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Inaugural Trace Awards nominees; Nigeria leads with over 40 nods

Nigerian musicians lead the first ever Trace Awards with over 40 nominations in total, including multiple nods for Afrobeat superstars Davido, Wizkid, Burna Boy, Ayra Starr, WizKid, Tiwa Savage, Yemi Alade, Fireboy DML and Rema.

Music pay-TV channel Trace has revealed nominees for the first ever Trace Awards in Africa, a global live TV spectacular celebrating the creativity, talent and influence of African and Afro-inspired music and artists.

Taking place live on Monday, October 23 (2023) at the BK Arena, Kigali in Rwanda, the Trace Awards & Festival is presented by Visit Rwanda and Martell.

Olivier Laouchez, Chairman & Co-Founder, Trace congratulated all the nominees, saying: African and African diaspora artists are extraordinarily creative and dynamic. They represent a massive cultural force and deserve more global recognition and celebration. The Trace Awards’ nominations salute achievement and excellence from more than 150 performers, producers, DJs, writers, composers, directors, established artists and rising stars, and their management and labels. We congratulate all the nominees, most of whom will attend and perform in Kigali on 21 October. It will be an unmissable experience for lovers of African and Afro-inspired music.”

The entire African continent will be represented by crème de la crème musicians as they showcase the excellence and diversity of Afro-centric music in a variety of genres such as Afrobeat, Dancehall, Hip Hop, Afro-pop, Mbalax, Amapiano, Zouk, Kizomba, Genge, Coupé Décalé, Bongo Flava, Soukous, Gospel, Rap, Rai, Kompa, R&B, and Rumba.

Competing in 22 award categories are platinum-selling artists from more than thirty countries in Africa, South America, the Caribbean, the Indian Ocean and Europe including Algeria, Angola, Brazil, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Comoros, DRC, France, French Guiana, Gabon, Ghana, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Kenya, Madagascar, Martinique, Mayotte, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Nigeria, Reunion, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Tunisia, the UK and Uganda. The winners will take home one or more Trace Awards Trophies, a unique pieces of art designed by acclaimed Congolese sculptor and designer, Dora Prevost.

Leading the nominations are West African artists, particularly Nigerian artists, who underscore the global popularity of Nigerian Afrobeat with a whopping 40 plus nominations, including multiple nominations for multi Grammy-winners Burna Boy, fast-rising Ayra Starr, Davido, WizKid, Tiwa Savage, Yemi Alade, Fireboy DML and rapper/singer Rema.

South African artists are coming all strong with hip hop superstar and 2023 BET nominee K.O scoring an impressive three nominations including Best Male, Song of the Year and Best Collaboration. Also honoured are Musa Keys (Best Live, Best Collaboration), and Blxckie (Best Music Video), while Pabi Cooper squares up against a strong field in the Best Newcomer award category. Just over the border in Swaziland (nee South Africa), Uncle Waffles scores a well-deserved nomination in the Best DJ category.

The contribution of female artists is recognised in multiple categories including Best Female Artist, where Cape Verde’s Soraia Ramos is competing against Josey from the Ivory Coast, Senegal’s Viviane Chidid, Kenya’s Nadia Mukami and the double threat of Tiwa Savage and Arya Starr (Nigeria). 

The diversity of the African diasporas comes to the fore as seen with several nominations of some of the most acclaimed artists from France, Brazil, UK, The Caribbean and the Indian Ocean including Stormzy (UK), Booba and Aya Nakamura (France), Leo Santana (Brazil), Shenseea (Jamaica), Donovan BTS (Mauritius), Princess Lover and Kalash (Martinique), Bamby (Guyane) and Admiral T (Guadeloupe).

Africa’s enduring love of the ever-popular Gospel genre is well reflected in the Best Gospel Singer category, which sees Mzansi’s top seller Benjamin Dube going head-to-head with Kenya’s Janet Otienao, Uganda’s Levixone, KS Bloom from the Ivory Coast and Moses Bliss from Nigeria. 

In a fitting tribute to the host country for the inaugural Trace Awards, Rwandan musicians (Bruce Melodie, Kenny Sol, Ariel Wayz, Bwiza and Chriss Eazy) are leaving no stone unturned with nods for Best Rwandan Artist. Also representing the east of the continent, Tanzania’s Diamond Platnumz bagged several nominations, including the highly-contested Best Male category and Best Music Video, while Azawi, Lexivone and the Uganda Ghetto Kids are leading the way for Uganda.

Further north, Algeria’s Raja Meziane and Kader Japonais are going head to head with Tunisia’s Artmasta and Morocco’s Amira Zouhair, Dystinct and El Grande Toto for Best Artist – North Africa.

Francophone music and artists take their fair share of the accolades with 10 nominations including two nominations for Didi B from Ivory Coast as Best Male and Best Artist – Francophone, while Libianca from Cameroon earned two nominations, for Best Newcomer and Song of the Year, respectively. DRC’s Fally Ipupa also bagged two nominations: one for the Best Live (Global) and the other for Best Artist Africa – Francophone categories.

Portuguese-speaking artists from Lusophone Africa are making their presence felt with crucial nods in the Best Artist Africa category as seen with Lusophone for Gerilson Insrael and Perola from Angola, who are both pitted against Cape Verde’s Lisandro Cuxi and Soraia Ramos, as well as Plutonio (Mozambique).

Up and coming talents from across the continent are well represented too in the fiercely contested Best Newcomer Award, sponsored by Belaire, which sees popular Cameroonian artists, Libianca and Krys M, squaring up against Cote d’Ivoire’s Roselyne Layo, Azawi from Uganda, South Africa’s Pabi Cooper and Nigeria’s Nissi and Odumodublvck.

Targeted at lovers of African and Afro-inspired music and culture, the Trace Awards will broadcast live on October 21 on Trace TV, as well as radio and digital channels and on global streaming platforms, national terrestrial TV and satellite channels. The viewership and social interaction is expected to exceed 500 million fans in 190 countries.

Rwandan creativity and excellence are represented by the involvement of BK Arena, RwandAir and RBA as event partners of the Trace Awards and Festival

For a full list of nominations, click here

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