Recording Academy Announces Africa Partnerships

Grammy Awards oversight body the Recording Academy has announced that it has partnered with African and Middle Eastern ministries and stakeholders to support global music creators.

The development follows tours by Recording Academy management over the past two years, including CEO Harvey Mason Jr and president Panos A Panay, during which they held listening sessions and gathered insights from local music creators and government ministries. In Africa, these include the Rwanda Development Board and the ministries of culture in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa. Memorandums of understanding were signed with Ghana and the Ivory Coast.

Key initiatives accompanying the new agreements include advocacy and enhanced training via online learning platform GRAMMY GO. The academy will produce original content celebrating Africa’s musical heritage and emerging scenes while supporting existing members through cross-cultural learning, IP protection advocacy and collaborative opportunities. It will also publish reports highlighting the academy’s research about Africa’s music industries.

At the 2024 Grammys, the Recording Academy introduced for the first time the Best African Music Performance category, recognising music that incorporates unique local expressions from across the continent. The category was won by South Africa’s Tyla.

“This is exciting because music is one of humanity’s greatest natural resources,” Mason Jr said. “It is critical that the people who dedicate themselves to creating music have support, resources and opportunities, no matter where they are from.”

“The Recording Academy is dedicated to supporting music creators around the world,” Panay added. “Our expansion efforts into these fast-growing regions reflect our commitment to fostering a truly global music community, where creators at every stage of their careers and from every corner of the world have the resources and support they need to thrive.”

Kenya’s cabinet secretary for youth affairs, sports and the arts, Ababu Namwamba, said: “Creatives offer a formidable platform for building cultural, social, economic and political ties across the East African community, the African continent and indeed the entire African diaspora globally. And so, it should be no surprise that Kenya is delighted to be among the four champions of this effort, alongside our sister nations of Rwanda, Nigeria and South Africa.”

Rwanda Development Board CEO Francis Gatare said: “This initiative underscores Rwanda’s dedication to a vibrant and dynamic cultural landscape, positioning us at the heart of Africa’s creative renaissance.”

“The Recording Academy is accelerating its efforts to serve music people everywhere, and Africa is ready with open arms,” Beninese music legend and activist Angélique Kidjo, who boasts five Grammy awards, said. “We are a continent of music and young, passionate music makers. I’m proud to see the academy forming partnerships with Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, and no doubt, more to come!”

Afrobeats star Davido said: “As an African musician, I’m excited about the Recording Academy’s expansion into Africa and the Middle East. It acknowledges our vibrant talent and the global influence of African music. This initiative offers a platform for creators, elevating our cultural expressions and uniting us through music.”

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