The Rise of Nigeria’s Grammy Award Winners

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The Nigerian music industry is one to reckon with as it has continued to make not only Nigeria but also the African continent proud.

When it comes to music, Nigerian artists have been representing well on the global stage.

In the last decade, the music industry has experienced growth that saw many Nigerian artists being nominated for the Grammy awards which is the highest award recognition in the music industry.

Although Nigerians have always been on the nomination list for the Grammy in many decades past, the last decade has seen more Nigerians on the list.

This write-up will focus on Nigerian artists that have won Grammy awards and their rise to stardom.

Sade Audu

Born in Ibadan as Helen Folasade Adu in 1959 but professionally known as Sade Adu, the singer, songwriter cum actress grew up in Essex, England.

Sade Adu was not only the first female of Nigerian origin but also the first Nigerian to win a Grammy in 1986.

She then bagged another in 1994 and her third Grammy in 2002.

Her fourth Grammy Award was won in 2011 for her song, Soldier of Love, which was named the Best R&B Performance by a duo.


Tems is the latest winner at the just concluded Grammy awards. Her name is Temilade Openiyi, popularly known as Tems

Tems’ win was not only celebrated by Nigerians but it was like a glimpse of hope to other female musicians in Africa.

At the 65th Grammy award that took place on the 5th of February, Nigerian talented singer Tems won her first grammy alongside rappers Future and Drake for their hit song titled ‘Wait For U’. Under the category of the best Melodic Rap performance.

She rose to prominence after she was featured on Wizkid’s 2020 single titled “Essence.

Essence peaked at number nine on the Billboard Hot 100 chart following the release of the remix version with Justin Bieber.

The song earned her a Grammy Award nomination. That same year, she was featured on the song “Fountains” by Drake.

Burna Boy

Burner boy is another Nigerian musician that has made name for himself and also won a Grammy in 2021.

His win in 2021 was a remarkable one and a rekindled hope for him after he had lost in 2020 to Angelique Kidjo.

In 2021, his ‘Twice As Tall’ album won the Best World Music Album category.

Burna Boy came to limelight in 2012 after releasing “Like to Party”, the lead single from his debut studio album L.I.F.E.

In 2017, Burna Boy signed with Bad Habit/Atlantic Records in the United States and Warner Music Group internationally. His third studio album Outside in 2018 marked his major-label debut.


In 2021, Wizkid won his first Grammy Award for his collaboration with Beyonce’s ‘Brown Skin Girl video poker.

The celebrated Nigerian singer-star was credited as a producer and featured artiste on the album.

His rise to fame happened in 2009 when he signed a record deal with Banky W’s Empire Mates Entertainment, E.M.E.

He later rose to the limelight after releasing “Holla at Your Boy”, the lead single from his debut studio album, Superstar in 2011, which also spawned the singles “Tease Me/Bad Guys” and “Don’t Dull”.

Wizkid’s penetration and gaining international recognition was also connected to the fact that he features so many international artists like Drake, Chris Brown, Skeota etc.


He is a Nigerian-American rapper, Chamillionire, with the real name Hakim Temidayo Seriki.

Chamillionaire was born to a Muslim Nigerian father and an African-American Christian mother in Washington D.C. and moved to Houston, Texas at the age of four.

He clinched a Grammy in 2007 for his song, “Riddin’ under the Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group category.

The total number of nominations he received in 2007 was about 4, but he won one.

Kelvin Olusola

Kelvin is a Nigerian singer, rapper, beatboxer and cellist. He is a member of the Pentatonix music group and has won three Grammy awards

In 2015, Pentatonix won a Grammy in the “Best Arrangement, Instrumental or a cappella” category for their song “Daft Punk”, a medley of songs by Daft Punk.

In 2016, Pentatonix won a Grammy in the same category, this time for “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” from their “That’s Christmas to Me” album.

Finally, in 2017, Pentatonix won a Grammy in the “Best Country duo/group performance” category for “Jolene” which featured Dolly Parton.

Lekan Babalola

He is a Nigerian jazz percussionist and has won Grammy twice.

He won his first in 2006 and his second in 2009.

He began his professional career after joining a band called Samba Samba Band and later New York City-based Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers band, where he perfected playing the Bongo drums and performing jazz music.

Cynthia Erivo

Cynthia Erivo is a British-Nigerian actress, singer, and songwriter that bagged a Grammy for Best Musical Theatre Album in 2017.

She rose to fame in 2015 with her Broadway debut as Celie in The Colour Purple and won a Tony Award for her performance in 2016.

Erivo also received two Oscar nominations in 2020.


Seal is one of the Nigerian highest Grammy award holders, haven won four Grammys.

He is a British- Nigerian musician and songwriter born in 1963.

Though he is popularly known as Seal, his real name is Henry Olusegun Adeola Samuel.

He is best known for his 1994 hit song ‘Kiss from a Rose’.

He has 14 Grammy nominations to his name and has won four of these nominations.

His song, ‘Kiss From a Rose’ earned him three Grammy awards in 1996”.

The Award winner rose to fame with his eponymous debut album in 1991 and has since carved out a long and successful career as a singer and TV judge.

Sikiru Adepoju

He is a percussionist and recording artist that plays in the genres of traditional African music and world music. He also plays a variety of instruments and styles.

Sikiru Adepoju won his first Grammy Award for being a part of Mickey Hart’s Planet Drum group which won the award for Best Contemporary World Music Album in 1991.

In February 2009, the Nigerian drummer won his second Grammy as part of Mickey Hart’s Global Drum Project.

Because of how Nigerian musicians have been appreciated globally in recent times, there is no doubt to say that more Grammy award winners are going to emerge from this west African Country shortly.

Apart from these Nigerian winners of the Grammy awards, there are so many great musicians and artists that got nominated for these awards even though they never got to win them.

King Sunny Ade was the First Nigerian to be nominated for the Grammy awards in 1983. Femi Kuti has received four nominations and even Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi-Adichie has also been nominated for a Grammy when she featured on Beyonce’s album in 2015.





































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