By Oral Ofori, Founder TheAfricanDream LLC
Los Angeles – The 58th annual Grammys provided the world with a good representation of Africa and African heritage, musicians, performers and artistes at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
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. Dawuni and his sixth studio album, “Branches of the Same Tree” became the first Ghanaian musician and album ever to be nominated for a Grammy. Dawuni was nominated alongside reggae greats Jah Cure for his album “The Cure;” Barrington Levy for “Acousticalevy;” Luciano for “Zion Awake;” and Morgan Heritage for “Strictly Roots.” The Best Reggae Album went to Heritage.
Like Dawuni, Heritage was also a first-time nominee.
Other individuals with African heritage that brightly shone at the Grammys included Canadian born Ethiopian musician, Abęl Makkonen Tesfaye, 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 part of the soundtrack for “Fifty Shades of Grey.”
Best World Album of the 58th Grammys went to Angélique Kidjo for her work “Sings,” making her a three-time Grammy winner. Originally from Benin in West Africa, Kidjo first won a Grammy in 2008.
South African gospel musician, Neville Diedericks, who earned a nomination for Best Gospel Performance/Song for his part in Israel and Newbreed’s “How Awesome Is Our God (Live),” won for winning Best Gospel Album for “Covered: Alive In Asia (Live)(Deluxe).”
Other South African nominees at the 58th Grammys were the male choral group Ladysmith Black Mambazo – four-time Grammy winners who rose to worldwide fame singing with Paul Simon in 1986 on his “Graceland” album – and Wouter Kellerman, a 2014 Grammy winning world music composer 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 for their work, “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.”