Afrobeats' growing popularity in society has changed history since it has given rise to new African performers who are making a name for themselves in the music business. For this year’s Grammys awards, the Recording Academy will present three new categories, one of them is "Best African Music Performance," aimed at including some of the biggest names of Afrobeat.
Back in the year 1959, the inaugural Grammy Awards were presented to celebrate musical brilliance. Africa’s first Grammys award winner, South African Miriam Makeba, who worked with Harry Belafonte, took home the ‘Best Folk Records’ title after seven years.
The category for the best African music performance was added when Afrobeats saw a sharp increase in popularity worldwide. Afrobeats is one of the genres with the strongest growth rates on Spotify alone, as the streaming service reports that plays in the genre have increased by nearly 550% since 2017 according to CNN World news.
The five best African music performance nominees poised to make history, are:
1. Askake and Olamide: With their popular song "Ampiano," these two formidable Nigerian artists received their first nomination. With the album "Mr. Money with the Feeling," Askake , whose real name is “Ahmed Oloade” had the highest charting Nigerian debut album in history on the Billboard charts in 2022.
2. Ayra Starr : Oyinkansola, also known as Ayra Starr,is up for a nomination for her smash song "Rush" from her first studio album 19 & dangerous,. The song appeared on former US President Barack Obama's 2022 annual playlist, charted internationally, and gained popularity via a dancing challenge on TikTok.
3. Tyla : The South African singer-songwriter, has been nominated for her huge hit song "Water," which started a viral dance trend in 2023. She's been called "popiano," a cross between pop music and the ampiano style of South Africa. "Water" debuted at number 67 on the Billboard Hot 100, and shot up to number 10, making it the highest charting song of the year.
4. Davido: Afrobeats music icon David Adeleke has three Grammy nominations this year, for his song "Unavailable." Additionally, he has been nominated for best global album and best global music performance and is popularly known as ‘Davido’ among his fans.
5. Burna Boy: His real name is Damini Ebunoluwa Ogulu. Damini has been nominated for four Grammy Awards: Best Melodic Rap Performance, Best Global Music Album, and Best Global Best Global Music Performance and Best African Performance. Moreover, he will perform at the awards. He won the best global music album era at the grammys
Systemic racism in the music industry
Without a doubt, structural racism in the music industry has existed in the past Lara Estaris Evokes in her piece “Day 8: racism in the music industry”, which limits the exposure and recognition of artists of color and feeds a loop of uneven possibilities.
She also mentions that Artists of color are frequently restricted and overlooked in their creative freedom by being tokenized or pigeonholed into particular roles or genres. This not only restricts their originality but also their individuality, limiting creative freedom.
Seeing a black African woman like Miriam Makeba getting nominated and winning a Grammy for her work is almost unbelievable, and it has opened doors for other black women like Ayra starr and Tyla to take the same path.. Both individuals are young and successful so it helps other young black women to follow in their footsteps and create history.
Moreover, by introducing these three new categories, we can acknowledge and appreciate a broader array of artists," says Record Academy CEO, Harvey Mason Jr.. He also mentions that “Best Pop Dance Recording” and” Best Alternative Jazz Album” are additional categories that they are thrilled to recognize and promote the artists and recordings in these categories. He quotes that these awards are meant to “ introduce a broader selection of music to listeners across the globe.”
Addressing racism is a difficult subject and representation, diversity, the right education, and challenging stereotypes could help gain exposure for many individuals of color and be able to have creative outlets.
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