When we hear or talk about the Grammys, do we ever think NIGERIA? Not exactly! The Recording Academy Grammy Awards is the dream of every musician on the planet as it is the most respected award that stands as a testament to the influence an artists career has had.
Just in case you didn’t know, there are some Nigerians who have worked hard enough to earn this prestigious award. However, because some of them are based outside the country, some are already out of the entertainment scene, and some others are bi-racial. It took a lot of research to find these people and you will be surprised they are more famous outside Nigeria than they will ever be if they decided to come back home.
Some people strongly believe that Nigerians do not get Grammy awards or nominations because they either do not work hard enough or simply because they are Africans. That is a wrong notion and one that must be expunged from the minds of everyone who believes such lies.
As a matter of fact, the Grammy awards embraces diversity and that is why the ‘World Music’s carry was created in 1991. Over the years, Africans have won more awards in the category than people from other races. This counters every claims of racism that anyone has made or intended to make that points at the Grammys.
Some people still try to pitch to the Grammy’s that the inclusion of a specific category for modern African music is needed and will display It’s genuine interest in African arts. Who knows, that may become a thing soon, but till then we are cool with what is obtainable.
So with lots of intense search and research we have put together the 5 Nigerians who have won the prestigious Grammy awards;
1. Sikiru Adepoju, 1991 (Planet Drum), 2009 (Global Drum Project)
Sikiru Adepoju (pronounced Seek-ee-roo Ah-deh-po-joo) is a king when it comes to the Yoruba talking drum and many other African percussion instruments. This man was born in Eruwa, Nigeria, and he hails from the long traditional lineage of respected Yoruba talking drummers culturally called the Ayan which translates to mean“one who has descended from drummers lineage,” and he began to play under the tutulage of Chief Ayanleke Adepoju at the age of six. Chief Ayanleke Adepoju is Sikiru’s father.
Along with his male siblings Saminu and Lasisi, Sikiru followed the family’s talking drum ensemble for many years.
After relocating from Nigeria to the San Fransico Bay Area in 1985, Young Sikiru joined the very influential and first Nigerian percussionist Babatunde Olantunji and his wonderful Drums of Passion. As you can already guess, this transition marked a lengthy period of real productivity from Mr Sikiru which gave him a platform to record and perform throughout the globe until a year before Babatunde’s death in 2003.
During this period Sikiru got introduced to the Grateful Dead drummer, Mickey Hart, who has referred to Sikiru as “The Mozart of the talking drum,” and went further to fix him on many of his personal projects which included the Grammy award winning albums tiled Planet Drum of 1991 and the Global Drum Project of 2009.
2. Sade Adu
So you must have heard about Sade but probably never thought she’d be on the list. This is the queen of them all. Sade Adu has 4 Grammy awards in wonderful career and she won them in 1986, 1994, 2002 and 2011 respectively.
Sade is a musician, singer born as Helen Folasade Adu on January 16, 1959 in the city of Ibadan, Nigeria and was raised in London by her English mother. Helen developed several creative interests as a teenager, including fashion design,singing and modeling. Sade sang with a few good local bands before later signing with Epic Records and proceeding to record her first album titled Diamond Life in the year 1984.
A huge hit in Nigeria and her native England, the Diamond life album also had mass appeal across the pond, special thanks to a single such as “Smooth Operator.” Sade worked harder and In 1986, she bagged a Grammy Award for Best New Artist.
Sade Adu’s subsequent multi-platinum albums titled Promise, Stronger Than Pride, and also Love Deluxe, did well to establish her as a top-selling soul and pop artist. Sade took a new style with her 2000 album titled, Lovers Rock, which was released only eight years after the release of Love Deluxe and even incorporated a more mainstream sound. The new record, and specifically the chart-topping song titled “By Your Side,” helped Sade gather together new audiences all around the world.
Two years after that, the album and the tour that ensued inspired Helen’s first live recording called Lovers Live. Miss Adult returned to the studio and dished out her sixth album In February 2010 titled Soldier of Love.
3. Sealhenry Olusegun Olumide Adeola Samuel
Seal is Nigerian to the bone and even visited his mother land recently. Seal has a total of 4 Grammy awards, winning a total of 3 in 1996 alone and 1 in the year 2011. Sealhenry Olusegun Olumide Adeola Samuel is a London, England, born and raised Yoruba Man. He was born on February 19, 1963.
Olusegun went on to win a major U.K. hit, “Killer,” before he went ahead to release his 1991 debut album. Seal has become an internationally respected singer/songwriter with his albums such as Human Being and hit songs like “Prayer for the Dying” and the wonderful “Kiss From a Rose,” which won him multiple Grammy Awards. Olusegun was married to TV host and Supermodel Heidi Klum for many years.
4. Kevin Olusola
Kevin Olusola is that dark and handsome beatboxer guy from renowned acapella group Pentatonix. Kelvin has won a total of 3 Grammy awards in 2015, 2016 and 2017 respectively.
Kelvin bagged for himself an award alongside his super talented acapella band, Pentatonix. The award was won in the ‘Arrangement, Instrumental or acappella’ category for their medley titled ‘Daft Punk’, which is a remake of Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky”.
5. Lekan Babalola
Babalola plays the Conga so well and won as many as 2 Grammy awards for his name. He won his two Grammy awards in 2006 and 2009. Leland was born in Lagos State, Nigeria where he started to play the conga at a tender age. Lakan has released a total of seven albums and also won two Grammy Awards.
Two times Grammy award-winning South-western percussionist, Babalola Leland, is well known for his innovative musical style, using his native tongue skillfully infused with local music, Afrobeat as well some really nice and funky dance overtones.
However, some talented Nigerian icons have also got nominations for this award. Stars likes King Sunny Ade, Timaya, Wizkid, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Seun Kuti, Femi Kuti.