10 Nigerian Artists That Have Been Nominated For Grammy Awards
Over The Years, Nigerian acts have been doing the continent proud at international awards, most especially the coveted Grammy Awards, sharing the African sound with the world and expanding the reach of afrobeat. This piece recognizes some of them and appreciates their efforts.
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Burna Boy is the stage name of Damini Ebunoluwa Ogulu M.F.R. He is a singer, songwriter, and record producer. He was born on July 2, 1991. After releasing “Like to Party,” the main song off his debut studio album, ‘L.I.F.E.,’ in 2012, he became famous in 2013. 2017 saw Burna Boy sign with Warner Music Group internationally and Bad Habit/Atlantic Records in the U.S. ‘Outside,’ released in 2018, his third studio album, marked his major-label debut.
He was named an Apple Music Up Next artist in 2019 and won Best International Act at the B.E.T. Awards that Year. African Giant, his fourth studio album, was released in July 2019 and was nominated for Best World Music Album at the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards as well as winning Album the Year at the 2019 All Africa Music Awards.
At the 2020 V.G.M.A.s, he received the African Artist of the Year award. Burna Boy became the first Nigerian musician to receive back-to-back Grammy nominations when his fifth studio album, ‘Twice as Tall,’ was released in August 2020. ‘Twice as Tall’ was nominated for the same category at the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards. At the B.E.T. Awards, he was named best foreign act. ‘Twice as Tall’ received the Best World Music Album Grammy Award at the 63rd Grammy Awards in 2021. At the 2021 B.E.T. Awards, he was named best international act.
Burna Boy’s sixth studio album, ‘Love, Damini,’ was released in July 2022. It also set a record for the highest debut of an African album on the Billboard 200 chart and charts in the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and France. Burna Boy was honored for his musical accomplishments in October 2022 with the title Member of the Order of the Federal Republic. In addition, on its list of the 200 Greatest Singers of All Time released in 2023, Rolling Stone placed him at position 197.
Seun Kuti, Fela Kuti’s youngest child, was born in 1983. At the age of five, he developed a passion for music, and by the time he was nine years old, he had begun performing with his father’s band, Egypt 80.
After Fela Kuti’s passing in 1997, Seun Kuti assumed leadership of Egypt 80. The group issued an album titled ‘Many Things’ in 2008. Sean Kuti & Egypt 80’s debut album was made available under the group name.
On their 2010 album ‘Entren los que quieran,’ Calle 13’s song “Todo se mueve” (Everything Moves) featured him. Seun Kuti received an honorable invitation to the Industry Nite in 2014 when he made his debut live performance. On Jidenna’s second album, ’85 to Africa,’ released in 2019, Kuti was a featured guest.
In June, Kuti was interviewed about pan-Africanism, his own country, and music for the Polaris series in the Visual Collaborative’s electronic catalog.
Seun Kuti’s ‘Black Times’ was nominated for a Grammy Award in the World Music category in 2018. He becomes the second of the late Fela Anikulapo Kuti’s children to be considered for this award, as his older brother Femi Kuti had previously been nominated in the same category but failed to receive a victory.
Femi Anikulapo Kuti was raised in the old capital of Nigeria, Lagos, and was born in London to Fela and Remilekun (Remi) Ransome-Kuti. Femi decided to live with his father after his mother left in 1977. At the age of 15, Femi began exploring the saxophone and eventually joined his father’s band.
Together with Dele Sosimi (Gbedu Resurrection), a former Fela Anikulapo Kuti keyboardist, he founded his band, Positive Force, in the late 1980s. When he accepted invitations to perform at the Festival d’Angoulême (France), the New Morning Club in Paris, and the Moers Festival in Germany in 1988, the French Cultural Centre in Lagos and Christian Mousset launched his worldwide career.
Four times—in 2003, 2010, 2012, and 2013—Femi was nominated for a Grammy in the world music category, but he never took home the award.
On September 26, 1995, Femi and Funke Kuti gave birth to Made Kuti. He was brought up in the New Afrika Shrine. He began playing the trumpet at age three and went on to learn how to play the alto, sax, piano, and drums throughout his childhood. He studied in London at Fela Kuti’s alma mater, Trinity Laban Conservatoire.
With his father’s band, Positive Force, Made Kuti began his musical career as a young child by playing bass and saxophone in the ensemble. At the age of 8, he began traveling with the group. In October 2020, he released his first tune, “Free Your Mind.”
His solo first album, ‘For(e)ward,’ and a double album with his father, Femi Kuti, titled ‘Legacy+,’ were released. Sodi Marciszewer, a former collaborator of Fela Kuti, produced the album, which was distributed by Partisan Records. He was nominated at the 2022 Grammys Best Global Music Awards for contributing alongside his father on the ‘Legacy+’ album.
Wizkid, whose real name is Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun and who was born on July 16, 1990, needs no introduction. One of the most outstanding and most widely recognized African performers of all time, Wizkid is a well-known personality in the contemporary Afrobeats music scene. The Glorious Five (5), a group he and a few of his church buddies founded, recorded a joint CD with him when he was 11. He started recording music at that age. In 2009, Banky W’s Empire Mates Entertainment and Wizkid agreed to a record deal (E.M.E.). The lead song off his debut studio album, ‘Superstar (2011)’, which also produced the singles “Tease Me/Bad Guys” and “Don’t Dull,” “Holla at Your Boy,” brought him into the spotlight later.
As a result of Wizkid’s contributions to the Nigerian music scene, he has achieved several things, including his first-ever Grammy Award for Best Music Video for his starring role in Beyoncé’s “Brown Skin Girl.” At the B.E.T. Awards (3), Soul Train Awards (3), Billboard Awards (3), iHeartRadio Music Awards (2), and MOBO Awards(6), he has won the most awards of any African musician. For his songwriting contributions to Drake’s “One Dance,” he was awarded an ASCAP plaque. This song also has two Guinness World Records: it was the first to surpass one billion Spotify streams and the most streamed song at the time. 2019’s Top 100 Most Influential Africans list included Wizkid, according to the New African magazine.
He has received the most accolades in the history of The Headies awards. For ‘Made in Lagos’ Deluxe Edition and “Essence,” he received nominations for the 64th Annual Grammy Awards’ Best Global Music Album and Best Global Music Performance categories. In addition, he won Artist of the Year at the 2021 Apple Music Awards in November (Africa).
Olatunji collaborated in Mickey Hart’s ‘Planet Drum Projects,’ which included the same name album in 1991—the first year the Grammy Awards for Best World Music Album was given—won the award. In 2001, he was admitted to the Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame.
Olatunji composed the music for the 1961 Hollywood motion picture ‘Raisin in the Sun’ and the Broadway stage show. In addition, he helped Bill Lee with the theme for Spike Lee’s critically acclaimed movie ‘She’s Gotta Have It.’
Adepoju traveled to the United States in 1985 to play with O. J. Ekemode’s Nigerian All-Stars. Three months later, he met Babatunde Olatunji. He joined Olatunji’s Drums of Passion and was introduced to Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart. Since they first met, he has contributed to most of Mickey Hart’s projects, including the albums Mickey Hart’s ‘Mystery Box,’ ‘At the Edge,’ and ‘Supralingua,’ as well as the tours accompanying those albums. At the 51st annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, Sikiru Adepoju won the Best Contemporary World Music Album for his work on Mickey Hart’s ‘Global Drum Project’s’ title album. Sikiru, a musician who has contributed to the Mickey Hart Band’s CD ‘Mysterium Tremendum,’ also sang on the song “Who Stole the Show?”
Nigerian singer-songwriter Faridah Seriki, better known by her stage name Kah-Lo, is best known for her song “Fasta” and her collaboration with British DJ Riton on the theme “Rinse and Repeat.” The song was a nominee for the 59th Grammy Awards’ Best Dance Recording category.
King Sunny Ade
King Sunny Adé is a jùju singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist. Chief Sunday Adeniyi Adegeye MFR was born on September 22, 1946. He has been dubbed one of the most influential musicians of all time and is regarded as one of the first African pop musicians to achieve international recognition.
In 1967, Sunny Adé started his backup group, African Beats. Sunny Adé signed to Island Records in 1982 and went on to have international success with the albums ‘Juju Music’ (1982) and ‘Synchro System’ (1983), the latter of which earned him a Grammy nomination, a first for a Nigerian artist. Sunny Adé had previously found national success in Nigeria during the 1970s and founded his independent label. Additionally, his 1998 album ‘Odu’ received a Grammy nomination.
Temilade Openiyi, often known as Tems, is a Nigerian singer born on June 11, 1995. She gained notoriety when she appeared on Wizkid’s 2020 single “Essence,” which received a Grammy Award nomination and peaked at number ten on the Billboard Hot 100 after receiving a remix with Justin Bieber’s added participation. In addition, she appeared in Drake’s song “Fountains” that same year.
‘For Broken Ears,’ her debut EP, was publicly released on September 25, 2020. After signing with RCA Records, Tems released her second EP, ‘If Orange Was a Place’ (2021).
Tems was acknowledged as a featured artist with Drake on the song “Wait for U” in 2022 after Future sampled the vocals from her song “Higher” on his track. She became the first African artist to debut at number one and the second Nigerian artist to top the chart when it debuted at the top of the Billboard Hot 100. For the Black Panther: Wakanda Forever album, released in July 2022, Tems covered Bob Marley’s “No Woman, No Cry.” The same month, “Free Mind,” a song from Tems’s debut EP, had its Hot 100 debut.
Tems has won numerous honors over her career, including two NAACP Image Awards, two BET Awards, and two Soul Train Music Awards. Additionally, she co-wrote the Rihanna song “Lift Me,” which led to nominations for both the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song and the Academy Award for Best Original Song.