Grammys Hero - ALO Magazine
The Recording Academy has embraced the Middle East and Africa in a brand new way: Global Expansion. The governing body behind the GRAMMY Awards has launched a new initiative to increase its reach and scale music creators at a global level. The Academy has inked new collaborative agreements with Middle Eastern and African Ministries of Cultures and key stakeholders to bolster the Academy’s presence and services in these quickly expanding music regions.

Courtesy of the Recording Academy® / photos by Amy Sussman

“This is exciting because music is one of humanity’s greatest natural resources,” said Harvey Mason jr., CEO of the Recording Academy. “It is critical that the people who dedicate themselves to creating music have support, resources and opportunities, no matter where they are from.”

The Academy is working with the Ministries of Culture in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Kenya, and Nigeria, the Department of Culture and Tourism in Abu Dhabi for the United Arab Emirates, the Rwanda Development Board, and the Ministry of Sports, Arts and Culture in South Africa. MOUs have additionally been signed with the Ivory Coast and Ghana.

For the past two years, the Academy’s leaders have traveled throughout these regions, participated in listening sessions, received high-level briefings, tours, demonstrations, and obtained insight directly from both the governmental ministries and music creators driving innovation in these markets.

“Abu Dhabi’s music scene is soaring, driven by the vibrancy of our youthful population, and strengthened by governmental commitment to infrastructure development, exemplified by existing and upcoming venues across the Emirate of Abu Dhabi,” says H.E. Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of the Department of Culture and Tourism, Abu Dhabi. “Additionally, investments in educational institutions such as Berklee Abu Dhabi and Bait al Oud Abu Dhabi, underscore our dedication to fostering local talent by providing them with comprehensive music theory education. As we embrace diverse genres emerging from our rich cultural heritage, we see a dynamic wave of creators and talents shaping our musical landscape. Today, we stand ready to collaborate with the Recording Academy to amplify our artists’ voices, celebrate our music, and propel MENA’s music industry to new heights.”

Among the ambitious goals and initiatives for the Academy’s expansion is championing creators through enhanced training with its online platform “GRAMMY GO” which promised to be specifically tailored to the needs of the music creators. Additionally, the Recording Academy has committed to producing original content that “celebrates the rich musical heritage and dynamic emerging scenes of Africa and the Middle East.” The long-term hope is to fuel the music economy by collaborating with partners to develop and strengthen the creative economy in Africa and the Middle East.

“We are excited to become a part of the global GRAMMYs family, working to unite a growing range of music and talent from around the world as we strive to develop an inclusive and sustainable industry which fosters a rich tapestry of music and talent from diverse corners of the globe,” Paul Pacifico, CEO, The Music Commission. “We eagerly anticipate the benefits we know this partnership will bring to our music community in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the opportunities it will deliver for Saudi music to take its place on the global stage and contribute to a more globally representative and vibrant music industry.”

This exploration into the Middle East and Africa is only the first phase of plans to support music creators abroad and comes the same year the Academy celebrates the 25th anniversary of the Latin GRAMMY Awards, and months after Seville hosted the Latin GRAMMY Awards, the first GRAMMY Awards show to be held overseas. Also, last year, the Recording Academy partnered with the U.S. State Department on an initiative to promote peace through music.


John Legend (right) with wife Chrissy Teigen (left) at the Academy Awards. Credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

“I’m excited to see the Recording Academy taking these meaningful steps to globalize our mission and reach,” says Grammy and Oscar winner John Legend. “Music knows no borders. It’s global and transcends cultural, political and language barriers. I’m so glad that the Recording Academy, the leading organization serving music creators, is evolving to be a more global organization.”