South African singer Tyla Laura Seethal won the inaugural Best African Music Performance category for her hit song “Water” in a historic moment at the 66th Grammy Awards.
The category, introduced for the first time this year, showcased a diverse range of African talent mostly dominated by Nigerian nominees.
The Grammy category for African music ignores almost all of Africa and only picked artists from two countries: Nigeria (Burna Boy, Davido, Ayra Starr, and Asake & Olamide) and South Africa (Tyla and producer Musa Keys, featured on Davido’s track). Although it claimed the category was intended to incorporate a variety of African music genres in the “Best African Music Performance” category.
The CEO of the Grammys, Harvey Mason Jr., said it’s created to recognize a wider range of artists than the existing global Grammy categories.
However, the actual nominations only feature the two most popular African pop styles – Afrobeats and Amapiano. One of the nominated tracks is even named “Amapiano,” a South African music style coming from house music.
The new category was part of three additions at the 2024 Grammys, alongside Best Alternative Jazz Album and Best Pop Dance Recording.
Expressing disbelief on stage, Tyla exclaimed,
“What the heck?! This is crazy, I never thought I’d say I won a GRAMMY at 22 years old.”
“I know my mother’s crying somewhere in here.”
While Tyla celebrated her triumph, Nigerian artist Burna Boy, despite losing in all four of his nominations, made history at the 66th Grammys.
He became the first Nigerian and Afrobeats artist to perform live at the award mainstage.
Academy President Harvey Mason Jr. highlighted the significance of the Best African Music Performance category, emphasizing its creation to honor and recognize outstanding musical contributions from the African continent.