Burna Boy Grammy Award Loss – Nigeria Don’t Have Enough ‘Grammy’ Voting Members
It has been several nights since the 62nd annual Grammy Awards ceremony ended but so many Burna Boy aficionados have not been able to wake up from the disappointment of him losing the Best World Music Album category to Angelique Kidjo. With a feeling of heartbreak likened to those witnessed when the country national football team lost a world cup match, it’s a hard pill to swallow. Several celebrities in the country have voiced their displeasure, likewise, international icons like Naomi Campbell as well – she took to Instagram to berate the entire nomination process. But despite all of the concerns and mourning, the painful truth I just uncovered behind the voting process is indicative that folks from this country called Nigeria are at fault – we don’t have enough Nigerians among the ‘Voting Members’ of the Grammy Awards. I had a conversation with Bankulli who just had a one on one discussion with the person who oversees the Best World Music Album category.
Bankulli is a Nigerian music industry professional that worked with Beyonce on her ‘The Lion King’ Album – notable for being featured in the song titled ‘Otherside’. According to him, ‘I met with Marlon Fuentes – World Music Manager at Grammy Awards, he oversees the Best World Music Album category. With the cloud of suspicion hanging on Angelique Kidjo’s Grammy win which left Burna on the losing end, making him the 3rd Nigerian losing that category – the seventh time we are on the losing end. So I asked Marlon to help me make sense of the whole voting process. He enlightens me. Although it was an uncomfortable truth, it was a needed one. Let me paraphrase what he said. He concluded on the fact that the country Nigeria doesn’t have enough voting members among the Recording Academy members – to make matter worse, only a few of those that are available are active members who attend to voting requirements leading to nominating who eventually win. It’s paramount to have more Nigerians among the voting members to help garner enough votes to push Afrobeats artists to a winning position. If we continue to have fewer Nigerians as voting members, the more there’s a possibility that any Afrobeats nominee from this generation will not stand a chance to win the Grammys’ – he concluded.
The reason started above gives a better perspective as to why most of the artists nominated from Nigeria, the likes of the King Sunny Ade, Femi Kuti, Seun Kuti, and Burna Boy are yet to win the Grammy awards. We don’t have the required voting numbers to carry the artist through a winning streak. All the Francophone musicians ever nominated had the required members in the voting class that has voted them through. From a Nigerian perspective, it’s about time we have more representatives on the voting Class of the Grammy Awards – every songwriter, producer, engineer, instrumentalist, and other creators currently working in the recording industry can become one. How do you become a voting member? Get two strong recommendations from music industry peers. If your work is among the listed above, all you need is to be diligent at it and get your brand noticed along the corridors of the international music industry. Someone will notice and recommend you. It’s about time the likes of Bankulli and others become a member. This pathway arguably leads Afrobeats artists to win the Grammy Awards.
To round off, about the Best World Music Album category, did we all know that the likes of Davido and Wizkid among other composers that meet the Grammy standards were all eligible for nomination at the same time Burna got his? I guess most did not know. Thankfully the likes of Yemi Alade knew, she put in her album for it. Each year, they are twenty thousand entries available for the Grammys categories; your favorite artists can be one of them. Artists should go get the right management that can help them look out if their works fit the bill for the Grammy Awards. The more we can apply all that was said above, the better we stand the chance to win the Grammy Awards someday.
Words by Sesan Adeniji ( Instagram & Twitter – @sesanadeniji )