By A Special Correspondent
I’ve read that Kidjo’s Grammy award is for Best Global Music Album. Kidjo’s album is ‘Mother Nature’, which has 13 tracks including the track Mother Nature.
I’ve now listened to the entire album. It’s diverse, and she put a lot of work into it.
I give top marks to five of the 13 tracks, but many of the other tracks sound Western. One track, Mycelium is very French-French, which must be an effort to appeal to metropolitan French audiences.
The five tracks, which are distinctly African, soulful and enjoyable are
1) Do Yourself, with Nigeria’s Burna Boy;
2) Africa, One of a kind (with Salif Keita and Eazi)
3) Omon Oba
4) Flying High
5) One Africa, Indépendance Cha Cha (a rendition of Congo’s Grande Kalle and African Jazz’s 1950s classic Indépendance Cha Cha that ushered in Africa’s independence)
I didn’t know that her ‘Do Yourself’ collabo track with Burna Boy was part of the album. I’ve been playing that song for many months. Great song—my favourite.
I think she’s very versatile, but as I said in my previous comment, (see last paragraph), Africans love her music when Africa’s rhythm and soul drives it. But then she wants to win a Grammy, which is an American/Western award despite its pretense to be global.
Which brings me to my last point. Western music is highly differentiated in the Grammy awards. There are awards for Country, Rock, Folk, Heavy Metal, Orchestral, Pop, R&B, Jazz, Blues, Gospel, Rap etc. Even Jamaica has been able to get secure two awards for Reggae, and Latin America has three or four music categories. The rest of the world’s music is homogenised as Global Music.
There is a large variety of music genres in Africa, such as Afrobeat, Amapiano, Soukous, Rumba, Makosa, Highlife, Bubu, traditional etc. Sticking to the World Music category diminishes African and other non-Western music. It underscore the point that the Grammy is an American/Western—not a global—institution.
Indeed, the Global Music category has only two awards: Best Global Music Album and Best Global Music performance or video. There’s not even an award for best single record, so a global hit like Jarusalema from South Africa that swept the world in 2020-21 never won a Grammy.
If the Global Music award category remains undifferentiated and African super stars prioritise it, it will undermine authentic African creativity as our artists will want to make their so-called “global music” appeal to the tastes or standards of the West, which unfortunately is often a byword for global.
‘Mother Nature’’s lyrics are powerful but it doesn’t come close to the rhythmic beauty of ‘Agolo’. ‘Mother Nature’’s beat is a bit too Western, which perhaps may explain why she won this year’s award. The Grammy judges must be largely white Americans. I only hope Kidjo is not reorienting her music to suit Western tastes. Kudos to her though for winning it for the fifth time. But she should stay with the rhythm and soul of Africa.