meta-scriptWatch Jonas Brothers, Brad Paisley, Billy Porter, Shaggy & More Discuss The Legacy And Impact Of Paul Simon Backstage At "Homeward Bound: A GRAMMY Salute To Paul Simon" | GRAMMY.com
Paul Simon Homeward Bound GRAMMY Salute
Paul Simon performing at "Homeward Bound: A GRAMMY Salute To Paul Simon"

Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

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Watch Jonas Brothers, Brad Paisley, Billy Porter, Shaggy & More Discuss The Legacy And Impact Of Paul Simon Backstage At "Homeward Bound: A GRAMMY Salute To Paul Simon"

Performers at the star-studded tribute from the Jonas Brothers to Brad Paisley to Angélique Kidjo explain why Simon deserves the highest praise in the echelon of American singer/songwriters.

GRAMMYs/Dec 20, 2022 - 05:53 pm

Updated Monday, May 22, to include information about the re-air date for "Homeward Bound: A GRAMMY Salute To The Songs Of Paul Simon."

"Homeward Bound: A GRAMMY Salute To The Songs Of Paul Simon" will re-air on Wednesday, May 31, at 9 p.m. ET/PT on the CBS Television Network, and will be available to stream on demand on Paramount+.

Paul Simon may have won 16 GRAMMYs throughout his illustrious career, but he's getting another honor from the Recording Academy — something much bigger than a golden gramophone.

On May 22 "Homeward Bound: A GRAMMY Salute To The Songs Of Paul Simon," a two-hour special illuminating the 16-time GRAMMY winner's songbook, will re-air on Wednesday, May 31, at 9 p.m. ET/PT on the CBS Television Network, and will be available to stream live and on demand on Paramount+.

The concert features Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood, Eric Church, Rhiannon Giddens, Susanna Hoffs, Jonas Brothers, Angélique Kidjo, Ledisi, Little Big Town, Dave Matthews, Brad Paisley, Billy Porter, Sting, Take 6, Irma Thomas, Shaggy and Jimmy Cliff, Trombone Shorty and Stevie Wonder.

Additionally, Sofia Carson, Herbie Hancock, Woody Harrelson, Dustin Hoffman, Elton John, Folake Olowofoyeku, and Oprah Winfrey also make special appearances.

Below, watch exclusive clips where many of these artists express what Simon, a leading light of singing and songwriting, means to them.

The Jonas Brothers

Brad Paisley

Billy Porter

Shaggy

Trombone Shorty

Angélique Kidjo

Ledisi

Folake Olowofoyeku

GRAMMY U NYC Conference flier

Photo: GRAMMY U

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What To Expect At The 2024 GRAMMY U Conference In NYC

On April 20, music’s next generation will be in New York City for the 2024 GRAMMY U Conference, presented by Amazon Music. Read on for everything you need to know about the day of career-driven discussions with Broadway icons and pop stars.

GRAMMYs/Apr 12, 2024 - 03:56 pm

Shaneel Young contributed to this article

It’s been an unparalleled year of programming for GRAMMY U. 

Lainey Wilson and Greta Van Fleet connected with crowds at the 2023 Fall Summit in Nashville; Halle Bailey and Muni Long shared wisdom with the world during GRAMMY Week in Los Angeles at the GRAMMY U Masterclass. Now, music’s next generation of creative professionals will head to New York City for the 2024 GRAMMY U Conference presented by Amazon Music.  

This year it's all about show biz, and music has a hand in every part of the entertainment industry. Featuring a star-studded lineup of guests, the GRAMMY U Conference will dive deep into how your favorite musical performances on television are created, and offer insight into music careers on Broadway. 

GRAMMY U members will be able to learn all about the live performance industry through educational panels, a speed networking session, and even a performance workshop. You won’t want to miss what the big names have to say: GRAMMY, Tony, and Emmy Award winners Ben Platt will be the conference's keynote speaker, and Billy Porter (also a GRAMMY, Emmy, and Tony Award winner)O will work up close and personal with young talent, and Remi Wolf is going to talk about the music of late night shows. 

The action begins Friday, April 19 at the Chelsea Music Hall. Members from all over the country will gather for the GRAMMY U Showcase, where five GRAMMY U contest winners will perform original music. Catch a set by Jawan and stay for Infinity Song’s closing set.

Below, GRAMMY.com has gathered all of the information you need to get excited for the massive event.

GRAMMY U Welcomes Amazon Music

GRAMMY U has officially welcomed Amazon Music as a cornerstone partner. To kick off what will be an instrumental relationship, Amazon Music is proudly bringing their knowledge to the table as a presenter of the 2024 GRAMMY U Conference. Mastercard will also be returning as a participating sponsor for the event. GRAMMY U will kick off the conference with remarks from Ruby Marchand, Chief Awards and Industry Officer, Recording Academy;, Amazon Music's Global Head of Artist & Label Relations Andre Stapleton, and GRAMMY U Sr. Director Jessie Allen.

Hang With Ben Platt, The Star Of The Show

Starting the Saturday strong, Ben Platt will sit down with Beanie Feldstein to talk all about his storied career as an actor and singer ahead of his 18-date run at the Palace Theater in NYC, kicking off May 28th before his album release.

Growing up on the stage, Platt quickly became a leading force on Broadway, and has since shared his talents with the screen, starring in multiple films and TV series. Platt is also releasing music — his third album, Honeymind, drops May 31, beginning with an 18 date residency at the Palace Theatre in NYC followed by his national tour with special guest Brandy Clark this summer — and will discuss the significance of music within his various projects.

As the GRAMMY U Conference keynote speaker, Platt will share insights from the recording studio.

Share The Stage With Billy Porter

During a workshop, Billy Porter will share his best performance practices and advice for GRAMMY U members trying to make it big. Porter is no stranger to putting on a show, with over 30 years in the industry and numerous awards under his belt — and GRAMMY U is eager to learn and take guidance as they begin their music careers. Roy Gantz, GRAMMY U's National Membership Representative, will then take the stage and receive live performance coaching directly from Porter.

Making Music On Late Night TV With Remi Wolf & More

In a discussion moderated by talent booking pro Siobhan Schanda, members of "Late Night with Seth Meyers" will discuss bringing music to late-night television. The discussion will feature "Late Night" Associate Producer Yeji Cha-Beach and Marnie Stern, former guitarist for "Late Night" house band, the 8G Band and recording artist.

Singer/songwriter Remi Wolf, who performed recently on "The Late Show With Stephen Colbert," will also join the discussion. In anticipation of supporting Olivia Rodrigo’s GUTS World Tour and her upcoming sophomore album Big Ideas, Remi will discuss how a special performance like hers comes to life onscreen.

Learn What Happens Behind The Curtains

Have you ever wondered what happens behind the Broadway stage? This dynamic panel will highlight the brilliant minds that work to make the big show happen. Moderated by Michael Kushner, Founder and Creator of Michael Kushner Photography, hear from Broadway producers, directors, record label executives and more on how they put together a Broadway production behind the scenes. 

Panelists include renowned Broadway producer Christen James, Adam Hess of DR Theatrical Management, Pete Ganbarg, the President of A&R at Atlantic Records, and Erich Bergen, producer, actor and director at 6W Entertainment. From set design to marketing, this panel will reveal that whether on stage or behind the scenes, there's a place for every passion in the world of theater. 

Hear How Professionals Produce The Sounds Of Drama

In this panel, Broadway professionals will dive into the inner workings of theatrical sound in live theater, and how their expertise in Broadway audio production translates into other facets of the music industry. 

Experts Tom Winkler, Kurt Deustch, David Lai, and Kathy Sommer will detail the dynamic challenges that producers and composers must navigate to make productions possible. 

Learn How To Build Your Brand In The Career Center

At the start of the conference, attendees can learn from the experts and level up their profiles at the GRAMMY U Career Center. Learn how to present your best professional self, take a professional headshot, get a review of your resume from real recruiters in the industry, and network with professionals from Amazon Music, the Recording Academy and more. Networking mentors include AC Gottlieb, Asmita Khullar, Billy Seidman, Haley Bennett, Jameka Pankey, Jessica Fusco, John Ochoa, Leah Dowdy, Madeline Nelson, Nick Cucci, Nikisha Bailey, and Sarah Crane. So get there early and make the most out of your professional development at the GRAMMY U Conference!

Don’t forget to stop by the GRAMMY U Mixtape Listening station, too, and see the process behind how we select music for the GRAMMY U Mixtape every month.

Reserve Your Seat

Mark your calendars now, the 2024 GRAMMY U Conference will take place in New York City on Friday, April 19, and Saturday, April 20, and with more announcements to come, this is an event you surely won’t want to miss. Reserve your spot now with a RSVP.

For members who aren’t able to attend, the GRAMMY U Conference will be livestreamed on the Recording Academy’s YouTube and Twitch channels at 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. ET.

GRAMMY U Reps Experience GRAMMY Week Like Never Before Thanks To The Recording Academy & United Airlines

Students participate in Getting Funky In Havana
Cuban music conservatory students perform during Getting Funky In Havana 2024

Photo: Eduardo Reyes Aranzaez

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At Getting Funky In Havana, Young Musicians Feel The Power Of Cross-Cultural Connection

An annual program organized by the Trombone Shorty Foundation and Cimafunk, Getting Funky In Havana explores the deep connections between Cuba and New Orleans — and provides student musicians with once-in-a-life-time learning opportunities.

GRAMMYs/Mar 25, 2024 - 08:34 pm

It’s sweltering inside the Guillermo Tomas Music Conservatory, a primary school in Havana’s Guanabacoa neighborhood, where American visitors enjoy what will likely be the best school recital they'll ever see.  

A series of teen and tween musicians — some in trios and quartets, others in larger ensembles — are playing a mix of Latin jazz, orchestral overtures and even a rousing rendition of the Ghostbusters theme. During an interpolation of Aretha Franklin's "Think," three young horn players burst to the front of the group in a competitive but friendly battle of brass. 

The performance is the centerpiece of Getting Funky in Havana, a four-day music and cultural exchange program developed by GRAMMY-nominated Cuban funk artist Cimafunk, GRAMMY-winning New Orleans multi-instrumentalist Trombone Shorty's namesake foundation, and Cuba Educational Travel. Now in its third year, Getting Funky brought nearly 200 American music lovers, artists and students to Havana in January to explore the deep connections between Cuban and New Orlenian sounds through a series of performances, educational activities and panels. 

"Cuba and New Orleans have a long line of influence, and we have special things that happen in both places that people can hear through our music," Trombone Shorty, born Troy Andrews, tells GRAMMY.com. "Passing along music and knowledge is…how the music's staying alive. I always try to tell the kids, learn everything that came before you, but also be very innovative."

While there are many conservatories in Havana, Guillermo Tomas was chosen in part for its similarities to New Orleans' Treme neighborhood, where many of the Trombone Shorty Foundation students live. Guanabacoa is "probably the deepest Afro-Cuban cultural neighborhood" in Havana, says Foundation Executive Director Bill Taylor.

Those shared roots and experiences were on display during several capstone concerts, which were also open to Havana residents. At a massive outdoor concert blocks away from Havana's famous Malecón, Getting Funky attendees enjoyed performances from Cuban salsa legends Los Van Van, reparto star Wampi and Shorty's Orleans Avenue. At a pinnacle performance the day before, more than 30 artists gathered at Havana arts hub La Fabrica for a sold-out international jam. Shorty, Big Freedia, Ivan Neville, percussionist Pedrito Martinez, PJ Morton, Tarriona "Tank" Ball, drummer Yissy Garcia and others joined forces with Cuban artists Reina y Real and X Alfonzo to create an unceasing groove. 

Getting Funky In Havana outside school embed

Cuban and American students perform outside Guillermo Tomas┃Eduardo Reyes Aranzaez

While the concerts certainly brought the energy to a fever pitch, the beating heart of Getting Funky is its mission of music education. Ten members of the Trombone Shorty Foundation's brass band traveled to Cuba, where they performed at Getting Funky's opening night party and several other events. Throughout the week, the New Orleans students shared stages with their Cuban counterparts,  learning each others' musical idioms and finding common ground.

"So much of the music [we hear in New Orleans comes] from Africa through the Caribbean to New Orleans, then spreading throughout the United States. When our students connect with those [Cuban] students, there's a natural, symbiotic connection that takes place," Taylor says. 

High school senior and sax player Dylan Racine called the trip — his first time out of the country — a life-changing experience. "I learned so many new skills on this trip, including how to network, how to collaborate with young people from a different culture than me, and more," he says via email. Drummer and pianist John Rhodes, another senior,  added that the experience was invaluable. 

"I was able to interact with another culture and understand other young people through music. Although we couldn't speak the same language, we understood each other musically," he writes.

Both Cuba and New Orleans' unique musical cultures require constant innovation to survive, Taylor adds. "You honor the past, but it needs an infusion of new life in order to thrive. Getting Cuban musicians together with New Orleans musicians infuses a shot of energy into both of those musical styles." 

The trip also put students from both countries in contact with working musicians, whose own perspectives were expanded by the experience. 

"Music education and pedagogical expertise is so important. We need the next level to come up and be dope, just like we are," says trumpeter Keyon Harrold, whose work has taken him from sessions with Beyoncé to the 2024 GRAMMYs. This was Harrold’s second year at Getting Funky. "It's even more visceral and engaging to actually see these kids at the age of 10, 11, 12, and to know that in five years they're going to be the next." 

For many of the musicians who attended, Getting Funky was an inspirational experience that furthered their existing work as well. "I perform for a living, but performing and playing with [students] is super dope. [Their energy is] clean," says GRAMMY-winning producer, rapper and mentor Deezle. "If I can in any way help to guide their path away from the pitfalls that I've encountered and endured, I would love to do that."

Legendary singer/songwriter Ivan Neville said he was blown away while watching young musicians from different worlds performing together. "This music was making their souls feel so good. I know music is good for the soul, but it was another level that I saw."

Getting Funky In Havana Primera Linea

Fabio Daniel (center) and members of Primera Linea, or "first line"┃Eduardo Reyes Aranzaez

Since Getting Funky In Havana was established in 2020, the program has had a measurable impact on Cuban students' lives. In 2023, several young Cuban musicians traveled to New Orleans during JazzFest, where they visited Shorty’s studio and performed together at legendary venue Tipitina's. When the group returned home, they formed their own brass band, Primera Linea. 

"This band is working; they are playing many places in Havana and that's thanks to the project. They were so into the satisfaction of [feeling] that they are valued," says Erik Alejandro Iglesias Rodríguez, who records as Cimafunk. "They are learning good quality things in terms of human relationships and in terms of music. [The program is] something that changes their mentality and lets them know that they can make it." 

While Cuba harbors an incredible amount of musical talent, "making it" as a musician in the country comes with a unique set of challenges. The country's shrinking economy, high rate of inflation and low monthly incomes have 62 percent of Cubans reporting that they "struggle to survive" financially, according to a 2023 survey. Purchasing a professional calibur instrument, which may cost hundreds or thousands of U.S. dollars, often comes with great sacrifice.  

It's an emotional day back at the Guillermo Tomas, where 10 of the school's top students will be awarded an instrument.

"An instrument is not something you can buy in a store," says Amanda Colina González, an art historian and one of the trip guides, who studied saxophone in conservatory. Colina González, like the majority of students, was given an instrument to play for the duration of her studies but had to return it to her school upon graduation. Remembering that moment brought tears to her eyes.

Because of its high cost and the possibility of leading to international travel, owning their own instrument can truly change a young musician's life. Getting Funky has donated approximately 50 instruments to Cuban students over three years of programming. 

Fifteen-year-old Daniela Hernandez was awarded a trombone for her skill and dedication to music outside of school. Harried and teary-eyed after the recital, she shared her happiness and pride for being able to play with musicians who she's long admired. She plans to use her new trombone to study and will "take it with me everywhere."

Daniela and classmate Fabio Daniel (who received a trumpet during the first edition of Getting Funky in Havana in 2020) joined Trombone Shorty onstage at Getting Funky, performing for more than 15,000 people. Several of their friends and classmates brought their instruments to the concert — the largest held in Cuba in the last four years — and played back at the band from the crowd. 

"Cuban musicians really enjoy playing and making other people feel joy through music,” Daniela says. Fellow trombone player and awardee Cristian Onel León says it's important to play for people outside of Cuba, and enjoys teaching people about his country's rhythms and keys. "I’m [also] learning other forms of playing, that aren’t mine. And it feels good,” he adds.

The program's instrument donation is spearheaded by the long-running nonprofit Horns To Havana, and supported by the Gia Maione Prima Foundation and private donors. Tickets purchased to attend the program also fund its efforts; Taylor says 2024's Getting Funky raised approximately $50,000. The Trombone Shorty Foundation hopes to continue the annual event, and expand into different countries; a 2025 Havana trip is already in the works.

For Rodríguez, who recently moved to New Orleans, the effect of this musical exchange is tangible. He's noticed more musicians who are open to collaborating across borders, and is working on new music with artists who have attended Getting Funky in previous years.

"Just jamming changes everything," he says. "That changes the minds of people; that changes the sound."

The connections made during Getting Funky have led to a variety of opportunities for students on both sides of the Gulf of Mexico. Foundation alto saxophonist Jacob Jones credits the trip for broadening his way of thinking while playing music; Deezle says he wants to get Cuban trumpeter and bandleader Fabio Daniel on a track; Primera Linea may perform at San Francisco's Outside Lands festival in August. 

"To be able to facilitate that, and give to these young musicians of Cuba, is unbelievable," Andrews says of the program. "It's just a blessing to be able to be a blessing and help out the next generation, and help those musicians see a brighter future."

Venezuelan Immigrant Musicians In The U.S. Carry Sound, Sentiment & Love For The Country They Left Behind

Rhiannon Giddens
Rhiannon Giddens

Photo: Ebru Yildiz

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Who Is Rhiannon Giddens? 3 Things To Know About The Banjoist & Violist On Beyoncé’s "Texas Hold ‘Em"

Rhiannon Giddens has been esteemed in various folk circles for years — and her appearance on Beyoncé’s "TEXAS HOLD ‘EM" just broke her into the mainstream. Here are three things to know about the eclectic singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist.

GRAMMYs/Feb 13, 2024 - 06:40 pm

After the club-storming Renaissance, its Act II begins with an unexpected sound: a burble of banjo, later joined by flowing viola. Welcome to "TEXAS HOLD ‘EM," one of two advance singles from Beyoncé’s forthcoming album, along with "16 CARRIAGES."

Beyoncé’s recently announced Act II promises to be an immersion into country music — which is both a fresh aesthetic and one deeply rooted to her Texan upbringing. The 32-time GRAMMY Winner has spoken about the "overlooked history of the American Black cowboy" and nodded to the culture with a Western getup at the 2024 GRAMMYs.

All of this is a completely natural fit for Rhiannon Giddens, who played said fiddle and viola on "TEXAS HOLD ‘EM."

"The beginning is a solo riff on my minstrel banjo — and my only hope is that it might lead a few more intrepid folks into the exciting history of the banjo," Giddens explained on Instagram. "I used to say many times as soon as Beyoncé puts the banjo on a track my job is done.

"Well, I didn’t expect the banjo to be mine," she continued. "And I know darn well my job isn’t done, but today is a pretty good day."

The "job" defines Giddens. Sure, she may be completely new to certain contingents of the Beyhive, but the two-time GRAMMY winner and 10-time nominee’s been on the scene for almost two decades.

Since making her mark with the Carolina Chocolate Drops in the mid-aughts, Giddens has forged a singular legacy. She’s not only a purveyor of traditional musics, but as an investigator of the racial and cultural cross-currents that forged our modern-day understanding — and misunderstanding — of Americana.

At the 2024 GRAMMYs, Giddons was nominated for two golden gramophones — for Best Americana Album (You’re the One) and Best American Roots Performance ("You Louisiana Man"). You’re the One was her first album of all-original material; in that regard, these noms show that a new, exciting chapter for Giddens is just beginning.

Here are five things to know about the artist who just played "TEXAS HOLD ‘EM" with Queen Bee.

Her Interrogation Of Black Music History Is Indispensable

Giddens has worked in a diverse array of fields, including opera, documentary, ballet, podcasting, and more. Her mission? To explore "difficult and unknown chapters of American history" through musical lenses, like the evolution of the banjo from Africa to Appalachia.

"In order to understand the history of the banjo, and the history of bluegrass music, we need to move beyond the narrative we've inherited," she’s stated. Elsewhere, she noted, "People seem ready for a more in-depth idea of folk music, culture and history.

Which extends beyond merely other people’s stories — but to her own.

…And It Led Directly To You’re The One

Speaking to GRAMMY.com about her GRAMMY-nominated first album of original material, Giddens was quick to note that "autobiography" doesn’t hit the mark.

"It doesn't express how I feel… they're still songs, and it's still a performance," Giddens said. "I'd say I'm drawing a little bit more from my experience, but I had to draw from my experience to write other people's stories.

"There's emotions that I feel that I then translate into these other stories," she added, "so I don't think this record is completely different from that."

She’s Made Killer Appearances With Paul Simon

Paul Simon’s ended his touring years, but he does make sporadic appearances, including at 2022’s "Homeward Bound: A GRAMMY Salute to the Songs of Paul Simon."

There, they performed a version of his epochal "American Tune," where he changed the words in nuanced ways as relates to the American origin story — and he enlisted Giddens to sing it with him.

"He didn't have to do nothing but sit back and collect his checks," Giddens told GRAMMY.com. "He made a statement with that song, and I don't want to take that away from him. I didn't change those words; he changed those words."

Where will Giddens go from her star turn with Bey? Wherever it might be, we’ll feel — and learn — something profound, one banjo strum at a time.

On You’re The One, Rhiannon Giddens’ Craft Finds A Natural Outgrowth: Songwriting

Angélique Kidjo
Beninese singer/songwriter Angélique Kidjo poses with her golden gramophone at the 64th GRAMMY Awards

Photo: PATRICK T. FALLON / AFP / Getty Images

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10 African GRAMMY Winners Through The Years: From Miriam Makeba To Angélique Kidjo & Burna Boy

At the 2024 GRAMMYs, five nominees are up for the inaugural Best African Music Performance category. Yet this is not the first time African artists have been highlighted at Music's Biggest Night — the continent has produced GRAMMY winners since the ‘60s.

GRAMMYs/Jan 10, 2024 - 02:06 pm

At the 2024 GRAMMYs on Feb. 4, history will be made for an entire continent. 

African musicians will finally have a competition to call their own, with the inaugural Best African Music Performance category. GRAMMY winner Burna Boy will go head-to-head with fellow Afrobeats superstars Asake and Davido, as well as rising pop singers Ayra Star of Nigeria and Tyla of South Africa. 

But the 66th GRAMMY Awards is far from the first time Africans have been honored during Music's Biggest Night. African musicians have been taking home golden gramophones since the 1960s, when South African Miriam Makeba won Best Folk Album for her duo with Harry Belafonte. Since then, desert blues bands from the Sahara, extraordinary singers from Senegal and Cape Verde, pop divas from Nigeria and Benin, and a superstar DJ from South Africa have earned trophies in various categories. 

Read on for a history of notable GRAMMY winners from Africa, whose works run the gamut of styles, traditions and categories. 

Miriam Makeba (South Africa) 

Best Folk Recording (with Harry Belafonte) - 1966

Before singer Mariam Makeba won a GRAMMY for An Evening with Belafonte/Makeba, a collaborative record with her mentor Harry Belafonte, an African artist had never won a thing at the GRAMMYs. That the singer had done this while fighting the apartheid regime of South Africa in exile — and amid the civil rights movement in the United States — makes it all the more revolutionary. 

Born in the segregated township of Prospect near Johannesburg in 1932 to a Xhosa father and a Swazi mother, Makeba sang in choirs as a child and gravitated towards a musical career. A part in the anti-apartheid film Come Back, Africa rocketed her to fame in the U.S. and UK, and she traveled to New York and London, performing Xhosa-language folk songs like "Pata Pata" and "Qongqothwane." In London she met Belafonte, who helped her career get started in the United States. 

In 1960, Makeba’s anti-Apartheid activities caught up with her when she was banned from reentering South Africa, forcing her into exile in America. She balanced her musical career with activism, speaking out against Apartheid and integrating protest into records such as Belafonte/Makeba. The album featured the two singing folk songs from across Africa in languages such as Swahili and Zulu, several with explicitly anti-Apartheid themes. 

Though Makeba fell out of favor with white American audiences in the late ‘60s due to close ties with the Black Power movement — she married Black Panther associate Stokely Carmichael (later Kwame Ture) in 1968, leading to a de facto media boycott and surveillance by the CIA and FBI — she continued to perform internationally and protest the South African regime. As Apartheid finally fell in 1990, a newly-freed Nelson Mandela arranged for her homecoming. 

Sade (Nigeria/UK)

Best New Artist - 1986

Born in Ibadan, Nigeria to a Yoruba-ancestry father and an English mother, Helen Folasade Adu had studied fashion in London before becoming the vocalist and face of the band that bears her name, Sade. The jazzy, soulful sophisti-pop on their 1985 record Promise earned instant acclaim, reaching No. 1 on the Billboard 200. Multiple GRAMMYs followed, starting with a Best New Artist award in 1986. 

The group earned eight additional nominations throughout their career and won another three, including Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal for "No Ordinary Love" and Best Pop Vocal Album for Lovers Rock. But their influence — especially that of the famously reclusive singer Adu — resonates beyond awards. Beyoncé, FKA twigs, Frank Ocean, Drake and many others have been influenced by or paid tribute to this iconic force in music. 

Ali Farka Touré (Mali) 

Best World Music Album - 1994

Raised in the town of Niafunké on the edge of the Sahara not far from Timbuktu, Ali Ibrahim Touré was always a bit stubborn, hence his nickname "Farka" (Donkey). It was this headstrong nature that led him to music — his parents frowned upon his musical ambitions, but he defied them, building his own musical instruments. 

If Ali Farka Touré had listened to his parents, he may never have become the godfather of desert blues, the guitar-driven genre that has taken over North Africa. After traveling throughout his home country of Mali, absorbing the different cultures within, Touré went abroad and heard American blues music for the first time, specifically John Lee Hooker, noticing the similarities between his African tunes and the music made by those whose ancestors had been taken from the continent. He began to hit upon a style that fuses his African influences with those from across the Atlantic. 

Touré once surmised "My music is older than the blues," and became a crucial influence on generations of desert blues musicians to come, including Tinariwen, Mdou Moctar, and his own son and fellow musician Vieux Farka Touré. His pioneering sound would bring him two GRAMMYs for Best World Music Album in his lifetime, the first in 1994 for the collaborative record Talking Timbuktu with Ry Cooder, and the second in 2005 for In the Heart of the Moon. In 2010, he was posthumously awarded a golden gramophone for Best Traditional World Music Album, for Ali and Toumani

Before his death in 2006, he became mayor of Niafunké and used the money he earned from his music to build roads, sewers, and a generator for the town. 

Cesária Évora (Cape Verde)

Best Contemporary World Music Album - 2004

Hailing from the former Portuguese colony of Cape Verde off the western coast of Africa, Cesária Évora grew up in poverty and began singing as a child. Starting off as a club singer in the port city of Mindelo, she gained fame as the "Barefoot Diva," performing without shoes in tribute to the poor. It was her voice, however, that made her an international star, representing her small island nation by singing in Portuguese-derived Cape Verdean Creole and popularizing the melancholic, fado and blues-derived genre of morna

Évora had already spent years performing around the world — despite considerable discomfort with stardom — by the time her album Voz d’Amor won Best Contemporary World Music Album at the 2004 GRAMMYs. Évora continued to live in Cape Verde even after becoming famous until her death in 2011 at age 70. 

Youssou N’Dour (Senegal) 

Best Contemporary World Music Album - 2005

Youssou N’Dour, a legendary vocalist from Senegal, had been made famous in the West for his work on Peter Gabriel’s "In Your Eyes" and the Neneh Cherry collab "7 Seconds." He had also worked on Paul Simon’s Album Of The Year-winning Graceland alongside South Africans Ladysmith Black Mambazo (which won two GRAMMYs before N’Dour even received his first). 

But in 2005, he made history as Senegal’s first GRAMMY winner. N’Dour had been nominated three times for Best World Album and once for Best Contemporary World Music Album, finally winning the latter category that year for his album Egypt. (The Sufi-inspired record also earned Egyptian producer Fathy Salama his country’s first GRAMMY). 

The GRAMMY Award was simply the capstone on a long, illustrious career. Born into a griot family in Dakar, telling stories through music was in N’Dour’s blood. In the late 1970s he gained massive acclaim locally as lead vocalist for the band Etoile de Dakar, which pioneered the mbalax genre by blending Afro-Latin dance music with traditional local rhythms. His soaring voice wouldn’t stay confined to his homeland for long as his work with Gabriel in 1986 lifted him to international stardom. Unlike many Francophone-African stars, he stayed in Senegal after breaking through and lives there to this day. 

Angélique Kidjo (Benin/France)

Best Contemporary World Music Album - 2008

Originating from French-speaking Benin and now living in France, Angélique Kidjo

is the most GRAMMY-winning African musician in history. Her five trophies — starting in 2008 with a Best Contemporary World Music Album for Djin Djin — include three Best World Music Album wins and, most recently, a Best Global Music Album award for Mother Nature, which featured collaborations with Burna Boy, Mr. Eazi, and other new-gen African pop acts. 

But more than being a GRAMMYs juggernaut, Kidjo is a grand dame of African music and a matriarchal figure for African musicians. After fleeing Benin for Paris in 1983, she signed with Island Records and rose to international acclaim in the early ‘90s thanks to dance-pop hits such as "Batonga" and "Agolo." Her album Fifa from 1996 saw her return to Benin, working with percussionists throughout the country. 

Her many records since have seen her broaden her musical horizons, exploring African American music in a trilogy of LPs, giving a full-album tribute to salsa icon Celia Cruz, and even reinterpreting Talking Heads’ African-influenced record Remain in Light. Fluent in five languages — including French, English, Yoruba and Fon — Kidjo communicates across the musical world, working with everyone from Carlos Santana and Ziggy Marley, to Tony Allen, Gilberto Gil, and members of Vampire Weekend

RedOne (Morocco)

Best Dance/Electronic Album - 2010

Born in the mountainous city of Tétouan in northern Morocco, Nadir Khayat moved to Sweden to pursue a career in pop music at age 19, lured by the likes of ABBA and Europe. Taking the production alias RedOne, he experienced limited success with artists like the A*Teens, but it wasn’t until he decamped to Jersey City in 2007 that he met the artist who would define his career and win him his GRAMMYs: a little-known pop singer calling herself Lady Gaga

Khayat ended up producing six tracks on Gaga’s debut record The Fame, including her breakthrough hit "Just Dance" — that’s his name you hear her shout at the beginning of the song, by the way. The bombastic, maximalist sound of "Just Dance," "Poker Face," "LoveGame," and Fame Monster tracks like "Bad Romance" and "Alejandro" would conquer the charts, and the GRAMMYs. 

At the 2010 GRAMMYs, The Fame won Best Dance/Electronic Album and "Poker Face" won Best Dance Recording; the next year, The Fame Monster earned Best Pop Vocal Album. Both LPs received Album Of The Year nods and "Poker Face" was nominated for Record and Song Of The Year. RedOne also earned a Moroccan Royal Award from King Mohamed VI in 2011; Though he hasn’t gotten a GRAMMY nod since 2012, few producers have had a run like he did. 

Tinariwen (Mali/Algeria/Libya)

Best World Music Album - 2012

Just a year after Ali Farka Touré earned his final, posthumous GRAMMY, the desert blues band Tinariwen earned their first: Best World Music Album for their LP Tassili. The path they took to get there, however, was far more complicated than Farka’s, involving rebellion, war, and displacement. 

Tinariwen’s members hail from the nomadic Tuareg people of the Sahara, whose frequent battles for independence have continued since the 1960s. Since forming in the 1980s the band’s music-making activities have been interrupted by rebellions against various North African governments, with some of the members even joining the fight. Featuring lyrics about the Tuareg people and their struggle for self-determination, Tinariwen's songs were traded on cassettes across North Africa. 

In the 2000s, they began to release music in the West, first via 2001's The Radio Tisdas Sessions and have since earned acclaim from the global music community. Along with their 2012 win for Tassili, two more of their albums have been nominated: Elwan in 2017 and Amadjar in 2020. They’ve also worked with international musicians such as Mark Lanegan and Daniel Lanois. 

That international acclaim has unfortunately come amid further danger at home. The group were exiled from Mali during the early 2010s Tuareg anti-government rebellion, with particular threats coming from Islamist militants Ansar Dine. Conflict is sadly still a part of life for many desert blues artists; in 2023 the Niger-based Mdou Moctar and his band were unable to return from a U.S. tour due to a military coup d’état in their home country. 

Burna Boy (Nigeria)

Best Global Music Album - 2021

Femi Kuti, King Sunny Adé, Babatunde Olatunji, and his rival WizKid had all received GRAMMY nods before Burna Boy became the first Nigerian male artist to grab a golden gramophone for an original work. The Afrobeats megastar earned the prize for Best World Music Album in 2021 for his album Twice as Tall

At the 66th GRAMMY Awards, Burna Boy has gathered four nominations — a career record. His "City Boys" is nominated in the first-ever Best African Music Performance category. His record I Told Them… earned a slot in Best Global Music Album, and two other songs from the album also got nominations: Best Global Music Performance for "Alone" and Best Melodic Rap Performance for the 21 Savage collab "Sittin’ On Top of the World." 

Black Coffee (South Africa)

Best Dance/Electronic Album - 2022

Before Black Coffee’s album Subconsiously won Best Dance/Electronic Album at the the 2022 GRAMMYs — the first African to win the category for an original project — most of South Africa’s winners were vocal performers like Ladysmith Black Mambazo and the Soweto Gospel Choir. The DJ/producer’s victory represents a shift around ideas of what African musicians are capable of, from traditional genres and folk music to the high-tech world of electronic dance music. 

That success hasn’t necessarily come easy for the musician, born Nkosinathi Innocent Maphumulo in KwaZulu Natal province. In 1990 while celebrating Nelson Mandela’s release from prison, Maphumulo lost the use of his left arm in a car accident. Disability didn’t deter him from pursuing a music career, and by the mid-2000s he had become celebrated in his home country for helping develop Afro house, blending the international house music sound with influences from kwaito, mbaqanga, and other South African genres and sounds. 

Today, Black Coffee is one of the most sought-after house DJs in the world, but back home in SA and across Africa, it’s the sultry sound of Amapiano, an Afro-House offshoot, that reverberates in clubs and at festivals today. A new generation of talent have embraced the smooth genre, from pop princess Tyla and producer/DJ Musa Keys to Nigerian Afrobeats stars like Davido and Asake, all of whom have nods at this year’s GRAMMYs. 

Here Are The Nominees For Best African Music Performance At The 2024 GRAMMYs