African Music Enters the World Stage: Industry Leaders Ring In New Era at AfroChella, Afro Nation
Global power players gathered on the continent in December for a whirlwind tour of festivals and events spotlighting African artists.
Over the past couple of years, Africa has exploded as a major player on the global music scene. From U.S. labels scooping up breakout African artists such as Burna Boy, Tiwa Savage and Davido to the ascendancy of African streaming platform Boomplay and the inroads of majors Universal, Sony and Warner Bros. on the continent, the stage is set for a lucrative new future for African music.
Perhaps it’s no surprise, then, that a host of U.S.-based industry power players traveled to the continent in December to attend some of Africa’s hottest festivals, from Flytime in Lagos, Nigeria to AfroChella and Afro Nation in Accra, Ghana. The attendance of so many influential figures only underscored the point: Africa is a new frontier for the industry, and a potential hotbed of future mega-stars on the world stage.
Kicking off the December festivities was the Flytime Music Festival in Eko, Lagos, Nigeria, put on in celebration of festival producer Flytime Promotions’ 15th anniversary. Commencing on Dec. 20 and running through Dec. 25, the festival featured an intriguing mix of A-list African artists (Burna Boy, Tiwa Savage, Koffee, Tomi Thomas) and U.S. stars (Megan Thee Stallion, Mase, Boyz II Men).
Among the luminaries in attendance were EMPIRE CEO and COO Ghazi Shami and Nima Etminan, both of whom were spotted backstage at Day 3 headliner Meghan Thee Stallion’s concert. Meanwhile, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey — who recently moved to Africa and will be spending a total of roughly three months on the continent — was seen at the nearby Moist Beach Club during the festival along with several Twitter employees, including head of U.S. sports partnerships TJ Adeshola.
The action moved to Ghana later in the month with the third annual AfroChella festival, which kicked off with music panels (powered by Audiomack) on Dec. 26 that included Audiomack co-founder and CMO David Ponte; Spotify global lead, African music Tunde Ogundipe; Aftown marketing and artist relations head Antoine Mensah; Ms Naa, radio host on Ghana’s YFM; Ghanian guitarist Joey-B; and Ghanian music producer JULS.
Like Flytime, AfroChella (sponsored by Visa, Twitter, Audiomack and Bacardi) was a star-studded affair featuring a who’s-who of African artists. The festival, which ran from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1 (the main event took place on Dec. 28 at El Wak Stadium in Accra) featured headliners Tiwa Savage, Sarkodie, Samini and Wande Coal, along with Distruction Boyz, Mercedes Benson, Neya Music, Amarachi Nwosu and more. Notably, Beyonce’s mother Tina Knowles was spotted out and about, including backstage at Tiwa Savage’s set and eating breakfast the following morning at Accra’s luxurious Movenpick Ambassador Hotel.
Simultaneously taking place at Accra’s Laboma Beach was Afro Nation, billed as “Africa’s Biggest Urban Music Beach Festival.” That event, which was co-sponsored by Audiomack, also featured its share of big-name headliners, including Burna Boy, Davido, Rotimi, Wizkid, Shatta Wale, 6lack, Alkaline, D’Banj, R2Bees, Olamide and Stonebwoy.
On Dec. 29, Atlanta-based label and management firm LVRN (a.k.a. Love Renaissance) — which brought 6lack and Santi to the festival — celebrated the soft opening of their new flagship clothing store software by Love Renaissance in Accra, which includes an exclusive collection of wearable products, some from local Ghanian brands. The opening was personal for LVRN co-founder Justice Baiden, who spent part of his childhood in Ghana.
That evening, Audiomack sponsored a special party at Accra’s exclusive Twist nightclub with frequent WizKid collaborator DJ Tunez providing the music. Among other notables, Nigerian artist D’banj and friends rubbed shoulders with executives including Hitco Entertainment’s Chayce Cheatam, Motown Records’ Tomeka Kolleh, Snapchat’s Trisha Nicolas and Airbnb’s Charles Kuykendoll. The raucous party reportedly went until 7 a.m.
Closing out the month, year and decade in Accra on Dec. 31 was the Sony Music & Friends event (in conjunction with Melanin Unscripted), which kicked off at The Woods with a panel featuring RCA/Keep Cool executive Tunji Balogun, IJEOMA founder Dimplez Ijeoma, Trace marketing head Lanre Masha, Ghanian singer-songwriter Amaarae, ALU Education’s Danai Mavunga, music journalist Stephanie Smith-Strickland and Ghanian filmmaker David Nicol-sey. Later that evening, a New Year’s Eve celebration was attended by a who’s who of record and media executives including Columbia Records co-head, urban music Phylicia Fant; Viacom’s Maya Peterson; and Hitco’s Chayce Cheatham.
On New Year’s Day, a morning prayer led by WME chief marketing officer Bozoma St. John was followed by breakfast on the beach, while later in the day Audiomack co-hosted a Women’s Empowerment Brunch attended by Atlantic Records senior director of marketing Brianna Agyemang, Epic Records senior director of publicity Ayanna Wilks and Audiomack’s David Ponte, among others.
African music acts bag nominations for Nickelodeon’s Kids’ Choice Awards
A selection of African music stars have been nominated for the Nickelodeon’s Kids’ Choice Awards 2020, billed to take place in Inglewood, California on 22 March.
Kenyan singer and songwriter Patricia Kihoro.
The nominations are for awards from Nickelodeon’s international network. Nominations in the Favourite African Star category are Teni (Nigeria), Patricia Kihoro (Kenya), Sho Madjozi (South Africa) and Shekinnah (South Africa). Meanwhile, DJ Cuppy (Nigeria), Anne Kansiime (Uganda), Chané Grobler (South Africa) and Prev Reddy (South Africa) are nominated in the Favourite African Social Media Star category.
The event, which will be streamed on social media and on Nickelodeon television channels, is to be hosted by US rapper, Chance The Rapper.
Monde Twala, ViacomCBS Networks Africa senior vice president and general manager, said: “Nickelodeon is a booming success around the continent and kids all over the globe are super excited about this year’s KCA’s.” He continued, “We would like to congratulate all of this year’s nominees who are representing Africa at this global event. Viewers can expect lots of fun, slime and laughter from 2020 Kids’ Choice Awards.”
Nominated alongside the African stars at the 33rd edition of the award ceremony are Beyoncé, Will Smith, Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, Kelvin Hart, Dwayne Johnson, Angelina Jolie, Lil Nas X and others.
Nigerian music star Davido was nominated alongside David Guetta and other artists in the Favourite Global Music Star category in the 2019 edition of the KCAs, while Adesua Etomi-Wellington and IK Osakioduwa bagged nominations in the Favourite African Star category.
Nickelodeon primarily airs programming aimed at children, pre-teens and young teenagers, including animated series such as SpongeBob SquarePants, The Casagrandes, The Loud House, It’s Pony and several others. The cable channel was first aired on 1 December 1977 and it is one of the major global entertainment brands for young audiences.
Brit Awards 2020 winners list: full results and all the nominees
South London rappers Stormzy and Dave and pop star Mabel have won the three biggest gongs at the Brit Awards 2020.
Stormzy, who became the first black, British solo artist to headline Glastonbury last summer and won the 2018 Brit Award for Best Album with his debut Gang Signs & Prayer, took home Best Male Solo Artist, beating ex One-Directioner Harry Styles and singer songwriter Lewis Capaldi.
Dave, who has been compared to a UK Kendrick Lamar with his “socially conscious” lyricism, won Best Album of the Year for his debut Psychodrama, which, framed as a therapy session (Psychodrama is a particular form of active therapy given to prisoners), included the song Black, a meditation on what it is to be black and British, and Lesley, about a woman suffering from an abusive relationship.
The album debuted at number one when it was released last March, and won the 2019 Mercury Prize.
Mabel, daughter of Neneh Cherry, was the only UK female musician nominated in the gender neutral categories, and won Best Female Solo Artist, while losing Best New Artist to Lewis Capaldi. Highlighting the heavily male dominated UK charts, Mabel, who released her debut album High Expectations last sumer, was the only British female artist to feature in the top 40 singles in the UK last year.
Meanwhile 18-year-old musician of the moment Billie Eilish, who tonight performed her just-released Bond theme for No Time to Die, became this year’s Best International Female, beating Lizzo and Ariana Grande.
Here is the list of nominees and winners in full:
The 2020 Female Solo Artist, in association with Amazon Music
Mabel – WINNER
The 2020 Male Solo Artist, in association with Amazon Music
Stormzy – WINNER
The 2020 Mastercard Album Of The Year
Dave: Psychodrama – WINNER
Harry Styles: Fine Line
Lewis Capaldi: Divinely Uninspired to a Hellish Extent
Michael Kiwanuka: Kiwanuka
Stormzy: Heavy Is The Head
The 2020 Best New Artist
Lewis Capaldi – WINNER
The 2020 Best Group
Bring Me The Horizon
Foals – WINNER
The 2020 International Female Solo Artist
Billie Eilish – WINNER
Lana Del Rey
The 2020 International Male Solo Artist
Tyler, the Creator – WINNER
The 2020 Song of the Year
AJ Tracey – Ladbroke Grove
Calvin Harris and Rag’n’Bone Man – Giant
Dave feat. Burna Boy – Location
Ed Sheeran feat. Justin Bieber – I Don’t Care
Lewis Capaldi – Someone You Loved – WINNER
Mabel – Don’t Call Me Up
Mark Ronson feat. Miley Cyrus – Nothing Breaks Like a Heart
Sam Smith feat. Normani – Dancing With A Stranger
Stormzy – Vossi Bop
Tom Walker – Just You and I
Producer of The Year
Fred again… – WINNER
Celeste – WINNER
Burna Boy Applauds Brits Awards Focus on African music
Nigeria music superstar and Grammy award nominee, Burna Boy says it felt “great” to be recognised at the Brit Awards, and to see a rise in focus on African music.
The singer was nominated for the International Male Solo Award, as well as Song of The Year for ‘Location’ with rapper Dave but lost out on both categories.
The singer also lost out on the Grammy Award last month to Angelique Kidjoe.
Why Sauti za Busara is more than just a music festival
Sauti za Busara, one of Africa’s leading festivals kicked off yesterday, February 13, at the Old Fort, Stone Town with a wide array of artistes from across the African Continent.
Now in its 17th edition, the Busara fest which will be staged for four days with a climax on Feb 16 promises great entertainment for revellers hailing from all corners of the world.
Apart from very few artistes who have performed on this stage before such as Siti & the Band, most of the other 43 groups will be performing at Sauti za Busara, Zanzibar for their first time.
As has been the norm in past years, the festival kicked off at Mapinduzi Square (Kisonge) with the Carnival Parade that has become one of its greatest attractions.
Speaking to The Beat on Thursday, February 13, festival director Yusuf Mahmoud called on Tanzanians and visitors who have arrived from all corners of the world to join in numbers to witness and participate in this unique spectacle.
“We’ve kicked off a unique and special time in the year when Zanzibar hosts four days and nights of non-stop African music under African skies. The festival has three stages with 100 per cent live music for everyone, including free performances every day at Forodhani Gardens,” said Yusuf Mahmoud.
The attendance which is estimated at 27,000 people over four days has a positive effect on the local businesses around Zanzibar as the festival injects some $10 million into the economy.
“The impact is clear for everyone to see; almost all hotels in Stone Town and other parts of Zanzibar are fully booked during festival week,” Mahmoud said.
The festival is set to pay tribute to some of the recently departed African stars who left their mark on the world music industry.
“As we celebrate the rhythms and vitality of African music, we also acknowledge the enormous contribution made by figures who departed this world during the past 12 months,” said Yusuf Mahmoud.
He added: “People like Ruge Mutahaba, who was one of the founding members of this festival and Mzee Makame Faki Makame who left us most recently; we remember them with respect.” Sauti za Busara 2020 runs under a strong campaign theme ‘Raise your Voice, Say No to Sexual Harassment’; a vice that continues to cripple the music industry.
“Many female artistes in Africa and beyond struggle under the weight of sexual harassment in an industry that remains male-dominated. The victims of these injustices are often unable to speak out because the consequences for their careers or personal lives can be devastating,” said Yusuf Mahmoud.
He added: In most cases faced with limited choices, victims end up leaving their place of work or the industry in general, yet there are very few consequences for the perpetrators.
The festival director was joined on the podium by Norwegian Ambassador, H.E. Elisabeth Jacobsen who expressed her excitement for attending the festival again and promised to stand together with organisers of Busara fest to support empowerment for women in the music industry and beyond.
She said, “Discrimination and harassment prevent girls and women from practicing their cultural rights, including freedom of expression whilst also hindering economic development.” Recognising Sauti za Busara as an important music ecosystem for the region, she urged public officers, businesses communities and donors in particular to “work together to promote access to cultural rights and empower women in the cultural sector”.
Source: the citizen.co tz
H.E.R. and Jill Scott to Perform at the NAACP Image Awards
JILL SCOTT AND H.E.R. SET TO PERFORM AT
51ST NAACP IMAGE AWARDS AIRING LIVE ON BET
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 22, 2020, AT 8 P.M. E.S.T./7 P.M. C.S.T.
PRESENTERS TO INCLUDE ALICIA KEYS, JAMIE FOXX, JANELLE MONAE, TIFFANY HADDISH, STERLING K. BROWN, MORGAN FREEMAN, LENA WAITHE AND MORE
NAACP Five-Time Image Award Recipient Anthony Anderson Returns As Host
The NAACP announced Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriters Jill Scott and H.E.R., along with Skip Marley, will perform on the 51st NAACP Image Awards special airing LIVE on BET on Saturday, February 22, 2020, at 8pm/7c from Pasadena, California. The star-studded night will also feature appearances by Alicia Keys, Brie Larson, Dave Bautista, Evan Alex, Jamie Foxx, Janelle Monae, JB Smoove, Jodie Turner-Smith, Lena Waithe, Leslie Odom Jr., Michael B. Jordan, Morgan Freeman, Octavia Spencer, Robin Thede, Ryan Michelle Bathe, Shahadi Wright Joseph, Sterling K. Brown, Tamron Hall, Tiffany Haddish and Winston Duke. Five-time NAACP Image Award-winner Anthony Anderson will return as host of this year’s awards program, marking his seventh consecutive year in the role.
Netflix has 42 total nominations, leading the television categories with 30, with an additional 12 in the motion picture categories. RCA Records leads in the music recording categories with 14, followed by Columbia Records and BMG with seven each. Universal Pictures leads the motion picture categories with 15 nominations, and Penguin Random House has eight nominations followed by HarperCollins with four in the literary categories.
Winners at the 51st NAACP Image Awards will be revealed during the LIVE TV special airing for the first time on BET.
As previously announced, global music and fashion icon, business entrepreneur and philanthropist Rihanna will receive the President’s Award, and U.S. Congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis (D-GA) will receive the NAACP Chairman’s Award during the ceremony.
The NAACP Image Awards is the pre-eminent multicultural awards show, from an African-American point of view. It celebrates the accomplishments of people of color in the fields of television, music, literature and film, and also honors individuals or groups who promote social justice through creative endeavors.
The 51st NAACP Image Awards is produced by Hudlin Entertainment and The Gurin Company. Executive Producers Reggie Hudlin and Phil Gurin, Co-Executive Producer Byron Phillips and Producer Robin Reinhardt.
Modern African Singer Fatoumata Diawara Plays Her First-Ever Cleveland Concert
Modern African singer and dancer Fatoumata Diawara says the negativity in the world at the moment makes her think of her current tour as an antidote to the bad news we hear every day.
“At this time, people are a little depressed because of all the information in the world, but after the show, they’re like, ‘Wow,’” says an exuberant Diawara via phone from a tour stop in Italy. She makes her first-ever appearance in Cleveland at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 26, at the Cleveland Museum of Art. “I’m happy because this is how I see the music. It’s supposed to make people happy, and it’s working now. People talk about my smiling. It’s something totally natural to me. I smile and welcome [my audience] because you are you, and I am me, and we are one. [My approach] just says, ‘I love you guys.’”
Born on the Ivory Coast, Diawara grew up in Mali and began to absorb the country’s musical traditions at an early age.
“The culture of Mali is totally different to the Ivory Coast culture,” she explains. “It’s super-diverse and very spiritual. We are still connected to our traditional instruments, and we respect them. I’m very proud of that. That’s what I bring to my show. It’s like when you listen to the sitar, and it takes you to some place you have never been. You know it comes from somewhere you don’t know about it. It makes you curious, so you want to know more about it.”
Originally, Diawara wanted to act and moved to France to try to find movie roles. That turned out to be a good decision, and she got a part in the 1999 feature film Genesis and in the musical Kirikou et Karaba.
“I continue to be an actress. I really love it,” she says. “But music is really me. It’s my opinion about the world and what’s going on. It’s about my generation and about my feeling about women. It’s really personal. I love acting because you can transport yourself to be somebody else. You can be crazy, and you can smoke and do stuff you don’t normally do in normal life, and I love that too.”
Diawara started putting out records in 2011, and she says the transition from collaborating with other artists to making her own album was a seamless one.
“Before I made my first record, I had collaborated with people before that,” she says. “I was doing a lot of collaboration with a lot of people. I was feeling good, and it was natural and normal [to go into the studio]. It’s a language to speak in music.”
For her latest album, 2018’s Fenfo (Something to Say), she expands her musical range. Bass- and drum-driven grooves propel songs such as “Kokoro” and “Ou Y’an Ye,” and Diawara capably adopts a somber tone for ballads such as “Mama” and “Takamba.”
“I’m very open with the music,” says Diawara. “My collaborations weren’t just Mali collaborations. I played with other artists. I played with jazz musicians. I try to bring all those experiences to my music — jazz, folk and reggae. I’m experimenting with all these styles. I just trying to adapt each record and the spirit of the music to nowadays. Music is going this way. It’s something totally natural.”
Because she was on the road for such long stretches, Diawara recorded the album at many different studios.
“I was on tour when I was recording,” she says. “I really like being on stage. It’s one of my favorite things. So when I had an inspiration, I would say to my manager, ‘Let’s go now.’ We were looking for places before the soundcheck to see where I could go to record. It was like a pregnancy. I would tell him, ‘Now, now.’ When I ask him to go, he knows we have to go.”
With the album’s opening song “Nterini,” a track that features a bluesy electric guitar riff, Diawara makes a statement about the global migrant crisis.
“It means ‘My Friend,’” she says of the track. “It’s about how we can try to respect all these people who are traveling from the boats. I want people to know that you weren’t born a migrant. You become a migrant, and it’s people who make them a migrant. They should not lose their dignity because of this. They deserve something more than this. We drink coffee, and we have families who love us. People should know this. The song is about how to respect migrant people. It’s important. Behind this, there is a lot of love and people can feel that. I want to speak to love and nothing else. Just peace and love.”
While it still features traditional instrumentation, the punchy “Bonya” comes across as a significant departure on the album.
“It’s a pop song,” she explains. “When my manager listened to this, he asked, ‘Where did you get this? It’s so different. Did you transport yourself?’ My songs are so different, but it comes naturally. Music is music. There is no boundary and no nationality. It’s just one family. You respect me, and I’ll respect you. The song is about how to respect each other. I’m a human being. Let’s stop making each other suffer for nothing. We should not suffer for nothing.”
Diawara continues to collaborate with musicians outside of the African music scene. “Ultimatum,” a song she did with the electronic dance music act Disclosure, shows her range.
“They are big friends of mine,” she says. “They listened to my music and called me to make a collaboration with them. How could I say no? I love those guys. It was my pleasure. This summer, we want to do some shows together.”
For the live show, Diawara performs with a backing band that she refers to as “family.”
“We spend a lot of time together,” she says. “ We love each other. We are super excited to go on tour. They are my second family. We play with a lot of energy because I like dancing. It’s one my passions. We play and I just dance and sing.”
Call for applications: Midem music conference in France.
IMEXSA seeks to develop and grow music exporters in South Africa by identifying trade opportunities and assisting companies to take advantage of those opportunities.
Midem, which is an annual international music-business event – and which will host the third edition of the African Music Forum in Cape Town and Nigeria on 25 and 28 February.- supports the global music ecosystem by connecting key players in the music industry. The conference will feature musicians, producers, agents, managers, lawyers, executives and entrepreneurs, among many others.
The application process is being facilitated by the Gauteng Growth and Development Agency (GDDA) and is thus open to companies that have an operating presence in the Gauteng province.
Only flights, airport transfer, accommodation including breakfast, exhibition costs and conference registrations will be paid for the successful applicants. Other expenses will be incurred by the particiapnts.
How to apply
Interested applicants should download the Emerging Exporters application documents. The application deadline is 20 February (midnight).
For more information and the application forms visit IMEXSA’s official website.
Olamide & Fireboy DML To Drop New Albums
Sensational rapper, Olamide has revealed that he and fellow YBNL act Fireboy would be dropping new albums soon.
The rapper recently signed a joint venture deal with American record label, Empire Distribution and it appears the rapper and Fireboy DML are gearing up to hit the studio for another album.
Olamide who just dropped his 9th body of work, “999” took to his Twitter page to announce that he and the ‘Jealous” singer would be dropping new albums this year which would serve as their first projects with the record label. He wrote “Time to get to work and serve you guys new Baddo album and new Fireboy album who’s ready? #YBNLEMPIRE”
2020 is about to get lit!
See the tweet below:
“Time to get to work and serve you guys new Baddo album and new Fireboy album who’s ready ? #YBNLEMPIRE”
Q&A with award-winning author Nthikeng Mohlele
Many people tend to give books, particularly novels, a great deal of status at the expense of other forms of storytelling. Film, music and stories told among families and friends tend to get diminished. How important is it that we consider and acknowledge the power of storytelling in its fullest sense?
It is very important. Varied artistic forms and mediums trigger and respond to particular social stimuli. I view art as an integrated whole, as cyclical, intertextual and interdependent. There is a reason there are cinematographers, pianists, composers, directors, painters, actors and so on – to illuminate and engage with different aspects of life and living.
What work by local storytellers do you find exciting at the moment?
I generally don’t get excited by art works. I get moved, I respect them. We are living in an undeclared artistic renaissance at present, so there are vast pickings across artistic disciplines. Particularity is often short-sighted.
Access to mobile phones is booming on our continent. You’ve even written your books using your phone. Do you think there’s an under-explored local market for mobile stories – podcast instalments of novels read by authors, or stories read on mobile as opposed to Kindle?
I am old school in this regard. I much prefer the physical book. This doesn’t mean I don’t engage with technology or content online, but that one derives sensory pleasure from the scent and ‘passive’ beauty and potency of books.
Do you feel very strongly about your novels remaining true to how you wrote them, or would you be open to their translation even when you are not directly involved in the process?
Translation is a necessary blessing and evil. Painters have to live with paint spurts, dirty brushes. The beauty of art is also the fact that it births doubt, possessiveness, the emotive: all fickle obsessions. I don’t think creators of art can ever truly own their output in its totality. All art is, at some level, prone to triumphs and distortions of varied kinds.
Many people – for many reasons – aren’t able to read books as they are currently published. Would you ever consider recording your work as audio books?
I would not. I’m very particular about not overdoing anything, so I would leave such to other professionals.
African words can travel far easier than African bodies, though both you and your words have travelled quite far. What are some of the perspectives and stereotypes you’ve encountered around ideas of ‘African literature’ globally and at home?
Even with the best goodwill and professional etiquette, there are selected rotten apples that somehow believe Africans cannot be smart, and are shocked to realise how little they themselves know about anything.
What advice or observations would you give to young people who love storytelling, but aren’t encouraged to create their art? To create. Simply put one foot in front of the other. Put in the work and time in developing a craft. Seconds. Months. Years. Decades.
Reading and telling stories with your children is a powerful gift. It builds knowledge, language, imagination and school success.
For more information about the Nal’ibali campaign or to access childrens’ stories in a range of SA languages, visit www.nalibali.org.