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African Excellence at the GRAMMYs: A Legacy of Trailblazing Musicians


At the upcoming 66th GRAMMY Awards, a significant milestone will be reached with the introduction of the inaugural Best African Music Performance category. This category features notable nominees, including GRAMMY winner Burna Boy, Afrobeats icons Asake and Davido, and rising stars Ayra Star and Tyla. However, the representation of African artists at the GRAMMYs is not new, as the continent has produced winners since the 1960s.

African musicians have a rich history of recognition at Music’s Biggest Night. The trailblazing Miriam Makeba, from South Africa, made history in 1966 by winning Best Folk Recording with Harry Belafonte for their collaborative album “An Evening with Belafonte/Makeba.” Makeba’s achievement was particularly significant as she fought against the apartheid regime in South Africa while contributing to the civil rights movement in the United States. This paved the way for other remarkable African artists to make their mark on the GRAMMY stage.

The legacy continued with iconic figures like Sade from Nigeria/UK, Ali Farka Touré from Mali, Cesária Évora from Cape Verde, Youssou N’Dour from Senegal, Angélique Kidjo from Benin/France, RedOne from Morocco, and Tinariwen from Mali/Algeria/Libya. These artists showcased the diversity of African music, winning in various categories, from Best New Artist to Best World Music Album. The recognition of Burna Boy in 2021 and Black Coffee in 2022 further solidifies the global impact of African musicians across genres, marking a shift in perceptions and highlighting the continent’s rich musical contributions.

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