The Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr revealed recently to reporters that the academy is considering an Afrobeats category to its line-up of awards at the Grammys.
In a recent trip to Ghana, Mason Jr. told Ghanaian journalists that the Recording Academy was in talks with the key players in the Afrobeats music scene to explore the possibility of adding Afrobeats to the award’s genre list.
During the conversation, he mentioned that the Academy was working with “leaders of the Afrobeats community” to promote inclusivity at the Grammys.
“We just had a meeting literarily about six to seven days ago, with leaders of the Afrobeats community… We had listening session where we heard from Afrobeats creators, we talked about the different subgenres what are the needs, what are the desires, and my goal is to represent all genres of music including Afrobeats at the Grammys,” Mason said.
Although Mason said that the process was ongoing, the right strategy would have to be taken to ensure that things go off without a hitch.
“I don’t decide categories. The categories are decided by proposals by members. Members can say ‘Harvey, I want an Afrobeat category,’ they write a proposal for the category they talked about. So that process is started now. We did a listening session last week for the step towards that path,” said Mason.
Afrobeats has become a global phenomenon, and has taken a spot on the world stage as one of the leading genres in music. Artists like Burna Boy, Davido, Wizkid and a bevy of others have pushed the sound of Africa past the shores of Africa, and have gotten the respect, attention and admiration of music lovers worldwide.
If Afrobeats becomes a category at the Grammys, it will further push the sounds of West Africa to the fore front and will also give subgenres like Amapiano, which is quickly becoming a rave in the Africa music scene extra visibility.
When Mason’s comments hit the internet, there was a mix of reactions. Although some music consumers viewed the news as a good development for the African continent, others had a more cynical point of view about it. In the past, the Recording Academy has been on the receiving end of backlash about its lack of diversity and conformity with global African music, and some of those concerns have resurfaced.