Africa’s Recognition At the 2024 Grammys – Recording Academy CEO’s Take

BY Edwin Lamptey October 13, 2023 1:13 PM EDT
Source: Instagram.com/@grammy_awards2019

“Mind-bending. Game-changing. Eye-opening” – these are the words of The CEO of The Recording Academy, Harvey Mason Jnr, after a number of trips to some African countries to experience and have talks with African music leaders. 

Acknowledging Africa’s music prowess, Harvey expressed how Africa, the birthplace of everything including music, cannot be limited to the genres currently taking the globe by storm – Afrobeats and Amapiano.

 It was therefore expedient that the Recording Academy reflects and celebrates the success and progress happening across the African continent. Hence, together with other stakeholders, the 2024 Grammy Awards will elevate African music with one of its exciting novel categories; Best African Music Performance. 

The Recording Academy CEO shares with grammy.com how this forward-thinking initiative is the ‘first step toward a much bigger, more fruitful journey ahead ‘.

“And we’re not done as an Academy: We’re making sure that we represent music from that region fairly and accurately,” said Harvey.

Recounting memories from his trips to Africa, the CEO indicated that he listened to the leaders of the African music industry, and how they felt unrepresented and unacknowledged in the GRAMMY Awards event. He expressed the experience as eye-opening to see firsthand the love and respect for the Grammys and the Recording Academy from the continent of Africa. 

“But it was also disheartening to think that they weren’t being heard in our process” he noted.

The Grammys, which will have its 66th edition next year, is an international music award event.  It consists of a series of awards presented each year in the United States that are meant to recognize spectacular work in the music industry. The winners of the various categories are awarded a golden statuette of a gramophone. 

Tunde Ajaba-Ogundipe,  the General Manager of African strategy at Sony Music who doubles as co-founder, No Wahala was one of the stakeholders whose voice opened room for the creation of the Best African Music Performance award in the Grammy’s award scheme.

 Prior to this, Tunde played a role in 2020 in changing the Best Music Album to Best Global Album.  This change he stated was a green light to help pave the way for the Recording Academy to create an inclusive atmosphere for African music.

The No Wahala co-founder also called for applause and recognition for the past African music stars who laid the groundwork for this moment in history for African music. 

“We should recognize the African icons of the past generations like Babatunde Olatunji, Sade Adu, Ali Farka Touré, Angélique Kidjo, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Seal, Sikiru Adepoju, Youssou N’Dour, RedOne and more, for their wins across Grammy categories in the past.

“It’s hard to imagine African music having this moment across the industry without those pioneers opening the doors in an era where it was harder than ever to gain a global audience” he added.

Tunde further went on to applaud the Academy’s attempts to create opportunities for the amplification of African music stars – artistes, songwriters, and producers alike. 

According to Ghazi of Empire, another stakeholder whose voice led to the birth of this category for Africa in the Grammy’s, the categories for the celebration of African music will continue to expand in the years to come, nevertheless, this milestone should be recognized as its starting point. 

“Not only has African music exploded on a commercial level, which warrants recognition, but on a cultural level, its impact has been immeasurable.”

One African music giant who is most likely to have a number of nominations at the 66th edition of the Grammy scheduled for February next year is the Timeless star, Davido, whose real name is David Adedeji Adeleke.

With the success of the Skelewu hitmaker’s fourth studio album Timeless that features hits like Unavailable and Feel, there are four possible categories Davido is likely to receive nominations. A report from notjustok.com highlights these four categories;

  • Best African Music Performance 
  • Best Global Music Performance 
  • Best Collaboration 
  • Best Global Music

Though this appears to be the Nigerian Afrobeats star’s first-ever nomination for the Grammy Awards, he remains a force to be reckoned with in the music industry and the growth of Afrobeats on a global scale.