The Nigerian music industry is a force to reckon with on the international scene today given its exponential growth particularly because of the fast rise of Afrobeats. This was not the case some 15 to 25 years ago when the songs that dominated airwaves in Nigeria were released by veterans such as Daddy Showkey, Sir Victor Uwaifo, Sunny Nneji, Paul Play Dairo and Innocent ”Tubaba” Idibia.
Nigerian music has gone from not being appreciated enough to having artistes that win prestigious international awards like The Grammys. Through the years, different artistes have promised to bring home a Grammy award but only a handful of Nigerians have achieved that feat. Although the list was very short about a decade ago, there are now up to a dozen Nigerian artistes who have Grammys bragging rights.
The National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences on an annual basis bestows a Grammy award to various people in recognition of their outstanding works in the global music industry.
In this article we will list 10 Nigerians who have bagged Grammy awards in no particular order.
1. Helen Folasade Adu (Sade Adu)
Sadu Adu, born Helen Folasade Adu in 1959 is a singer, songwriter and actress. She holds the title of the first artiste of Nigerian origin to win the prestigious award in 1986. The musician who grew up in Essex, England won her first Grammy for “Best New Artist”. She got another one in 1994 with “No Ordinary Love” for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocals.
In 2002, Sade earned her third Grammy award with “Lovers Rock” in the Best Pop Vocal Album and bagged her fourth in 2011 with “Soldier of Love” for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocals.
2. Olusegun Olumide Adeola Samuel (Seal)
Born in 1963, Henry Olusegun Adeola Samuel professionally known Seal is a British-Nigerian musician. He is popularly known for his 1994 hit song, “Kiss from a Rose.” He has won four Grammys with 14 nominations under his belt. He holds one of the highest numbers of Grammy awards by a Nigerian. Seal’s song, “Kiss From A Rose” earned him three Grammy awards in 1996 and in 2011 he nabbed his fourth with “Imagine”.
3. Sikiru Adepoju
Sikiru Adepoju is a multi-talented instrumentalist, percussionist and recording artiste who dwells on traditional African and world music. He won his first Grammy in 1991 as a part of Mickey Hart’s group Planet Drum, in the category for Best Contemporary World Music Album. His second award came in 2009 as a part of Mickey Hart’s latest group Global Drum Project for Best Contemporary World Music Album.
4. Hakeem Seriki (Chamillionaire)
Popular rapper, Hakeem Seriki professionally known as Chamillionaire was born Nov 29, 1979 to a Muslim Nigerian father and an African-American Christian mother in Washington D.C. He clinched a Grammy award in 2007 for his chart topping song “Riddin’ under the Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group category. In the same year, Chamillionaire bagged four nominations.
5. Lekan Babalola
Nigerian jazz percussionist, Lekan Babalola has two Grammy awards, having won the first in 2006 for his work on Ali Farka Touré‘s In the Heart of the Moon. He started playing the conga at an early age and began his professional career after joining a band called Samba Samba Band and later New York City-based Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers band. He won his second Grammy in 2009 for his work on Cassandra Wilson‘s 2008 album titled Loverly.
6. Kevin Olusola
Kentucky-born Kevin Olusola is a musician, songwriter, beatboxer, rapper and record producer. He has a Nigerian father named Oluwole Olusola and Grenadian mother, Curline Paul. In 2015, his band Pentatonix won a Grammy in the “Best Arrangement, Instrumental or a cappella” category for their song “Daft Punk”, a medley of songs by Daft Punk.
Olusola is best known as the beatboxer of the vocal band Pentatonix. He has three Grammy awards to his name. Also in 2017, Pentatonix won a Grammy in the “Best Country duo/group performance” category for “Jolene” which featured Dolly Parton.
7. Damini Ogulu (Burna Boy)
Self-acclaimed African Giant, Burna Boy shook the Nigerian entertainment industry when he won a Grammy award in the Global Music category with his Twice as Tall album in 2021. His ‘African Giant’ album was first nominated in 2020 but lost to Republic of Benin’s Angelique Kidjo, although she publicly acknowledged the talent, genius and greatness that Burna typifies.
8. Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun (Wizkid)
Ace Nigerian singer, Wizkid, fondly called Machala won his first Grammy courtesy of his feature on Beyonce’s Brown Skin Girl video. They won the Best Music Video category in the 2021 Grammy awards.
9. Jenn Nkiru
British-Nigerian filmmaker, Jenn Nkiru got a Grammy for her work on Beyonce and Wizkid’s “Brown Skin Girl” video in 2019 for the Best Music Video. She was also a second unit director of Ricky Saiz’s video for Beyoncé and Jay-Z, “Apeshit”.
10. Cynthia Erivio
Cynthia Oniedin Manas China Saoku Uerivo is a Nigerian English singer, actress and songwriter born January 8, 1987. She won the 2017 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album. She is best known for her success as a serie in the color purple revival on Broadway.
It is also important to note that there Nigerian artistes who have received Grammy nominations but never won. They include; King Sunny Ade who is the first to ever receive a nomination in 1983. Afrobeats star, Femi Kuti, and Nigerian writer, Chimamanda Adichie-Ngozi courtesy of her feature on Beyonce’s 2015 album.