YouTube has named 40 Black musicians across the world as part of its 2023 YouTube Black Voices Fund (YBVF). Out of these 40 voices, six are from Africa.
Launched in 2020, the Fund is part of YouTube's $100 million commitment to centre and amplify Black voices and perspectives on YouTube, alongside a commitment to doing better as a platform to protect Black creators, artists and users.
At the launch of the Fund, Malik Ducard, YouTube's Vice President of Content Partnerships disclosed that "over the next three years (2021-2023), this global fund will be used to acquire and produce YouTube Originals programming, focused on Black experiences around the world, and to directly support Black creators and artists so that they can thrive on YouTube."
The Class of 2023 will receive dedicated partner support from YouTube and seed funding invested into the development of their channels. These musicians will also participate in training and networking programs focused on production, fan engagement, and well-being.
Related Article: Meet the Africans in the YouTube Music Foundry Class of 2022
Who are the Africans in YBVF music class of 2023?
The six Africans on the list include Nigeria's Asake and BNXN, Gyakie, Kamo Mphela, MashBeatz and Ukweli.
Ahmed Ololade Asake known professionally as Asake is a fast-rising Nigerian singer and songwriter born in southwestern, Nigeria. Asake songs, e.g. Mr Money (Remix) ft. Zlatan & Peruzzi, become very popular and trendy online this year with a great number of streaming and downloads across streaming platforms including YouTube.
He hit the limelight with the release of his viral single, Lady which received massive responses from several online media and top celebrities. Asake was born in the late 1990s to Yoruba tribe parents. He hails from the Southwestern part of Nigeria.
The talented singer was brought up in Lagos State, where he had most of his childhood experience. Asake is in his 20s and still very much fresh in the Nigerian music scene.
He studied Theater & Performing arts at the esteemed Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, where he had his degree. Asake started his music career at a very tender age, he was always seen releasing a series of freestyles across all his social media platforms.
He won the City People Music Award for Best Collabo of the Year and Popular Song of the Year in 2020.
BNXN was born in Lagos, Nigeria. He is an Afro-fusion singer and songwriter. Formerly known as Buju, he grew up in Gbagada with his family. His love for music started when he was still in school. According to him, he would usually sing songs from artists like D’bang, P-Square, 9ice and Olu Maintain.
BNXN started writing music in junior secondary school in 2011. Then, he went with the stage name Drizzle. Many of his classmates and friends love hearing him sing and rap. Later in school, he joined the choir and also started performing in social activities. So he stopped rapping and took a break from music.
However, he started listening to songs by artists like Burna Boy, BNXN Banton, Damian Marley etc. BNXN later picked interest in music again in 2017 while still in university.
In February 2018, BNXN released his first song “Catch a Vibe”. Later, he dropped his second song “A Day in Lagos”, which gave him some level of recognition on Soundcloud and Twitter.
Jackline Acheampong (born 16 December 1999) known professionally as Gyakie is a Ghanaian afrobeat and afro singer. In 2019, Gyakie released her first single titled: "Love is Pretty" which paved way for another single, "Never Like This."
In August 2020, the "Forever" song from her five-track EP, titled "Seed" was her claim to fame enjoying airplay and leading charts in Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria. Gyakie's father is Nana Acheampong—a popular Ghanaian Highlife musician.
Gyakie was raised in Kumasi in the Ashanti Region of Ghana. She was born into a family of musicians and by age eight, she had started joining her father in the studio. She was also influenced by Asa and Ghanaian musician Omar Sterling of R2Bees.
Kamo Mphela (South African)
Kamogelo Mphela (born November 29, 1999), popularly known as Kamo Mphela, is a South African dancer and singer. She became an internet celebrity after she posted a video of her dancing on her social media account.
Kamo Mphela was born in Soweto, South Africa. She studied Media at the Boston Media House.
Her passion for dancing started at an early age when she accompanied her father who worked at YFM and at events where she would perform on stage and dance which eventually led to her getting more exposure through live performances.
She later became popular by posting videos on Instagram where she displayed her dancing skills. Before pursuing her dancing career, she had tried acting and had got a chance to be an extra on the TV soap Isibaya, but she later realized that it was not for her and she started performing as a dancer at gigs. Her dancing skills eventually got her the name "Queen of Amapiano".
In 2019, she got signed to Major League Music and released her Ep titled, Twentee under the label. She has also released songs such as Suka Emabozen and Menemene and has collaborated with South African singer Busiswa on the single Sbwl and has featured on the MFR Soulz single Amanikiniki ranked #1 on Good Hope FM's SA House Music Top 10 Chart.
MashBeatz (South African) and Ukweli (Kenyan)
Editor's Note: These biographies were culled from Boomplay, and slightly edited for clarity.