In less than a year, Nigerian superstar Burna Boy parlayed a quip at Coachella into a critically-acclaimed, record-breaking Grammy-nominated album, African Giant.
Burna Boy, née Damini Ogulu, has experienced an ascension that has been less meteoric and more piecemeal — marked by defining deterrents and gradual wins. His Best World Music Album Grammy nomination comes at no surprise to the fans and onlookers who have been following the 28-year-old afro-fusion artist’s rise over the better half of a decade. This development in the Afropop protagonist’s career represents the climax in a coming-of-age success story of one of Africa’s most successful artists of today.
Back in August 2018, in a South African school, a pair of sopranos sang and swayed together. Maya Tester and Thulisile Ntetha were from different choirs, different continents. But minutes into their first rehearsal, they were chatting and laughing.
“We just clicked,” said Ntetha.
More than a year later, the pair giggled as they told the story in a very different setting: Tester’s south Minneapolis kitchen.
One joyful evening at the Barbican, London, in April 2014, identical Nigerian twins, then aged 65, appeared on stage in matching sparkly red dresses alongside musicians including Damon Albarn, Sinkane, Alexis Taylor of Hot Chip and Beastie Boys collaborator Money Mark. They were there to sing the music of William Onyeabor, an elusive synth-pop oddball whose music had been rediscovered by David Byrne’s Luaka Bop label and was being toured by this unlikely supergroup. But the twins were also making their return to the spotlight following their own lost years, having languished in obscurity for decades.
American music collector Brian Shimkovitz has a keen ear for music that could be easily lost in the bargain bin of history. Before realising his Awesome Tapes From Africa (ATFA) music blog and DJ project, Shimkovitz had gone to Ghana to study the hip hop scene in the country. He returned to the US with a host of audio cassettes that one could only find at African markets.
The story of South African jazz has been told in venues across New York City since the ’60s, when the likes of Hugh Masekela and Miriam Makeba came to the town as exiles from Johannesburg. The part of the story that came after the country found democracy hasn’t had as much stage time as fans of the genre would say it deserves. It’s this part of the story that Jazz at Lincoln Center’s new series of concerts, the South African Songbook, chose to spotlight to kick off its 2019-2020 season.
By GARY GERARD HAMILTON, ASSOCIATED PRESS NEW YORK
Burna Boy was only six years old when Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti passed away, but that was enough time for the future musician to be inspired.
“Everyone’s got their hero,” the 28-year-old Nigerian performer said. “For me, that’s my hero.”
Kuti — the Nigerian musical icon and political agitator whose life and legacy was portrayed in the wildly popular Broadway musical “Fela!” — was once managed by Burna Boy’s grandfather, someone else he calls a hero.
The “Wash It” singer tells the Recording Academy about her multinational background, growing up in L.A., Tulsa, Nigeria and Kenya and breaking out of what can sometimes be an isolating music scene
By RACHEL BRODSKY
Everyone has an origin story, and R&B/Afropop singer Victoria Kimani‘s is especially memorable. Born in Los Angeles to Kenyan parents, the 34-year-old moved all over the globe—specifically to Tulsa, Okla., Nigeria and finally Kenya—during her teen years.
Afrobeats has been steadily infiltrating the U.S. airwaves for the past few years. In fact, you may have heard Afro B’s “Drogba (Joanna)” thumping out of someone’s car speakers this summer, bringing the uplifting vibe you need when the sun is out.
The term afrobeats has been used to describe a collective campaign of different musical styles stemming from Africa, not to get mixed up with Afrobeat, which is a West African music genre blending fuji and highlife music with American jazz and funk, pioneered by Fela Kuti. Afrobeats is a word that’s used to bring awareness to African-influenced music from collectives like the Flight Club, artists like Davido, Burna Boy, and Wizkid, and producers like P2J.
The superstar’s new album will feature a number of African stars who rarely get exposure in the U.S.
By Elias Leight
Beyoncé has announced The Lion King: The Gift, an album that will accompany the remake of the famous Disney animated film will have a track list that includes stars from Nigeria, Ghana and South Africa, artists who rarely get exposure in the American mainstream.
Songs of the struggle and music steeped in South Africa’s apartheid past. The story of how the Soweto Gospel Choir captivated the world
By Motlabana Monnakgotla
Three Grammys in 12 years. And more global awards in their 17 years of existence. In February this year, at the 61st annual Grammy awards in Los Angeles, South Africa’s child and Africa’s pride, the Soweto Gospel Choir (SGC) walked up to the stage to a rousing ovation.
Burna’s Boy’s mother delivered a special message while accepting the honor for “Best International Act” at the BET Awards. Bose Ogulu, the manager and mother of the Afro-fusion musician accepted the award on her son’s behalf.