Afrobeats: The New Grammys Category

Afrobeats: The New Grammys Category

The Grammys are considering adding an Afrobeats category to the nomination mix. That, of course, would be welcome news in a year when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences gave Grammy voters their first major award with the all-black Best Original Song category in 2004.

Afrobeats have historically had a good run at the Grammys, having won the main two categories since 2000: Best Song Written for Visual Media in 2002, and Best Music Film or Television in 2017. But this year, with all the major awards going to an all-white field, it was Afrobeats who grabbed the most of the attention (11 awards out of 12 nominations).

But Afrobeats has a history of being snubbed by the Academy. In 1996, the category was given to a R&B/soul-infused album, while an all-black category was also rejected that year. In 2005, the best album Afro category was expanded to two tracks, after Best R&B Song and Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal was combined. An Afrobeat was nominated again in 2007, but was stripped off after the producers of “In Case We Die” decided it was too aggressive.

But just the year before, the category — while not as diverse as it is now — was deemed by the Academy itself to be under-representative. In 2002, when the category was first established, just one woman was nominated, followed by the first all-woman nominees, “For Once in My Life,” by Barbra Streisand and Billy Joel.

The new category, and its potential importance in the awards race, is being discussed at an internal meetings now underway that are supposed to be the first step in overhauling the Grammy selection process for the next 30 years.

For the moment, there have been no specifics made available about which artists, groups and albums will be considered for the new category. But several have been mentioned as possible nominees.

Grammy president Neil Portnow has

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