The Grammy’s is the only peer-recognised music award and is the industry’s highest honour. This means it is a thing of pride to see your nation have a handful of select individuals win the award. However, after the 65th Annual Grammy Awards, there was a lot of misinformation flying around because most Nigerians were unaware that Nigerians have been winning Grammy Awards as early as 1986.
To clear all the misconceptions, here is the list of Nigerians who have won a Grammy Award from inception till date.
1. Sade Adu
Sade Adu is the first Nigerian to win a Grammy Award. While she wasn’t the first Nigerian to be nominated (that was King Sunny Ade), her win has made her first on this list. She is a Nigerian-British singer recognised as an influence on the contemporary music industry.
She won her first Grammy in 1986 for Best New Artist. In 1994, she won a second Grammy Award with ‘No Ordinary Love’ for the award category, Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocal.
Sade Adu got her third Grammy in 2002 with ‘Lovers Rock” in Best Pop Vocal Album and her fourth award in 2011 with ‘Soldier of Love’ for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocal.
Henry Olusegun Adeola Samuel, known as Seal, is also a Nigerian-British singer and songwriter who won a Grammy award. He has sold more than 20 million records worldwide for two of his hit songs, ‘Crazy’ and ‘Killer’.
Seal’s most popular song, ‘Kiss from a Rose‘ won him three Grammy Awards in 1996. The categories were Best Male Pop Vocal Performance, Song Of The Year and Record Of The Year. In 2011, he won his fourth Grammy award with ‘Imagine’ for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals.
3. Burna Boy
Damini Ebunoluwa Ogulu, AKA Burna Boy, rose to fame in 2012 as the lead single, ‘Like to Party’, was released.
In 2020, he joined other Nigerians, in the Grammy Award hall of fame, when his album, ‘Twice as Tall’ won the Best World Music Album.
Hakeem Temidayo Seriki, AKA Chamillionaire, was born to a Nigerian father in Washington in 1979. Hence, he joins our list of Nigerians who have won a Grammy award. He won a Grammy in 2006 for his song “Ridin” under the category, Best Rap Performance By A Duo Or Group.
5. Sikiru Adepoju
Sikiru Adepoju, born in 1950, is a Nigerian percussionist and recording artist, who is involved in traditional African and world music. He is, in particular, a master of the talking drum, although he plays other instruments.
He won a Grammy Award in 2008 for Best Contemporary World Music Album with the ‘Global Drum Project ‘.
6. Kevin Olusola
Kevin Olusola is a Nigerian-American musician, beatboxer, cellist, rapper, record producer, singer, and songwriter. His most famous role is as the beatboxer of the vocal band Pentatonix. As a significant participant in Pentatonix, he is credited with the three awards the band has won.
In 2014, Pentatonix won a Grammy in the Best Instrumental Arrangement category for their song, ‘Daft Punk’, a medley of songs by Daft Punk. In 2015, 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. In 2016, Pentatonix won a Grammy in the “Best Country duo/group performance” category for Jolene”, which featured Dolly Parton.
Iconic singer and songwriter Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun, popularly known as Wizkid, won his first Grammy award after featuring in Beyoncé’s Brown Skin Girl Video.
They won the Best Music Video category in the 2021 Grammy awards.
Temilade Openiyi, AKA Tems, became popular after being featured on Wizkid’s single, “Essence”, which also earned her a Grammy nomination. In 2022, Tems’ vocals from her song “Higher” was used by Future on his single “Wait for U”, which led to her being credited as a featured artist alongside Drake on the song. It debuted atop the Billboard Hot 100, making her the first African artist to debut at number one and the second Nigerian artist to top the chart. The feature earned her her first Grammy Award in 2023 for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration.
9. Cynthia Erivo
Cynthia Onyedinmanasu Chinasaokwu Erivo is a Nigerian-British actress, singer, and songwriter born in 1987. She is known for her performance as Celie in the Broadway revival of ‘The Color Purple’. Her performance won her the Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album in 2016.
10. Jenn Nkiru
Jenn Nkiru is also a Grammy Award winner, courtesy of Brown Skin Girl. She is a British-Nigerian filmmaker. The “Brown Skin Girl” video was co-directed by her. Nkiru first worked with Beyonce in 2018 as the second unit director of Ricky Saiz’s video for Beyoncé and Jay-Z, “Apeshit”. In 2020, Nkiru handled the video for Beyonce’s Ivy Park fashion line launch.
While it’s common to assume that only two or three Nigerian artists have won the most coveted award in the global music industry, it’s clear there are many more. As more Grammys are given in the coming years, this list will most likely grow to accommodate more Nigerian talents.