The Grammys are considering adding an Afrobeats category, the Associated Press reports. The proposal, first floated by the Recording Academy last year, would likely come from President and CEO Neil Portnow, a longtime music industry friend of President Obama.
According to Portnow, the idea originated with his conversation with Michelle Obama about her music career. “Michelle is great, she is great,” Portnow says. “When I asked if she would like to do a category honoring her, I was pretty surprised and blown away by her enthusiasm.”
The academy has been a proponent for the category since the late 1990s, but its introduction has always been held up as a long shot.
“With respect to categories that are about the cultures and the music of Africa, I would say that there isn’t a category in the Recording Academy’s Hall of Fame that’s as good as the Afro category,” Portnow says. “I’ve always believed that there is a place in the Hall of Fame for the music that originated in Africa.”
He says the Grammy’s record label owners and the Recording Academy are open to the idea.