Nigeria: Will Burna Boy Break the Grammy Jinx?

Photo: Pixabay
(file photo).
24 January 2020
analysis

Last year saw the The 'Ye' star join Nigerian musicians like Babatunde Olatunji, King Sunny Ade, Femi Kuti, and Seun Kuti who have received a Grammy nomination in the Best World Music Album for his recent album 'African Giant'.

The Best World Music Album category recognizes performers outside the United States who showcase non-European, indigenous influences in their body of work. The award was first handed out in 1992 to Mickey Hart.

Burna Boy's nomination may give credence to his self-acclaimed title 'African Giant' if he eventually wins the Grammy. In 2018, expectations were high when Seun, the son of Afrobeat legend Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, fetched his first Grammy nomination that he may finally bring the gold-plated gramophone trophy home. His nomination came on the heels of his older brother Femi who had been nominated four times in the category. It also marked the first time two brothers have been nominated in the same Grammy category.

For the 62nd edition of the annual award that is traditionally held in California, Burna is up against Turkish psychedelic folk band, Altin Gun for their 2019 effort, 'Gece'. Teh 2018 orchestra centric album, 'What Heat' by Bokante & Metropole Orkest also poses a fierce contender in the category. The Nigerian born star also shares the honor of nomination with composer and flutist Nathalie Joachim on her collaborative album - 'Fanm D'Ayiti' - with the Spectral Quartet.

The only other African to grab a nomination and isn't new to the category is Angelique Kidjo. Kidjo who received the award for the first time in 2015 for 'Eve' (not to be confused with the best contemporary world music album) entered the race with 'Celia'.

Brazilians have dominated the category since its inception with few African artistes like Kidjo and South African, Ladysmith Black Mambazo emerging winners. The first Nigerian to have shared in the honour in this category was the late veteran drummer and recording artist Babatunde Olatunji. He was part of Mickey Hart's Planet Drum projects, including the album 'Planet Drum', which won the Grammy Award for Best World Music Album of 1991, the first year for which the award was given.

A Grammy win for Burna will cement his dominance in the music industry. Last year has seen him carting away major trophies including Best International Act awards at the BET Awards and Best African Act at the MTV EMA Awards. Will he finally break the Grammy jinx and make Africa proud?

Though the Recording Academy is currently embroiled in a leadership tussle, it is expected that when the 62nd Grammy awards that will be hosted by singer Alicia Keys for the second time take place on Sunday, January 26, that Burna will be among the winners of the night.

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