By Maria Bregman
It was a historic moment for African music. On February 3, 2024, the Grammy Awards presented the first-ever award for Best African Music Performance, a long overdue category and much deserved. The award recognized the immense talent, creativity, and influence of African artists, who have been shaping the global music scene for decades.
The nominees for the award were a diverse and impressive group, representing different genres, languages, and countries. They included Nigerian superstars Burna Boy, Wizkid, Tiwa Savage, and Davido, as well as Beninese legend Angelique Kidjo, who has won four Grammys in the past. All of them have made their mark on the international stage, collaborating with artists such as Beyoncé, Drake, Ed Sheeran, and Coldplay, garnering millions of fans and streams.
The winner of the award was Burna Boy, for his song “Wonderful”, a catchy and uplifting anthem that celebrates African culture and resilience. Burna Boy, who has been dubbed the “African Giant”, accepted the award with a heartfelt speech, dedicating it to his fellow nominees and all the African musicians who came before him. He also thanked his fans for their support and urged them to keep spreading the message of African unity and pride.
Burna Boy’s victory was not only a personal achievement but also a symbolic one. It was a testament to the power and potential of African music, which has been often overlooked and marginalized by the mainstream music industry. Despite the challenges of limited resources, lack of representation, and cultural stereotypes, African artists have managed to create original and innovative music that transcends borders and genres. They have also used their music as a platform to raise awareness and inspire action on issues such as social justice, human rights, and environmental sustainability.
The Grammy Award for Best African Music Performance was a long-awaited and well-deserved recognition of the diversity and richness of African music. It was also a sign of hope and optimism for the future of African music, which has proven to be a force for good in the world, especially in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, which brought people together through online platforms and social media. As Burna Boy said in his acceptance speech, “This is just the beginning. We are going to take African music to the next level.”