American Idol is often known for producing stars out of the contestants who advance far in the competition. But sometimes, you don’t even need to make it into the top batch of contenders to create a name for yourself. No one knows this better than Queen Naija, who competed on the thirteenth season of Idol and has spent the years since building her name and her career.
What is Queen Naija known for?
Queen Naija was first introduced to the world in 2014 as Queen Bulls on American Idol. She made it as far as the Hollywood round but was cut before making it to the top 30. She returned back home to Detroit and went back to work as a security guard, focusing her attention on building her YouTube presence with her husband Christopher Sails in her free time.
In 2017, she had a very public breakup with Sails after he was caught in a cheating scandal. She then started her own channel in her own name. “Queen Naija” is her birth name given to her by her mother; “Queen” is inspired by her grandmother who had the same name, and “Naija” represented her father’s name. Her father is from Yemen, and her mother is African American.
Queen Naija’s music career
After her divorce, Queen Naija released the song “Medicine.” In it she addressed the cheating scandal and divulged all the details that fans wanted to know. “‘Medicine’ was basically made to confirm to my supporters on YouTube what happened in my marriage,” she told The Fader at the time. “Instead of talking about it, I told them I’d write a song about it. Once I saw how crazy it went outside of YouTube, I was like, ‘Okay, I need to take music more seriously.” In less than a month, “Medicine” had racked up over 5 million views on YouTube.
She signed to Capitol Records in early 2018 and released her follow-up single “Karma” shortly after. Just like “Medicine,” it was a personal song that explored her feelings surrounding her past relationship. “I just wanted to tell people how I really, really, really felt, like about not being confident about myself, and the reason why,” she reflects candidly. “I wanted people to know all the good that I was doing too. Like, how I stuck by his side, and all that stuff. How I was a good woman, and how I felt.”
“Karma” was an even bigger hit: it reached #1 on the iTunes Charts the day of its release. She capitalized on the quick success by releasing her self-titled EP in July of 2018, which sold over 1 million copies and achieved RIAA-certified Platinum status.
How much money does Queen Naija make from YouTube and music?
Queen Naija’s record deal was reportedly worth a few millions of dollars. In this day and age, however, music generally isn’t a lucrative career for the actual artist unless they’re touring, and obviously there isn’t much touring to be done in the midst of a global pandemic. As a result, most of Queen Naija’s income is from YouTube.
With approximately 4.6 million subscribers, Queen Naija makes approximately $180,000 per year from advertisements on her YouTube video. As a result, combined with the money earned from her music ventures, her net worth is estimated at $4.5 million.