South African pop sensation Tyla made history on Sunday night, winning the first-ever Grammy award for Best African Music Performance.
Tyla took home the honor for her hit single “Water” at the 2024 Grammy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles. This new category recognizes outstanding musical achievement in African music.
Tyla was up against major contenders from the Afrobeats scene, including Nigerian stars Burna Boy, Davido, Asake, Olamide and Ayra Starr. Fellow South African Musa Keys was also nominated for his collaboration with Davido.
But Tyla emerged victorious for her breakout crossover hit “Water,” which sparked a viral TikTok dance challenge last year. The anthemic song landed her on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for the first time in over 50 years for a South African solo artist.
“What? Oh my gosh, guys, this is crazy! I never thought I’d say I won a Grammy at 22 years old,” she said in her acceptance speech. “If you don’t know me, my name is Tyla and I’m from South Africa, and last year God decided to change my whole life, thank you so much to God, to my team, my family.
“I know my mum is crying somewhere in here. Thank you to The Recording Academy for this category. It’s so important. I know I’m forgetting some things, but I won a Grammy!”
“Water,” which fuses pop and African house music styles, sparked a viral TikTok dance challenge last year. The catchy track became Tyla’s breakthrough hit, landing her on the Billboard Hot 100 chart – a first for a South African solo artist in over 50 years.
The anthemic song also topped Rolling Stone’s list of the 40 best afropop songs of 2023. Water also crowned the Rolling Stone 2023 list of 40 best afropop songs and has been nominated for Best International Song at the 2024 Brit Awards.
Backstage, Tyla elaborated on what the award meant for her.
“It means so much,” she said. “I’ve always been an advocate for African music. I love African music. It’s the music that I make. It’s the music that I listen to all the time and I’ve believed in it for so long. So, I’m just happy that it’s getting its recognition.”
At just 22 years old, her career is sure to continue rising on the global stage.