star. The audience was captivated by her dynamic stage presence and impressive dance moves, showcasing her versatility as an entertainer.

Musical Influences and Style

Tyla’s music is a reflection of her diverse cultural heritage and musical influences. She grew up listening to a mix of African and Western music, drawing inspiration from legendary artists such as Michael Jackson, Rihanna, and Aaliyah. “I really looked up to Michael Jackson as a performer specifically. I also looked up to Rihanna and Aaliyah as well,” she revealed.

Her debut single “Getting Late,” released in 2019, was a testament to her ability to blend genres seamlessly. The song, featuring Kooldrink, combined amapiano beats with pop and R&B melodies, creating a fresh and unique sound that resonated with listeners. Tyla’s ability to incorporate her South African roots into her music sets her apart in the global music scene, making her a trailblazer for African artists.

Social Media Savvy and Active DMs

Tyla’s rise to fame can be largely attributed to her savvy use of social media. With over 6 million followers on TikTok, she has a significant influence on the platform. Her engaging content, including singing videos, dance challenges, and behind-the-scenes glimpses into her life, has garnered her a dedicated fan base.

Despite her growing popularity, Tyla remains down-to-earth and approachable. In her interview with PEOPLE, she candidly discussed the attention she receives on social media. “My DMs are always active, honey! I’m telling you, there’s always someone in there that I wouldn’t expect, so yeah, it’s booming!” she laughed.

The Making of the “Water” Music Video

The music video for “Water” almost didn’t happen, according to Tyla. “We weren’t actually going to shoot a video, and then the song just went viral,” she explained. The overwhelming response from fans prompted her team to create a visual representation of the hit song. Directed by Child, a renowned music video director, the video features stunning choreography and vibrant visuals that perfectly complement the track’s energetic vibe.

Tyla admitted to feeling nervous before the video’s release. “I was so nervous, like I literally couldn’t sleep. I was just waiting for it to drop. But after I saw the response was good, it was such a relief. I just felt so much better after all that.”

Life Beyond the Spotlight

When she’s not recording or performing, Tyla enjoys spending time with her family and indulging in simple pleasures. “I love to just lay down, close the curtain, maybe go on TikTok. Sometimes I watch TV or when I’m at home, I love to just chill with my family,” she shared.

For Tyla, family time is precious. She fondly described a cherished tradition of sitting on her parents’ bed and talking about anything and everything. “That’s something that I really enjoy doing. Basically, I just chill,” she said.

Achievements and Awards

Tyla’s hard work and talent have not gone unnoticed. In 2024, she became the youngest African artist to win a Grammy Award, receiving the inaugural Grammy Award for Best African Music Performance for “Water.” This accolade is a significant milestone in her career, highlighting her impact on the music industry.

tyla grammy

In addition to her Grammy win, Tyla has earned nominations for several prestigious awards, including a BRIT Award, a Soul Train Music Award, a MOBO Award, and two South African Music Awards. Her debut album, released in 2024, received critical acclaim and achieved commercial success, entering the top 25 in multiple countries.

Future Aspirations

Tyla’s ambition extends beyond her current success. She dreams of becoming the first global pop star from Africa, a goal she is well on her way to achieving. Her music, characterized by its fusion of pop and amapiano genres, has earned her the title of “Queen of Popiano,” and she continues to push boundaries with her innovative sound.

As she looks to the future, Tyla remains focused on creating music that resonates with her audience and represents her cultural heritage. “I knew that I wanted my culture in it,” she said of her music. This commitment to authenticity is a key factor in her appeal, allowing her to connect with fans on a deeper level.