African music takes centre stage: Grammy awards introduce new categories

The Recording Academy has made history by adding the category of 'Best African Music Performance.'

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Nigerian music artist, Burna boy, speaks during an interview with Reuters at his studio in Lagos, Nigeria March 18, 2021. Picture taken March 18, 2021. REUTERS/Temilade Adelaja

This pivotal addition, along with Best Alternative Jazz Album and Best Pop Dance Recording, marks a new era of celebration of more diverse musical expressions.

Commendably, the Recording Academy’s decision to recognise African music as a distinct category was voted on and passed during their recent bi-annual Board of Trustees meeting in May 2023.

Harvey Mason Jr., the CEO of the Recording Academy, expressed pride in these changes, emphasizing inclusivity and responsiveness to feedback from various representatives in the music industry.

Mason stated, “The Recording Academy is proud to announce these latest Category changes to our Awards process. These changes reflect our commitment to actively listen and respond to the feedback from our music community, accurately represent a diverse range of relevant musical genres, and stay aligned with the ever-evolving musical landscape.”

He asserted that the introduction of new categories allows for a broader appreciation of artists, enabling all voters to identify excellence among them.

On Tuesday, the Grammy Awards in the American music industry declared that they would present a gramophone to honour the best African music performance in their upcoming edition, marking another indication of their commitment to diversity and a significant recognition for the genre.

This award acknowledges the variety present in a wide range of styles such as Afrobeats/Afro-fusion, kwassakwasa, ndombolo, Ghanaian drill, Afro house, and South African hip-hop. This move reflects not only the growing influence of African music worldwide but also the decision to embrace multiculturalism toward a new musical culture.

In a press release, the Grammys organisers stated that the category would reward, “recordings that use the unique local expressions of the African continent.” This landmark recognition firmly places African music among the Grammys, confirming its worldwide influence and relevance.

These new categories are set to premiere at The 2024 GRAMMYs, officially referred to as the 66th GRAMMY Awards.

Watch the 66th GRAMMY Awards LIVE on Feb. 4th online on cbs


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