The Grammy Awards, widely regarded as the highest form of recognition for musicians, have continued to highlight and reward musical talents worldwide since their beginning in 1954.
It began recognizing exceptional projects by African artists in the 1960s, when South Africa’s Mariam Makeba became the first African performer to receive a Grammy.
Here are 14 Grammy-winning African artists.
1. Angélique Kidjo (Republic of Benin, 5 Grammys)
Angélique Kidjo, a Beninese-French singer, has won five Grammy Awards. Kidjo won in the categories of ‘Best Contemporary World Music Album,’ Best World Music Album (twice), and Best Global Music Album in 2007, 2015, 2016, 2020, and 2022, respectively.
The Grammys were given to the vocal powerhouse for the albums “Djin Djin, Eve, Sings, Celia, and Mother Nature.”
2. Ali Farka Touré (Mali, 3 Grammys)
Ali Farka Touré, a Malian artist, has won three Grammy Awards. Touré’s ‘Talking Timbuktu’ CD received the Grammy for ‘Best Global Music CD’ in 1995.
A few weeks before his death, the Malian multi-instrumentalist earned his second Grammy for the album ‘Heart Of The Moon,’ which he co-wrote with Toumani Diabate.
In 2010, his posthumous record “Ali and Toumani” earned Touré his third Grammy in the category “Best Traditional World Music Album.”
3. Soweto Gospel Choir – (South Africa, 3 Grammys)
The well-known South African gospel music ensemble is a three-time Grammy winner. They won the Grammys for ‘Best Traditional World Music Album’ in 2007 and 2008.
In 2019, the Soweto Gospel Choir won another Grammy in the category of “Best World Music Album” for their 2018 album Freedom.
4. Owuor Arunga (Kenya, 3 Grammys)
Famous for his trumpeting abilities on the popular Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’s record, “Thrift Shop,” which earned him two Grammy awards in 2014 in the categories of “Best Rap Song” and “Best Rap Performance,” Arunga won his third Grammy for his contribution on the music group’s 2012 “The Heist” album, which earned him a Grammy in 2014 for “Best Rap Album.”
5. Helen Folasade Adu – Sade Adu (Nigeria, 3 Grammys)
Sade Adu, a singer, composer, and actor, was born in Ibadan as Helen Folasade Adu in 1959 but grew up in Essex, England. She is well recognized as the lead singer of her own band. She is the first artist of Nigerian ancestry to get the prestigious honor.
Her first Grammy was for “Best New Artist” in 1986, and her second was for “No Ordinary Love” in 1994, for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocals.
She won her third Grammy in 2002 for “Lovers Rock” in the Best Pop Vocal Album category, and her fourth in 2011 for “Soldier of Love” in the Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocals category.
6. Sikiru Adepoju (Nigeria, 2 Grammys)
Adepoju, a two-time Grammy Award winner, rose to international prominence in 1991 when he won the Grammy Award for “Best World Music CD” for his work to American drummer Mickey Hart’s 1991 “Planet Drum’ album.
Adepoju won another Grammy in 2008 alongside musical artists Mickey Hart, Zakir Hussain, and Giovanni Hidalgo for the Album ‘Global Drum Project” in the category of “Best Contemporary World Music Album.”
7. Lekan Babalola (Nigeria, 2 Grammys)
Lekan Babalola is a Nigerian jazz percussionist and musician who began playing the conga at a young age. He has seven albums to his credit and two Grammy nominations.
He began his professional career by joining the Samba Samba Band and later Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers band in New York City, where he honed his skills on the Bongo drums and performed jazz music.
He won his first Grammy Award in 2006 for his work on Ali Farka Touré’s In the Heart of the Moon, for which he was recognized on three tracks. He was also nominated for a second Grammy in 2009 for his work on Cassandra Wilson’s 2008 album Loverly.
8. Miriam Makeba (South Africa, 1 Grammy)
Makeba, often known as Mama Africa, is a South African music icon who received a Grammy in 1966 for the collaborative album “An Evening with Makeba/Belafonte.” Makeba won in the category of “Best Folk Recording” with mentor Henry Belafonte.
9. Babatunde Olatunji (Nigeria, 1 Grammy)
Olatunji of Nigeria won a Grammy Award in 1991, again in the category of “Best World Music Album.” Olatunji, who is now deceased, collaborated with thirteen other musicians on Mickey Hart’s 1991 “Planet Drum” album, which earned all fourteen acts Grammy nominations.
10. Youssou Ndour (Senegal, 1 Grammy)
Ndour, a Senegalese artist, won a Grammy in 2005 for “Best Contemporary World Music Album ‘Album’ for the project ‘Egypt.’
11. Tems (Nigeria, 1 Grammy)
Temilade Openiyi, better known as Tems, won a Grammy in 2023 in the category of “Best Melodica Rap Performance” for her contribution to American rapper Future’s hit single “Wait For U.”
12. Richard Bona (Cameroon, 1 Grammy)
Richard Bona, a Cameroonian bassist, received a Grammy in 2002 for Best Contemporary Jazz Album for his album “Speaking Of Now.”
13. Wizkid (Nigeria, 1 Grammy)
Wizkid, a Nigerian singer, made waves in 2021 when he received a Grammy award for his joint effort on Beyonce’s 2019 smash album “Brown Skin Girl.” Wizkid was named the winner of the ‘Best Music Video’ category.
14. Burna Boy (Nigeria, 1 Grammy)
Damini Ogulu, alias Burna Boy, of Nigeria, won the prize for ‘Best World Music Album’ at the 2021 Grammy Awards. Burna received the award for his Twice As Tall album.