Grammy Includes Africa-Specific Category to Recognize African Music.


The Recording Academy, famous for its Grammy Awards announced on Tuesday the inclusion of new honors in the 2024 Grammy Awards including ‘Best African Music Performance’, ‘Best Pop Dance Recording’, and ‘Best Alternative Jazz Album’.

The Best African Music Performance category recognizes recordings that use “unique local expressions from across the African continent” including subgenres like Afrobeats, Afro-fusion, Afro-pop, Bongo Flava, Ethio jazz, Kizomba, High Life, Fuji, Ndombolo, Mapouka, Ghanaian drill, Afro-house, and South African hip-hop and will attract contestants from African countries only. 

The Grammy Awards said the new Africa-specific category will highlight “regional melodic, harmonic and rhythmic musical traditions”.

The changes were voted on and passed at the academy’s Board of Trustees meeting last month. The 66th Grammys, which now has 94 categories, will air live in early 2024. The changes follow several years of Grammy category reworks. The academy attempts to quell criticism that its award picks are not inclusive and don’t reflect evolutions in the music industry.

The addition of the best African music performance category reflects how African acts such as Burna Boy, Wizkid, and Tems — along with the rise of the Afrobeats genre — have become global chart-topping stars and streaming juggernauts.

Best pop dance recording will honor songs that “feature up-tempo, danceable music that follows a pop arrangement” and has “strong rhythmic beats, significant electronic-based instruments with an emphasis on the vocal performance, melody, and hooks.” 

The new best alternative jazz album award will recognize “the genre-blending, envelope-pushing hybrid that mixes jazz with other genres, including R&B, hip-hop, classical, contemporary improvisation, experimental, pop, rap, electronic/dance music and/or spoken word.”

Other changes to the Grammys include moving two categories — producer of the year (non-classical) and songwriter of the year (non-classical) — to the general field, which includes album, song, and record of the year, along with the best new artist. Grammys voters are limited in the categories they can vote for, but all voters are allowed to vote in the general field, which means everyone will now be able to vote for producer of the year (non-classical) and songwriter of the year (non-classical).

The creation of the new category appears to be an effort to more fully recognize the influence of music from the African continent on global trends. “These changes reflect our commitment to actively listen and respond to the feedback from our music community, accurately represent a diverse range of relevant musical genres, and stay aligned with the ever-evolving musical landscape,” said Harvey Mason Jr, head of the Recording Academy, in a statement.

Songs and albums released between Oct. 1, 2022 – Sept. 15, 2023, will be eligible for nominations at the 2024 show and nominees will be announced in November.

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