Chidinma Ekile, the sixth of seven children, was born in Ketu, Kosofe, Lagos State. Both of her parents are from Imo State. She worked as a business promoter in Lagos prior to auditioning for the third season of Project Fame West Africa. Chidinma started singing at the age of 6, and grew up with a disciplinarian father. When she was 10 years old, she joined her church's choir. She attended primary and secondary school in Ketu prior to relocating to Ikorodu with her family. Chidinma is currently studying sociology at the University of Lagos. She initially wanted to study mass communication. Chidinma initially declined her admission into the University of Lagos due to her advancement in the aforesaid competition. In an interview with YNaija, Chidinma said that she has always taken school seriously and her decision to enroll at Unilag was inevitable. She also said that music hasn't always been on her agenda, but decided to give it a try after winning the MTN-sponsored Project Fame music competition. After dying her hair red and getting a mohawk, people started perceiving her as a good girl gone bad. In an interview posted on the Daily Independent website, Chidinma said she is still the same. She also said she's evolving and growing as a musician.
Prior to auditioning for the third edition of Project Fame West Africa, she dreamt of being part of the reality TV show that was instituted in 2008. With the help and support from her close knit friend, Chidinma left her home in Ikorodu and went to the Ultima Studios, the venue for the show's 2010 Lagos auditions. She was among the 8,000 or so contestants who went to showcase their talents that year. Subsequently, Chidinma advanced to the Fame Academy round alongside 17 other contestants. For 10 weeks, Chidinma and the other contestants were coached by musical professionals: voice coaches, inspirational speakers, established musicians, and music business service providers. Moreover, contestants were taught choreography and several rehearsal drills. On 26 September 2010, Chidinma was announced as the winner of the competition. She won several prizes, including ₦2.5 million, a 2011 Toyota RAV4, and an album production deal. In May 2013, Chidinma signed an endorsement deal with MTN Nigeria.
Chidinma started working on her debut studio album, Chidinma, after releasing a collaborative project with other season 3 finalists of Project Fame West Africa. The album was scheduled for release in the fourth quarter of 2011. Chidinma spoke briefly about the album and said that she put a whole lot of energy into the album. Chidinma worked with different producers for her first studio project, including Cobhams Asuquo, Tee-Y Mix, WazBeat and Oscar Heman Ackah. On 22 February 2011, she released the singles "Jankoliko" featuring Sound Sultan, and "Carry You Go". Both songs were written and produced by Oscar Heman Ackah. In an interview posted on the Weekly Trust website, Chidinma said she's happy about the positive response she received after releasing the song, and is working hard to improve her craft. The music video for "Jankoliko" was directed by Clarence Peters and released on 4 June 2011; it ran for 3 minutes and 33 seconds. On 11 October 2011, Chidinma released "Kedike" as the album's third single. The song translates to "Heartbeat" and was produced by Cobhams Asuquo. The music video for "Kedike" was released on 24 January 2012 and directed by Clarence Peters. Dammy Krane, a recording artist signed to Tuface's Hypertek Digital, played Chidinma's love interest in the music video. In an interview with Entertainment Rave, Chidinma said that "Kedike" is a song that depicts love. She and her producers invented the word "Kedike". On 11 October 2011, she also released the album's fourth single "Run Dia Mouth".
Chidinma began recording her upcoming album in the fourth quarter of 2012. On 14 September 2012, she released the album's lead single, "Emi Ni Baller", featuring her fellow labelmates Tha Suspect and Illbliss. The song was produced by Legendury Beatz. It peaked at number 7 on Vanguard's list of the "Top 10 songs that made 2013". On 22 February 2013, Chidinma and her record label released the remix of "Emi Ni Baller" featuring Wizkid. The song was also produced by Legendury Beatz. On 12 June 2013, CAPital Dreams Pictures released the music video for "Emi Ni Baller". It was shot and directed in the U.K by Clarence Peters. On 10 June 2013, Chidinma released "Bless My Hustle" (featuring Phyno), "Kite" and "Jolly" as singles off the upcoming album. "Bless My Hustle" was produced by Tha Suspect and "Kite" was produced by Del B. "Jolly" was produced by Wizboy.
On 14 September 2013, Chidinma released "Oh Baby". The remix of "Oh Baby", featuring Flavour N'abania, was released on 29 January 2014. Both songs were produced by Young D. On 2 May 2014, Chidinma released the music video for "Oh Baby (You & I)". It was directed by Clarence Peters and stars Ngozi Nwosu and OC Ukeje.
Chidinma performed with Dr SID at the MTN Power of 10 Concerts, a ten-city tour that celebrated MTN Nigeria's ten-year anniversary; the tour kicked off in Makurdi on 9 September 2011. Chidinma was one of the supporting acts on the 2013 Hennessy Artistry Club Tour headlined by D'banj. On 3 November 2013, she performed at the Guinness World of More Concert alongside P-Square, D'banj, Wizkid, Ice Prince, Burna Boy, Olamide, Phyno, Waje, Davido and Tiwa Savage, among others. On 9 November 2013, Chidinma performed with Blackstreet at the Butterscotch Evening Experience, a concert held at the Eko Hotels and Suites. On 14 February 2014, she performed at the MTN Valentine Rave Party alongside Tiwa Savage, Mario and Sound Sultan. Chidinma has performed in several countries across Africa, including The Republic of Benin, Sierra Leone, Côte d'Ivoire, Kenya, Cameroun, Equatorial Guinea, Niger and Ghana.
Chidinma won the "Best Female West African Act" category at 2012 Kora Awards. Her award plaque was presented to her by Didier Drogba. She toppled Omawumi and five others for the honour. After winning the award, Chidinma said: "It was a huge honour to me. I’m grateful to God, my fans and people, who have been part of my success story. Winning KORA is a big achievement for me and I know it is the beginning of better things to come." Chidinma has cited Michael Jackson, Bob Marley, Alicia Keys, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Fela Kuti, Omawumi, Onyeka Onwenu, Lagbaja and Darey Art Alade as her biggest musical influences.
In November 2013, a viral sex tape of Chidinma's look-alike surfaced on the internet. Many people were convinced that Chidinma was the one in the sex tape. Speaking to Sunday Beats, Chidinma debunked the accusation. She said she felt bad when she initially heard the story. In an extensive interview with Nonye Ben-Nwankwo, Chidinma elaborated on the sex tape scandal. She said that while her fan base grew from the incident, she felt quite devastated. She also thanked her core fans for their support through the scandal.