By Andrew I Kazibwe
The Recording Academy Awards recently announced its introduction of Best African Music Performance, a new category as part of the general event.
This category was part of the three categories which include Best Alternative Jazz
Album and Best Pop Dance Recording which are also new entrants all lined up for the 2024 Grammys.
The Best African Music Performance is aimed at further recognition of local expressions from across the African continent and features regional tuneful, harmonic, and musical traditions. The Category includes but is not limited to Afrobeat, Amapiano, Afro Pop, Afro-fusion, Bongo Flava, Kizomba, Kwassa, Ndombolo, South African Hip-Hop, Alte, Genge, Chimurenga, High Life,
Fuji, Mapouka, Ghanaian Drill, Afro-House, and Ethio Jazz genres.
This development places African music to a more recognizable step in line with the event as compared previously where African musicians were being nominated under the Best Global Music Performance (formerly Best World Music) and Best Global Music album categories.
With the 2024 Grammy Awards online entry process to have kicked off on July 17th, since its inception, the Grammys has featured several African acts with so far South Africa’s Ladysmith Black Mambazo leading with 16 nominations and 5 Grammys it has taken home. More African winners have included Angélique Kidjo (Benin), 4 Grammy Awards, Ali Farka Touré (Mali), 2 Grammy Awards, Soweto Gospel Choir (South Africa), 2 Grammy Awards, Youssou N’Dour(Senegal), 1 Grammy Award, Tinariwen(Mali), 1 Grammy Award, Wouter Kellerman(South Africa), 1 Grammy Award, alongside Nigeria’s Burna Boy, Wizkid Starboy, and Tems, who each have 1 Grammy Award.
It is inspirational, and a timely and progressive intervention that will inspire creativity-stated Rocky Dawuni, a Three-time Ghanaian Grammy Nominee during an interview on Music Time In Africa on Voice of America Radio
You can’t have an award system that reaches out to show excellence in American music, and also global music without integrating creatives from the mother continent,” he adds.
With African Music, Dance Pop, and alternative jazz to have been a debate for consideration for several years, this development also follows the event’s face to public criticism, from various personalities on how it wasn’t inclusive enough. Among these was US Award-winning Model Naomi Campbell who called out the Awards for its treatment of African music genres, urging that the Grammy has been blind to African creatives, how African music particularly Afrobeats was misrepresented and not given the recognition it deserved.
Annually the event receives about 20,000 entries, where entries are individually vetted by members of the Recording Academy’s Awards staff in determination of their eligibility.
With formerly 91 categories, this brings the number to 94 for the forthcoming 66th Annual Grammy Awards.