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Who is Burna Boy, the 2023 Champions League final opening ceremony performer?

Grammy winner Burna Boy tops the bill of the pre-match entertainment for City and Inter fans at the Atatürk on Saturday.

Grammy winner Burna Boy tops the bill of the pre-match entertainment for City and Inter fans at the Atatürk on Saturday.
Frazer HarrisonDiarioAS

Nigerian rapper Burna Boy will be in charge of keeping City and Inter fans entertained in the build-up to Saturday’s Champions League final in Istanbul. UEFA have planned a series of pre-match activities and events, culminating with the Champions League Final Kick Off Show, sponsored by Pepsi.

The 40,000 fans from both clubs who have been lucky enough to get tickets will be able to enjoy the music from inside the stadium but those who haven’t can tune in to watch a live stream of the show, which will be broadcast in over 200 countries and territories as well as on the UEFA’s official Youtube and TikTok channels. Tournament organisers UEFA are expecting a global viewership of around 350 million.

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Swedish DJ and producer Alesso will get the party started with a short, progressive house set but the main attraction prior to kick-off will be headliner and Grammy winner, Burna Boy.

Born and raised in Port Harcourt in Rivers State, Nigeria, Burna Boy, whose real name is Damini Ebunoluwa Ogulu, was a football-crazy kid before he got the music bug and decided to make it his full-time profession. Nowadays, the 31-year-old splits his time living between London and Lagos.

A decade of success

His debut album L.I.F.E. was released nationally on CD by independent label Aristokratrecords in 2013 and spawned five singles, including the hit Like To Party. Burna Boy broadly describes his style as Afro-fusion - a blend of genres including hip hop, dancehall and reggae.

He has been nominated for a Grammy six times and picked up a gong at the 63rd edition of the gala for his fifth studio album, Twice as Tall, released on Atlantic in 2020. He has collaborated with a number of artists such as Rita Ora, Dave, Stormzy, Sam Smith, Jorja Smith, Mahalia, Lily Allen, Pop Smoke and Ed Sheeran. As for his most popular songs on streaming services such as Spotify, his big tunes are Last Last, On the Low and the 2019 summer anthem Location, which has racked up over half a million plays.

He also has a brand new release out which could get an airing this weekend, Sittin’ On Top Of The World.

Music and football, a winning combo

Burna Boy says he is looking forward to his pre-match gig at the Atatürk. He told FourFourTwo: “As a huge football fan myself, I know it doesn’t get any bigger than the Champions League! That’s why I’m so excited to be performing on the Pepsi stage at this year’s final. Music and football are the ultimate combination, so you already know I’ll be bringing the vibes and making magic in Istanbul. The world isn’t ready for what we have in store!”

After that, he and his crew will be sitting back to savour the action - but as a neutral. A lifelong Manchester United fan, Burn Boy says he won’t be taking sides in Istanbul on Saturday.


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