These days, award shows have proven not to be a viable metric for determining value. In the past, many of the popular award shows across music and entertainment such as the Grammys, the Golden Globes, and more, have been flagged for their corrupt and out-of-touch practices, particularly in grouping Black artists into stringent categories. Yet, we can’t deny that earning one still retains a certain honour that artists and music lovers alike revere. If anything, it shows artists defying the odds and breaking the glass ceilings set before them by an industry lacking in diversity.
The nominees for the 52nd NAACP Image Awards are finally in, and the Oustanding International Song category has some of the fiercest contenders in the game–albeit not the only. Buju Banton, Koffee, and Skip Marley have all been nominated for awards. While Davido and Tiwa Savage have both earned nominations with Tiwa Savage recording two nominations, one for the singer’s Sam Smith assisted single “Temptation” off her third studio album ‘Celia’ and her collaboration on Davido’s “Tanana”. While the winners won’t be announced till March 27 on BET, Savage’s record two nominations at this year’s event –alongside Buju Banton and Koffee – could suggest that 2021 is one of continued power for the African Bad Girl.
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Tiwa Savage has been one of Afropop’s most formidable superstars for nearly a decade, a feat made more remarkable when you consider the fact that she’s been operating on a level of reverence in the music industry that’s typically male-dominated. Over the years, the singer has been vocal on how women in music need to work ten times harder than their male counterparts to reach equal amounts of acclaim, and that often comes with a higher level of scrutiny because women aren’t allowed to be anything but excellent across the board.
She’s right, and a simple example is the post-album reception to ‘Celia’. Although her third studio album certainly stands out for its infectious buoyancy and meticulous craftsmanship, but still the project seemed to continually be left out of conversations when discussing the best albums that defined the past year. This is not to say the current Afropop albums making the list don’t deserve the acclaim – they definitely do, but so also does Tiwa Savage’s offering. ‘Celia’ is the singer’s most ambitious and experimental album yet, and it’s dedicated to the multiplicity of womanhood, named after her own mother, as Savage tries to reconcile the different parts of her life as a woman from motherhood, to friendships, dating, and love.
The singer herself echoed the slow reception to ‘Celia’ last year when the album was named as one of the Time’s Top 10 Albums of 2020 alongside Fiona Apple’s ‘Fetch the Bolt Cutters’ and ChloexHalle’s ‘Ungodly Hour’, notably the only Afropop album in the list. Savage rightly shut down her detractors at the time, affirming her decision to follow her heart and refocusing the message on working towards her next body of work. Safe to say that if it’s anything like ‘Celia’, Savage would claim residency atop or near the top of the forthcoming award shows and best albums list.
Back in August, we spoke about how the singer’s tracks “Dangerous Love” and “Koroba” were topping Nigeria’s charts on the Turntable Air charts. With ‘Celia’, Savage is once again vying for her rightful place as one of Afropop’s most decisive tastemakers, and she’s doing it all on her own terms. Her work consistently shows the central idea that women deserve to have fun, fall in and out of love, and generally have a life beyond conservative roles set up by society. We should be paying attention and celebrating Tiwa Savage’s current contributions to the growing Afropop genre, and notably counting her earned stripes when she makes award history in this way.
Whether you’re paying attention or not, Tiwa Savage is not waiting for anyone’s permission to share her most honest work, and the world is already taking note.
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Featured image credits: Instagram/tiwasavage