At the end of the 63rd Recording Academy/Grammy Awards ceremony held in Los Angeles Convention Center, Nigerian artists; Burna Boy won the Best Global Music Album category for his Twice As Tall album while Wizkid won the Best Music Video for his song with Beyonce, Brown Skin Girl, from Lion King: the Gift album.
Burna Boy was nominated alongside Malian Tuareg Desert Rock group Tinariwen, NYC afrobeat band Antibalas, Brazilian-American Bebel Gilberto, and British-Indian sitar player Anoushka Shankar.
The March 14 Grammy Awards, which was held virtually due to COVID-19, became a memorable event for Nigerians who have longed for their favorite artists to win.
The event, which was hosted by South African born Trevor Noah, saw performers separated into five stages to maintain social distancing in accord with COVID-19 safety protocol.
Burna Boy, whose real name is Damini Ogulu was nominated for the first time in 2020 with his album, African Giant, but lost to his fellow African singer, four-time winner, Angelique Kidjo of Benin Republic.
Kidjo dedicated her Grammy to Burna Boy, saying he is among African artists changing the way the continent is perceived.
The Twice AS Tall album scaled the hurdles that limited African Giant, gaining the praise of the Recording Academy who described it as a “masterclass” which has made Burna Boy an international musical force.
“He [Burna Boy] continues to torch limitations, seamlessly blending styles and genres and fearlessly fuelling the fire heating the melting pot of pop, Afrobeat, dancehall, reggae and more,” it said.
The Brown Skin Girl video, which got Wizkid, whose real name is Ayodeji Balogun, his first Grammy award was described by the Recording Academy as “a feast for the fashion-forward and a celebration of Black and brown female beauty everywhere.”
It has been a grass-to-grace journey for both Burna Boy and Wizkid, who have also made their mark in activism.
The 29-year old Port Harcourt-born Burna Boy started in 2011 with his Burn Notice series and came to the limelight in 2012 with the song; Like To Party and Onyeka. In 2013, he added another enticer to his record; Leaving an Impact For Eternity (L.I.F.E) and in 2015, On A Spaceship. All unprecedentedly grew his fanbase and brought him international attention.
In 2017, Burna Boy signed a distribution deal with Warner Music, giving the company rights to distribute his music internationally. The next year, he dropped a banger, an album called Outside, and it changed everything.
American rapper Kanye West had just released a song titled Ye, and there was a rush to stream it. Burna Boy’s Outside album has also a track called Ye, so there was coincidence of fortune as streamers stumbled on Burna Boy’s Ye, shooting it up to record numbers. The Outside album peaked at number three on the Billboard Reggae album chart. Ye exposed him to awards, including Soundcity MVP Awards for Song of the Year and Listener’s Choice and the 2019 Headies award for Song of the Year.
Although he admitted being hurt for not winning the Grammy last year, Burna Boy picked himself up and walked harder for the next edition of the Grammys.
“I know say one day e go better I go carry Grammy, because anything wey better require planning,” he sang after losing to Angelique Kidjo in 2020.
A year after, Burna boy was giving acceptance speech after winning the prestigious award.
“This is a big win for my generation of Africans all over the world. This should also be a lesson to every African out there that no matter where you are, no what you will like to do, you can achieve it,” he said.