Uganda is a country with a rich musical heritage, but it has never been represented at the Grammy Awards, the most prestigious music awards in the world. That changed in 2022, when Eddy Kenzo, a singer and producer, became the first Uganda-based artist to earn a Grammy nomination for his song Gimme Love, featuring American Matt B. The song is nominated for Best Global Music Performance, a category that recognizes “an individual or group vocal or instrumental performance containing elements of international musical genres”.
Eddy Kenzo’s journey to the Grammys is nothing short of remarkable. He was born Edirisa Musuuza, but he does not know his exact date of birth. He lost his mother at the age of four and never knew his father. He spent most of his childhood living on the streets of Kampala, not knowing how to read or write. He often worried about when, or if, his next meal would come. He had a passion for soccer and music, but he had no formal education or training in either. He survived by hustling and performing at local events.
In 2008, he recorded his first single, Yanimba, which did not get much attention. He became famous in 2010 with his song Stamina, which was praised for its youthful energy and catchy chorus. He followed it up with other hits such as Sitya Loss, which went viral on YouTube thanks to a video featuring children dancing in a poor rural town. The video caught the attention of international celebrities such as Ellen DeGeneres and Puff Daddy, who shared it on their social media platforms. In 2015, Kenzo won a BET award as the viewers’ choice for best new international artist, becoming the first and only Ugandan to do so.
Since then, Kenzo has been invited to perform across the world, from Africa to Europe to America. He has collaborated with artists such as Kranium, Alaine, Mi Casa and Harmonize. He has also established his own record label, Big Talent Entertainment, and his own festival, Eddy Kenzo Festival, which attracts thousands of fans every year. He has also been involved in humanitarian causes, such as supporting street children and promoting education.
Kenzo’s Grammy nomination is a historic achievement for him and for Uganda. It is also a testament to his talent, resilience and hard work. He has overcome many challenges and obstacles to reach this level of success. He has also inspired many young people in Uganda and beyond to pursue their dreams and passions. As he told the BBC News Africa: “This is a very huge step for me, my family and the ghetto people, the hustlers, the people who come from nothing. It gives us a lot of hope that anything is possible.”
Kenzo is one of the four African artists nominated for the Grammys this year, along with Burna Boy and Wizkid from Nigeria and Aya Nakamura from Mali. According to the official website of the Grammys, there have been 14 Grammy winners from Africa since 1962, when Miriam Makeba won the first one for Best Folk Recording. The most recent African winner was Angelique Kidjo from Benin in 2020 for Best World Music Album.
The 64th Grammy Awards will take place on February 6th in Los Angeles. Kenzo will be competing against Arooj Aftab (Pakistan), Bombino (Niger), Ladysmith Black Mambazo (South Africa) and Tinariwen (Mali) for the Best Global Music Performance award. Whether he wins or not, he has already made history and brought pride and joy to Uganda and Africa.
We want to celebrate Kenzo today for being a super talented and youth-centered individual. You are truly a Rising African and an able role model for the new African. Rising Africa is a dynamic platform that highlights the remarkable achievements of Africans worldwide and provides up-to-date information on scholarships and sponsorships available to African youth. Our vision is to inspire and empower the next generation of African leaders by showcasing the diverse accomplishments and talents of Africans across different fields, including technology, business, arts and culture, and social activism.
Through our Success Stories portal, we celebrate Rising Africans of all ages and sectors who have risen above challenges and made impactful innovations. Our Wonder Kids section features young achievers aged 1-12, while the Super Teens category highlights those aged 13-19, and Young Achievers profiles those aged 20-30. We also have dedicated portals for Women in Africa and persons living with disabilities.
In addition to celebrating African achievement, our Opportunities portal connects African youth to the latest sponsorship, scholarship, awards, and other life-changing opportunities. By providing access to these opportunities, we aim to empower African youth to pursue their dreams and make a positive impact in their communities.
At Rising Africa, we believe in the limitless potential of Africans to create a prosperous future for the continent. Join us in celebrating African excellence and building a brighter future for Africa.
- Eddy Kenzo: Uganda’s first Grammy nominee – BBC News https://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-africa-64519560
- Humble Start for Kenzo, First Ugandan Nominated for Grammy – VOA Learning English https://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/humble-start-for-kenzo-first-ugandan-nominated-for-grammy-/6845738.html
- Eddy Kenzo confirmed as first Ugandan artiste to get Grammy nomination – Pulse https://www.pulse.ug/entertainment/music/eddy-kenzo-confirmed-as-first-ugandan-artiste-to-get-grammy-nomination/04yc1qk
- Uganda’s first Grammy nominee Eddy Kenzo gives hope that everyone can succeed – RFI https://www.rfi.fr/en/africa/20230205-uganda-s-first-grammy-nominee-eddy-kenzo-gives-hope-that-everyone-can-suceed
- List of African Grammy Award winners and nominees – Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_African_Grammy_Award_winners_and_nominees