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How African icons are taking over the 2024 GRAMMYs

The 2024 GRAMMY Awards, scheduled for February 4, will witness the inception of the Best African Music Performance category, providing African musicians with a dedicated platform for recognition.

GRAMMY winner Burna Boy will compete with Afrobeats sensations Asake and Davido, along with emerging pop talents Ayra Star from Nigeria and Tyla from South Africa.

While this marks a milestone for the continent, it’s not the first time African artists have left their mark on Music’s Biggest Night.

Since the 1960s, when South African legend Miriam Makeba secured a win for Best Folk Album alongside Harry Belafonte, African musicians have been honored in various categories.

From Sahara desert blues bands to extraordinary voices from Senegal and Cape Verde, pop divas from Nigeria and Benin, to a superstar DJ from South Africa, the GRAMMYs have recognized and celebrated the diverse talents emanating from Africa.

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A pivotal moment in GRAMMY history came with Mariam Makeba’s win for “An Evening with Belafonte/Makeba,” breaking new ground for African artists on the global stage.

Notably, Makeba achieved this while actively challenging the apartheid regime of South Africa and contributing to the civil rights movement in the United States.

Another GRAMMY icon is Sade, real name Helen Folasade Adu. Born in Ibadan, Nigeria, with a Yoruba-ancestry father and an English mother, Adu studied fashion in London before becoming the iconic voice of the band.

Sade’s 1985 album “Promise” not only reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200 but also earned the group multiple GRAMMYs, including Best New Artist in 1986.

Their influence extends far beyond awards, with Adu’s unique style shaping the sounds of contemporary artists like BeyoncĂ©, FKA twigs, Frank Ocean, Drake, and many others.

As the 2024 GRAMMYs approach, the new African category stands as a testament to the rich musical tapestry emerging from the continent, continuing a legacy that began decades ago.