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Femi Kuti’s Grammy loss won't stop Afrobeat

Femi Kuti
Femi Kuti
Knitting Factory Records

For many, last night’s Grammy Awards telecast was a spectacle to be seen by pop music enthusiasts. Yes, Beyoncé and Jay-Z opened with the sex-dripping ditty “Drunk in Love” and from there it was on. Fans were vying to see who would capture the coveted awards in top categories in pop, rap, and rock.

Well, if you haven’t noticed there are other Grammy categories that you may not hear as much about but are just as important to music fans.

One of the growing categories is the Best World Music Album. This is a category that honors music from various artists from around the world that captures the spirit of the country the artist represents.

This year’s Grammy nominees for Best World Music Album were: “Savor Flamenco” by the Gipsy Kings, “Live: Singing For Peace Around The World” by Ladysmith Black Mambazo, “No Place For My Dream” by Femi Kuti, and “The Living Room Sessions Part 2,” by Ravi Shankar.

While many in the Nigerian community and beyond thought Afrobeat star Femi Kuti, son of the legendary Fela Kuti, would be a shoe-in because this is his fourth Grammy nod in the same category, he lost. Longtime Grammy favorites - the French group Gipsy Kings and South African choir Ladysmith Black Mambazo - won in a tie.

Prior to the telecast, Kuti, who was also nominated for the same Grammy in 2003, 2010, and 2011, expressed that, “I would be shocked if I win,” in an interview with popular Nigerian magazine ENCOMIUM Weekly.

As word started to get around that the Afrobeat star lost his Grammy bid, Kuti hit Twitter and tweeted, “Congrats to the winners. The nomination already made my year. Not winning won't spoil it.”

Afrobeat fans flooded his Twitter feed with both positive and angry posts. But Kuti reminded his disappointed fans that it’s an uphill battle to get recognition for his political music and tweeted among other thought provoking words, “I’m more concerned about a better life in my country/Africa and what my music stands for. I appreciate the nomination though.”

According to “Modern Ghana,” the Afrobeat saxophonist found out about his loss after performing at the famed Afrika Shrine in Lagos. His sister, Yeni Kuti, called him from Los Angeles and broke the news. She was in attendance hoping to receive the award for him.

If you’ve never heard of Femi Kuti or his famed father Fela Kuti, who's credited with starting the Afrobeat movement, then please check out their music. It’s available everywhere.