Toumani and Sidiki, Kidjo and Kellerman up for 2015 Grammys

Malian father and son duo Toumani and Sidiki Diabaté, Angélique Kidjo from Benin and South African flautist Wouter Kellerman are on the list of nominees for the 57th annual Grammy Awards, to be held on 8 February at Staples Center in Los Angeles, USA.

Toumani and Sidiki Diabaté. Photo: www.toumaniandsidiki.com
Toumani and Sidiki Diabaté. Photo: www.toumaniandsidiki.com

Toumani Diabaté and his son Sidiki son (who has the same name as his grandfather) are nominated in the category Best World Music Album for their album Toumani & Sidiki (World Circuit) and Angélique Kidjo for Eve (429 Records). Their competitors in this category are Wu Man, Luis Conte & Daniel Ho, for Our World In Song (Daniel Ho Creations & Wind Music), Sérgio Mendes for Magic (OKeh) and Anoushka Shankar for Traces Of You (Deutsche Grammophon).

Born in 1965 into a family of griots, Toumani is the son of Sidiki Diabate, recognized throughout West Africa to be the king of the kora. He started to learn to play from the age of 5 years. Toumani has already received this award in the past. His album In the Heart of the Moon won a Grammy for Best Traditional World Music Album in 2006. On 2011, he and the late Ali Farka Touré won the Grammy for Best Traditional Album for their album Ali and Toumani.

Angelique Kidjo is also is no stranger to the Grammy Awards. Her first nomination came as early as 1995, in the Best Music Video category. Nominated numerous times since then in the Best Contemporary World Music Album, she won the prestigious award for Djin Djin in 2008. Recognized for her diverse musical influences, the originality of his music videos and her humanitarian work, the BBC included Kidjo in its list of 50 icons of the African continent, and she is part of the list compiled by The Guardian of the 100 most influential women in the world.

Wouter Kellerman has been nominated for his album Winds of Samsara in the category Best New Age Album. The album was produced in collaboration with Indian composer, Ricky Kej. The project started as a tribute to Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi and ended up as a collaboration between South Africa and India featuring 120 musicians, recorded on five continents. Winds of Samsara reached number one on the Billboard New Age Album Charts in the US, a first for a South African musician.

Though typically relegated to ‘world music’ and ‘traditional’ categories, African musicians have fared reasonably well at the Grammies over the year.  At the 2014 ceremony, South Africans Ladysmith Black Mambazo them had won for their live disc, Singing For Peace Around The World for Best World Music Album. It was their fourth trophy, a record for a group or artist from the continent, after wins 1988 ('Best Traditional Folk Recording ), 2005 and 2009 (Best Traditional World Music Album) and well over 10 nominations over the past three decades. South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela was first nominated in 1968, finally winning the award in 2013 for Jabulani. His former wife Miriam Makeba was the first African to win the award, in 1966 for An Evening with Belafonte/Makeba in the category Best Folk Recording. Youssou N'Dour is to date the only Senegalese artist to win a Grammy Award. His album Egypt (Nonesuch, 2004) was awarded the trophy for Best World Music Album 'in February 2005. Nigerian artist Femi Kuti has been nominated four times between 2003 and 2013, but has never won.

The Grammy Awards or Grammys were created in 1958 and are held annualy in the USA by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences to honor the best artists and technicians in the field of music. Today they are considered the most prestigious awards in the world of music.

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