Global hitmaker and multiple award winning singer-songwriter Wizkid has been announce as Artist of the Year in Africa at the third annual Apple Music Awards - the awards created to recognize the best artists of 2021 and their influence on global culture.
For the past two years, the Apple Music Awards honoured achievements in music across five distinct categories — Artist of the Year, Songwriter of the Year, Breakthrough Artist of the Year, Top Song of the Year, and Top Album of the Year — and winners are chosen through a process that reflects both Apple Music’s editorial perspective and what customers around the world are listening to the most.
And this year, the awards will introduced a new category of awards for Regional Artist of the Year, recognizing artists from five countries and regions: Africa, France, Germany, Japan, and Russia. The Regional Artist of the Year awards recognize artists who made the greatest impact culturally and on the charts in their respective countries and regions.
For the award, Wizkid is billed as one of Africa’s biggest crossover acts, having worked with Drake, Skepta, and Chris Brown, among others. The Nigerian musician first found regional success in 2011 with the massively popular single “Holla at Your Boy,” which appeared on his debut album, “Superstar.” Wizkid went global in 2016 after his collaboration with Drake on “One Dance,” which soared to the top of the charts in 15 countries. Between 2019 and 2020, Wizkid was featured in Beyoncé’s projects “The Lion King: The Gift” and its companion piece, “Black Is King.” In October 2020, he released “Made in Lagos,” his critically acclaimed and most commercially successful album, which included his hit song “Essence,” a track that gained 125 million plays on Apple Music and over 2.8 million Shazams. This past year, he’s been the most streamed African artist on the continent on Apple Music and ranked on the Daily Top 100 charts in 60 countries, in addition to his monthly plays on Apple Music growing by more than 250 percent outside of Africa. He’s also been featured on Apple Music’s Today’s Hits and R&B Now playlists, and he’s a frequent guest on Apple Music Radio shows, including “Africa Now Radio,” “The Ebro Show,” “New Music Daily with Zane Lowe,” and “OVO SOUND RADIO.”
“Thank you to Apple Music for this award,” Wizkid said. “It’s a blessing to get to do what I do, and I’m proud to be representing for Africa.”
Other winners included:
Global Artist of the Year: The Weeknd
Filtering R&B and pop through an ambitious widescreen lens, The Weeknd took over popular music and culture on his own terms. The global superstar’s 2020 album “After Hours” quickly surpassed one million pre-adds on Apple Music, and is the most pre-added album of all time by a male artist on the platform. “After Hours” also holds the record for the most streamed R&B/Soul album in its first week in 73 countries. The smash single “Blinding Lights” peaked at No. 1 on Apple Music’s Daily Top 100: Global chart, and ranks as one of the 20 most Shazamed songs of all time. The Weeknd also hosts the massively popular taste-making Apple Music Radio show “MEMENTO MORI,” celebrated for its eclectic playlists and major world premieres. He’s graced recent covers of TIME, Forbes, Variety, Rolling Stone, Esquire, Harper’s Bazaar, and GQ, and blew away fans with his 2021 Super Bowl LV Halftime Show, which was one of the most Shazamed moments of the year.
“I’m so grateful for this huge honor and want to thank Apple for all its support, not only for my work but also for great music by newer artists, where it matters so much for creators to be found and supported,” The Weeknd said.
Breakthrough Artist of the Year, Album of the Year, and Song of the Year: Olivia Rodrigo
For Olivia Rodrigo, 2021 will go down as the year of epic firsts. The 18-year-old singer-songwriter released her tear-soaked debut single, “drivers license,” in January, which quickly topped the charts and became one of the most streamed new releases of the year. “drivers license” registered the highest first-week streams ever for a debut single by an artist on Apple Music globally, reaching No. 1 on the Daily Top 100: Global chart, where it remained for over a month, and was the fastest-ever debut solo track by a US artist to accumulate five million Shazams. Her highly anticipated debut album, “SOUR,” followed in May, and was celebrated with an Apple Music First Listen virtual event with fans and an accompanying interview with Zane Lowe. “SOUR” carries the highest first-week streams for a debut album on Apple Music globally, with all 11 songs on the album ranked on the Daily Top 100: Global chart, as well as the Daily Top 100 chart in 66 additional countries. Rodrigo has been on the cover of Apple Music playlists Today’s Hits, A-List Pop, and New Music Daily, and closes her life-changing year as the deserving recipient of her first three Apple Music Awards. She took home Breakthrough Artist, Album of the Year (“SOUR”), and Song of the Year (“drivers license”).
“I did my first interview for ‘drivers license’ with Apple Music, and so much has happened since then,” Rodrigo said. “It’s truly surreal. Thank you to Apple Music for these amazing awards.”
Songwriter of the Year: H.E.R.
Award-winning singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist H.E.R.’s work within the R&B genre grew even more expansive in 2021 with the release of her acclaimed 21-track album “Back of My Mind,” which captures the artist at her most brilliant, confident, and freewheeling. The chart-topping album was the third most streamed R&B/Soul album on Apple Music in its first week of release by a female artist this year, with singles “Damage” and “Come Through” (featuring Chris Brown) both spending multiple weeks on the Daily Top 100 chart in over 30 countries. The former Apple Music Up Next artist also penned the anthemic original “Fight for You” for the celebrated motion picture “Judas and the Black Messiah,” and covered Marvin Gaye’s “Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)” for Apple Music’s exclusive “Juneteenth: Freedom Songs” compilation. H.E.R. is a regular guest on Zane Lowe and Ebro Darden’s shows on Apple Music 1, and she has been featured as the cover of popular Apple Music playlists New Music Daily, R&B Now, and more.
“I am very honored and blessed to receive this recognition,” H.E.R. said. “As a young Black and Filipino artist, and a woman who is on the stage giving my all, there’s no doubt that representation is important. Thank you so much, Apple Music.”
Other winners included Artist of the Year (France): Aya Nakamura, Artist of the Year (Germany): RIN, Artist of the Year (Japan): OFFICIAL HIGE DANDISM and Artist of the Year (Russia): Scriptonite.
The Apple Music Awards celebration kicks off Tuesday, December 7, 2021, with interviews, original content, and more all streaming worldwide on Apple Music and the Apple TV app. Music fans who are not already subscribed to Apple Music can sign up for a three-month free trial at apple.com/apple-music.