The 63rd Annual Grammys, which took place in Los Angeles, California, on 14 March was one to remember for Africa as the Nigerian music sensation Burna Boy bagged a Grammy, the first for a Nigerian as a solo artist.
Burna Boy whose real name is Damini Ebunoluwa Ogulu, a two-time Grammy nominee, won the award for Best Global Music Album for his 2020 album Twice as Tall.
Another Nigerian, Wizkid, also known as Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun, the American entertainment star Beyoncé and her nine-year-old daughter Blue Ivy Carter jointly won the award for Best Music Video for the song Brown Skin Girl— a collaborative track involving all three.
Accepting the award virtually from Lagos, Nigeria, and surrounded by his family and fans, a visibly excited Burna Boy said, “Yes oh! Yes oh! Yes oh! Africa is in the house man; Africa, we’re in the house, you get me?
“This is a big win for my generation of Africans all over the world, and this should be a lesson to every African out there: no matter where you are, no matter what you plan to do, you can achieve it, no matter where you’re from, because you are a king.
“Look at me now, Grammy Award-winning Burna Boy. Thank you to everyone...” he concluded.
Music experts described Burna Boy’s performance to close out the Premiere Ceremony, featuring two Twice as Talltracks, as outstanding.
The Grammys Awards are presented by the music industry’s own Recording Academy to recognize the achievements of their peers. They were first introduced in 1959 and are considered one of the highest accolades attainable in the global music industry.
Previously Grammy-nominated Nigerian musicians include the legend King Sunny Adé (real name Sunday Adeniyi Adegeye) for his 1984 album Synchro System, the first album from Nigeria to be nominated for the category Best Ethnic or Traditional Folk Recording.
Mr. Adé’s nomination was followed by those of Babatunde Olatunji, Femi Kuti, Sikiru Adepoju, Wizkid, Kah-Lo, Seun Kuti, Burna Boy and Tiwa Savage.
But the first Nigerian to win a Grammy award was Babatunde Olatunji (real name Michael Babatunde Olatunji) for his contribution to the 1991 Planet Drum album by Mickey Hart, an American percussionist and musicologist.
Burna Boy’s Twice as Tall album is a fusion of afrobeat, reggae and pop. Some point to the fateful coincidence of him being born in 1991, the same year a Nigerian, Mr. Olatunji, won a Grammy for the first time.
Many draw a connection between Burna Boy’s music and that of the Afrobeat legend Fela Anikulapo Kuti. Burna Boy’s grandfather, Benson Idonije, a veteran broadcaster, was Mr. Kuti’s first manager.
Sometimes called the African Giant, Burna Boy first rose to fame in 2012 with the release of Like to Party, a single from his debut album L.I.F.E.
In 2017 he signed with the Atlantic Records-United States and Warner Music Group international. In 2018 he released his third studio and first major-label album, an afro-pop titled Outside.
Outside was BET’s Best International Act-winning album featuring the famous single Ye, which won two Song of the year awards in 2019: at Soundcity MVP Awards Festival and at The Headies.
African Giant, Burna Boy’s fourth studio album, was released in 2019. It won the Album of the Year at the All-Africa Music Awards in 2019 and the BET award for Best International Act in 2020.
African Giant also brought Burna Boy his first Best World Music Album Grammy nomination at the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards in 2020. That year the Beninese-American singer and songwriter Angélique Kidjo won the award for her work Celia.
In her acceptance speech that year, Ms. Kidjo predicted that a new generation of African artists, particularly Burna Boy, was destined for global stardom.
One year later, Burna Boy won the same award, confirming Ms. Kidjo’s prediction.