Get To Know The First-Ever Best Global Music Performance Nominees | 2022 GRAMMYs
Editor's Note: The 2022 GRAMMYs Awards show, officially known as the 64th GRAMMY Awards, has been rescheduled to Sunday, April 3, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The below article was updated on Tuesday, Jan. 18, to reflect the new show date and location.
Earlier this year, The Recording Academy announced the addition of two new categories for the 2022 GRAMMY Awards, including Best Global Music Performance. Part of the Global Music Field — which previously only included an album category — the honor will recognize a song by a global artist.
This year's nominees all hail from Africa and Asia, with four of the artists representing Nigeria (Burna Boy, Femi Kuti, Wizkid and Tems). Chinese-American cellist Yo-Yo Ma's collaboration with Benin's Angelique Kidjo marks a cross-continental nomination, and Arooj Aftab's "Mohabbat" helped her become Pakistan's first female GRAMMY nominee.
We'll find out who will be the very first Best Global Music Performance winner when the 64th GRAMMY Awards air on CBS on Jan. 31, 2022. Until then, learn more about this year's nominees below.
"Mohabbat" — Arooj Aftab
In July, the beautifully haunting "Mohabbat" by Pakistan-born, Brooklyn-based singer and composer Arooj Aftab appeared on former President Barack Obama's 2021 summer playlist. The inclusion was a major acknowledgement for an artist with an incredible future.
Stretching over seven spellbinding minutes, "Mohabbat" is an interpretation of a ghazal, a form of South Asian poetry and music that was ever-present in her life growing up in Pakistan. Aftab's version, which appears on her celebrated 2021 album Vulture Prince, came out of a period of all-consuming grief.
The song's light instrumentation — provided by seasoned players like Jamey Haddad on percussion and Gyan Riley on guitar — ably supports Aftab's affecting voice, which first lit up the internet on her acoustic cover of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" in 2007.
"Do Yourself" — Angelique Kidjo & Burna Boy
Beninese singer-songwriter Angelique Kidjo and Nigerian singer/rapper Burna Boy are two artists united in a mission to bring the sounds of Africa to the world. Their cross-generational collaboration, "Do Yourself," from Kidjo's 2021 album, Mother Nature (which also received a nomination for Best Global Music Album), is a true meeting of minds.
Kidjo is a four-time GRAMMY winner, most recently for her 2019 album, Celia. She and Burna Boy — who celebrated his first win last year for his album Twice As Tall — come together on 'Do Yourself' over a breezy Afropop beat that suits both vocal styles.
Kidjo and Burna Boy trade off verses in their native languages (Fon and Yoruba, respectively), also singing some lines in English. “You for keep am real Africa/ They don't know how it feels to be Africa-na-na,” Burna Boy declares.
The sentiment is similar to the message he delivered in his acceptance speech last year: "This should be a lesson to every African out there: no matter where you are, no matter what you plan to do, you can achieve it."
"Pà Pá Pà" — Femi Kuti
Nigerian icon Femi Kuti is part of an incredible musical lineage that continues to this day. The son of legendary Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti, Femi played in his father's band Egypt 80 before going on to his own illustrious career, releasing music across four decades.
"Pà Pá Pà" is a direct and rousing call to arms that sees Kuti appealing to his fellow countrymen and women to hold the ruling class in Nigeria to account. True to his Afrobeat roots, however, the message is delivered over rhythms you can dance to.
"Pà Pá Pà" is the opening song on Legacy+, Kuti's joint album alongside his equally prodigious son Made Kuti. Though Made wasn’t part of "Pà Pá Pà,” he still earned a GRAMMY nomination this year: Legacy+ is up for Best Global Music Album.
"Blewu" — Yo-Yo Ma & Angelique Kidjo
In the uncertain beginnings of the COVID-19 pandemic, world-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma launched his #SongsOfComfort series, recording videos of himself playing alongside musicians he admired, each performing in their own homes. "In these days of anxiety, I wanted to find a way to continue to share some of the music that gives me comfort," he wrote in an Instagram post.
Ma approached one of his favorite performers, Beninese singer-songwriter Angelique Kidjo, to record a version of late Togolese singer Bella Bellow's heart-wrenching "Blewu." Kidjo has performed the song around the world, including in 2018 in front of world leaders at Paris’ Arc De Triomphe to honor fallen African soldiers on Armistice Day. Kidjo's performance alongside Yo-Yo Ma is far more intimate, but no less powerful.
The singer (who is nominated twice in the inaugural Best Global Music Performance category) dedicated "Blewu" to "all the people out there who are making our life in confinement possible." As Ma added himself, "This is for those we have lost and for those who risk their lives so we don’t lose more."
"Essence" — Wizkid Featuring Tems
While Nigerian superstar Wizkid is no stranger to making summer anthems — you may remember him from Drake’s 2016 worldwide smash “One Dance” — he served up another global hit with "Essence." Featuring fellow Nigerian singer Tems, the song was an immediate standout on Wizkid's fourth studio album, Made In Lagos, which also earned the singer/rapper a nomination for Best Global Music Album this year.
A perfect meeting of Afropop and R&B, "Essence" sees Wizkid and Tems flirtatiously yearning for each other’s affection. "You don't need no other body," Tems sings on the hook; "No one loves you like this/ No one wants you the same way," Wizkid follows on the bridge.
Before it was even released as an official single, "Essence" caught the attention of Barack Obama, who included it on his list of favorite songs from 2020. The song enjoyed a new surge in 2021, including a remix featuring silky vocals from Justin Bieber, who called the original his "song of the summer."