African music will receive recognition at Sunday’s prestigious Grammys in its category, as it has become “part of pop music,” the man behind the awards told the BBC.
Harvey Mason Jr. said he is “excited” at the inclusion of the Best African Music Performance category.
Tyla, Ayra Starr, Burna Boy, and Davido are among the nominated artists.
While their work is celebrated, some critics say an award for African music should have been included long ago.
Ian Brennan, a Grammy award-winning record producer who has worked with several African artists, told the BBC that while all this was “progress,” it was “long overdue.”.
African artists have won Grammys in the past. South African Miriam Makeba was the first in 1966 when she picked up the prize for Best Folk Recording for her collaboration with Harry Belafonte. There have been several others, including Nigerian Burna Boy, who won in 2021 for Best Global Music Album.
“There are no African artists in the Lifetime Achievement Award area of the Grammys,” he said.
The decision to include an Africa-specific award came about because music from the continent is now “prevalent everywhere in the world,” Mr. Mason Jr., who is CEO of the Recording Academy, told the BBC’s Newsday programme.
He became the first black person to be in charge of the Grammy Awards in 2021 and has been working to represent the breadth of popular music better.
He admitted that the Grammys, considered to be among the most prestigious music awards, typically honour American music. But he added that the awards are “fluid, adjusting, and pivoting,” and they are trying to include music outside of the West.
This year’s Grammys ceremony in Los Angeles will also feature a performance from Burna Boy, who will be the first Afrobeats performer ever to do so.