A track and singles category that includes recordings that utilize unique local expressions from across the African continent. Highlighting regional melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic musical traditions, the category includes but is not limited to the Afrobeat, Afro fusion, Afro Pop, Afrobeats, Alte, Amapiano, Bongo Flava, Genge, Kizomba, Chimurenga, High Life, Fuji, Kwassa, Ndombolo, Mapouka, Ghanaian Drill, Afro-House, South African Hip Hop, and Ethio Jazz genres.
Previously, such performances competed for best global music performance, a category that will continue, albeit without African music performances.
Told that some critics have said that one category isn’t enough for an entire continent, Mason responds, “I don’t disagree. It’s a starting point, though. It’s a way for us to celebrate music that’s coming from that continent which is really impressive.”
The larger significance of this new award is that it shows that the Academy, which was founded and long known as the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, is taking a more international view.
“It’s an acknowledgment that music is coming from many different places and that we as an Academy are going to have to make some changes to what we’re doing to make sure we’re honoring it,” Mason says. “It’s not just about Western music. It’s not just about what happens in the U.S. at this point. It’s beyond that. It’s what’s happening around the world. You’ll see us in the future listening and going to different countries. I went to Africa three times in the last year, traveling the world to understand what’s happening, what’s next in music, where are music pockets bubbling, where is the next scene that’s going to explode globally. What does it mean to have borderless music? This is a step in that direction.”