Its no news that the legendary Afrobeat singer, Femi Kuti lost for the fourth time in a row at the Grammy Awards this year. The Fela protege lost out on the ‘World Music’ category to tied winners, Gypsy Kings and Ladysmith Black Mambazo (If you missed it click here).
In a recent interview with Ecomium, Femi Kuti explained the reasons why he did not show up at the award ceremony and why his big sister, Yeni Kuti went in his place. He also disclosed with confidence that his album, No Place For My dream deserved to win but it came with extra ordinary measures he could not afford to meet up with. Read more of the interview below;
You just lost another chance to win the Grammy, how do you feel about that?
I don’t know why people feel so bad about it. I don’t take things like that to heart. I have seen so many things in my life. It is just an award. The nomination alone made my year, whether I won or not was secondary. I know what it takes to get a nomination. Thousands or entries went into the category and my album made the best four. It is a big deal. I cannot dictate to the Grammy where they would vote. I appreciate the recognition. The nomination proved that I am doing good. It is a great achievement, so why should I be sad. Where I am is not by luck, it’s hard work. I still do my six hours practice every day.
But your fans are sad about it.
It is understandable because if you listen to the album, No Place For My Dream, you will realize it is worth the award. The album deserved to win but I know what it takes to win. Grammy is very political, the voting process is complex. There was an argument last award where it was said some people were robbed. The person who won the Best World Music Album had to apologise later that, he is not supposed to win. A lot of voting are involved and if you play the political game very well you would win. From Lagos here, I don’t have the means to play that political game. I have no intention to play along. My record company doesn’t have the financial muscle to play the game, to put your album in every radio station in America, to make sure everybody who wants to vote listens to that album. It is very complex and if you don’t have what it takes to do all that, you stand no chance of winning. However, I won’t allow that to make me lose focus on why I started music. I have to move on. I am not heart-broken. It is not a love affair like my wife left me. On my Twitter, many people were upset I didn’t win. The Gipsy King were nominated six times before they won; the band from South Africa, they have been nominated about five times before they won. They have been winning in the traditional music category before it was abolished and they were moved to World Music category. None of them turned up for the award. They too were bitter that anytime they turned up they never won. It was their management that was at the awards. My music is political, I attack the government and it’s very difficult to get it across everywhere. I know what it takes to maintain the band. For 30 years now, we are going strong. Many people said I didn’t attend, it will cost me $4,000 to get me to the Grammy and imagine if I spent that and I didn’t win, that would have pained me. People were sad but the person involved is calm and refreshed. My problem now is how to do another album better than No Place For My Dream. It is a great album that is difficult to beat, and if I get nominated for the fifth time I would open a bottle of champagne and celebrate.
But you sponsored your sister, Yeni to the awards?
She was already going for the opening of a very big documentary in Salt Lake City, USA for my father. We were supposed to go together but we had an agreement, both of us must never leave the country at the same time. If I am away, she stays and vice versa. Before the Grammy, we had already delegated her to go and represent the family. I had no intention of going there. The duration is too long for me. I won’t be making money. So, I would rather be here to take care of my family, so it costs me nothing.
Do you think the Afrobeat legend was cheated at the Grammys?