Grammys rename ‘Best World Album’ to ‘Best Global Album’
Organizers of the prestigious Grammy Awards, the Recording Academy, has renamed the international category of ‘Best World Music Album’ to ‘Best Global Album to reportedly make it more modern and inclusive.
According to them, the name change was in line with being culturally sensitive to the modern world. This follows months after the Academy Awards, casually called the Oscars, renamed the international category ‘Best Foreign Language Film’ to ‘Best International Feature Film’.
“As we continue to embrace a truly global mindset, we update our language to reflect a more appropriate categorization that seeks to engage and celebrate the current scope of music from around the world,” the Recording Academy wrote in a public statement.
Known to be a historically white award show that consistently favours white musicians, the international category has consistently been dominated by nominees from Africa and those in the diaspora.
According to Pitchfork, an American online music publication, progressive artists, ethnomusicologists, and linguists from around the world were integral in the name change.
“While at first, this change may come across as arbitrary to some, language has always been a means of gatekeeping. The ‘world’ in this instance, meant that America was not a part of the rest of the world but in fact, superior to other countries. Furthermore, the former name weighted English music more thereby promoting colonialist sentiments,” Pitchfork stated.
Four-time Grammy award winner, Angelique Kidjo has always been vocal about the outdated categorisation of the awards show. In an interview with an online news platform, OkayAfrica, Kidjo, pushed back against the patronising attitudes embodied by the Grammys.
She emphasised that Africa is not a country and that African music is unique and distinct, having developed global music trends in the process.
According to Recording Academy, this new category recognises excellence in albums of world music, including recordings of international non-Western classical music, international non-American and non-British traditional folk music, international cross-cultural music based on the previously mentioned genres as well as international recordings of world beat, world jazz (with a higher percentage of the world than jazz music), world pop and cross-cultural music.
As experts pushed that albums of reggae, Latin or European pop music should not be eligible in this category but should be entered in other categories as appropriate, they agree that the ‘Best World Album’ has previously been won by Brazilian artistes five times –– more than any other nationality. South Africa has won twice with ensemble group Ladysmith Black Mambazo clinching wins in both 2014 and 2018. Beninese artiste, Angelique Kidjo has been nominated nine times and won four times.
Recall that this year, Kidjo went up against self-proclaimed African Giant Burna Boy and won. Kidjo then dedicated her ‘Best World Album’ to Burna Boy who she claimed had never left his Nigerian roots.