The 58th Grammies provided the world with a good representation of Africa and African heritage musicians, performers and artistes at the Staples Center in Los Angeles USA on February 15, 2016.
There were many first time African nominees, one was Rocky Dawuni; Ghanaian singer and songwriter who performs in his signature ‘Afro Roots’ sound which is a mixture of Reggae, Afrobeat, Highlife and soul music. Rocky and his sixth studio album titled ‘Branches of The Same Tree’ released March 2015 both became the first Ghanaian musician and album ever to be nominated for a Grammy award.
Rocky was nominated alongside reggae greats like Jah Cure for his album ‘The Cure’, Barrington Levy for ‘Acousticalevy’, Luciano for ‘Zion Awake’ and Morgan Heritage for ’Strictly Roots’ respectively. The Best Reggae Album went to Morgan Heritage at the 2016 Grammy awards. Like Rocky Dawuni, Morgan Heritage were also first-time nominees.
In an interview with TheAfricanDream.net, Rocky Dawuni congratulated Morgan Heritage for their win and went on to say: “For me it was really amazing to be nominated. I’ve always known that there is really no elevator to success and you have to always take the stairs. We keep rising on the stairs and now we have a nominated album so we put our gaze into the future. I am really glad to bring Ghana its first Grammy nomination”.
Other individuals with African heritage that brightly shone at the Grammys included Canadian born Ethiopian musician Abęl Makkonen Tesfaye of ‘The Weeknd’ who received seven nominations. ‘The Weeknd’ walked away with ‘Best Urban Contemporary Album’ for “Beauty Behind the Madness” and Best R&B Performance for “Earned It” which was a sound track of the 2015 American movie ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’.
Best World Album of the 58th Grammies went to Angélique Kidjo, for her work “Sings” making her a three-time Grammy winning artiste. Originally from Benin in West Africa, Angelique first won a Grammy in 2008 for her eight studio album titled ‘Djin Djin’, then again in 2014 at the 57th annual Grammy Awards for her album ‘Eve’ in the World Music category.
South African Gospel musician Neville Diedericks who earned a nomination for “Best Gospel Performance/Song” for his part in Israel & Newbreed’s “How Awesome Is Our God (Live)”, was excited for their winning ‘Best Gospel Album’ for their “Covered: Alive Is Asia [Live] (Deluxe)” work.
Other South African nominees at the 58th Grammies were the male choral group ‘Ladysmith Black Mambazo’, four time Grammy winners who rose to worldwide fame from singing with Paul Simon in 1986 on his Graceland album and Wouter Kellerman, a 2014 Grammy winning world music composer and instrumentalist whose 2015 album ‘Love Language’ debuted at number one on the World Music Billboard charts in July of that year.
Best Arrangement, Instrumental or A Cappella went to Nigerian-American Kevin ‘K.O.’ Olusola and fellow members of the widely acclaimed vocal band Pentatonix — Avi Kaplin, Kirstin Taylor — for their work “Dance Of The Sugar Plum Fairy”.
In 2014 Pentatonix earned its first Grammy nomination in Best Arrangement, Instrumental or A Cappella for its smash hit medley, ‘Daft Punk’. The group has had more than 1 billion views on their YouTube channel. Kevin is the son of Oluwole Olusola, a Nigerian-born psychiatrist who attended medical school in Nigeria.
Grammy history: Michael Jackson is known in the history of the Grammys to have won the most awards by a male artist in one night. In 1984, the ‘King of Pop’ went home with eight respective awards. Hungarian-British conductor, Sir Georg Solti is however on record for winning the most Grammies ever — a total of 31 in his 22 year career as conductor of Chicago Symphony Orchestra.