By Ayo Onikoyi
African-American Richardine Bartee, a Grammy Recording Academy Member, and ‘Afrobeat To The World’ advocate has revealed she voted for Burna Boy at the just concluded 63rd Grammy Awards event which held last Sunday in Los Angeles, USA and also highlighted what the Nigerian two Grammys entails, not only to Africa but the future of Afrobeats on the world stage.
In a WhatsApp chat with Potpourri, Bartee avers, “Wizkid and Burna Boy winning GRAMMY awards is a big deal, not only to Africa but also to the people in the US pushing music made in Africa. A group of people, including Quincy Jones and myself, are involved in bringing a new inclusive category to the GRAMMY, which we hope will help to “blend Western and non-Western elements of rhythm, melody and instrumentation”.
Addressing the mounting fear that Afrobeats, of which Nigeria is the flag-bearer to the world, may die a natural death like Soukous and Makossa, Bartee assures that the genre can never die in its true form.
She says, “Based on music history and what happens in American pop culture, most things have their moment. It’s what we refer to as an era, or something had its “15-seconds of fame”. Nothing lasts forever in its original form, and it shouldn’t. Human life is ever-evolving, and it would be a pity if it did. Like the Christ Redeemer Statue is to Brazil, Afrobeats will always be synonymous with Africa. I hope that Afrobeats, in the future, gets coupled with how it affects Diaspora people, encouraging them to learn more about their ethnic backgrounds and visit the land. Afrobeat cannot die in its true form, it can only evolve.”
Many Americans, particularly those of African descent have been vigorously promoting Afrobeats in America. Richardine Bartee, for the better part of 10 years, has been an advocate of Afrobeats, with a special focus on emerging artists.
Recently, another African-American, Sheila O with Afrozons and in conjunction with Mixcloud just launched a programme tagged “Afrobeats US Weekly Top 10 Chart” with a view to promoting Afrobeats in the USA. Sheila Akonji known as Sheila O is the anchor of the show, “How Far with Sheila O which airs on HIPTV.
Burna Boy won his Grammy Award in the Best Global Music Album category for his original body of work “Twice As Tall” album, while Wizkid cliched the Best Music Video for a collaborative effort with Beyonce on the “Brown Skin Girl,” from Lion King: The Gift album.