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African artists make YouTubeBlack voices Class of 2021 

Nigeria’s Fireboy DML, South Africa’s Sho Madjozi and Kenyan band Sauti Sol were on 12 January unveiled among the YoutubeBlack Voices Artist Class of 2021, making them the inaugural recipients of the YouTubeBlack Voices Fund.The programme forms part of a $100m global fund launched by the video-sharing platform in June last year. It was announced in October 2020 and complements YouTube initiatives that develop and amplify the voices and stories of black creators and artists around the world.

With the fund, YouTube also hopes to “present fresh narratives that emphasise the intellectual power, authenticity, dignity and joy of black voices, as well as to educate audiences about racial justice.”

The Africans are among 21 artists and groups selected from around the world for the inaugural edition of the programme. Also chosen are artists living and working in Brazil, Australia and the US, including American-Nigerian musician Joy Oladokun, Zimbabwean-born Australian singer-songwriter and rapper Tkay Maidza, and Australian rapper Jerome Farah, whose mother is Zimbabwean.

The Class of 2021 will receive dedicated partner support from YouTube, seed funding for the development of their channels, and participate in training and networking programmes focused on production, fan engagement and well-being.

“Whether drawing inspiration from R&B, reggaeton, emo, Afrobeats, rap, punk, country, funk, or spaces beyond, their work expresses the power of their vision and their passion for pushing their communities and music forward,” the YouTube Official Blog reads.

Fireboy DML said: “I make Afrobeats, but with a bit more soul and lyricism. That’s the spice I bring that makes me different. I’m inspired by human emotions and how they affect our decisions. And I’m on a mission to further cement my sound in other parts of the world, pushing Afrobeats to the global scene.”

“Our identity informs our sonics, our storytelling and our fashion,” Sauti Sol said. “Much like our country, Kenya, our music is multi-layered, with an East Africa groove. Our passion is for the craft and artistry of music, and our music is a soundtrack to people’s lives.”

Sho Madjozi said: “My music is loud. It sounds current, it sounds urgent. Ultimately, it’s a screenshot of life as a young African woman. Whether it’s asserting my independence, whether it’s talking about love or lost love. I want to be remembered as someone who made it cool to be African and cool to be yourself, someone that presented new ways or different ways of being at this time. More than anything, I want a more equal future, where the colour of your skin or the village you happen to be born in does not have a significant impact on how far you can go.”

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