First Nigerian to a win Grammy

The first Nigerian to win a Grammy is Micheal Babatunde Olatunji , 

Micheal Babatunde Olatunji won BEST WORLD MUSIC in Grammy – 1991

Olatunji was born in the village of Ajido, near Badagry, Lagos State, in southwestern Nigeria. A member of the Ogu people, Olatunji was introduced to traditional African music at an early age. His name, Bàbátúndé, means ‘father has returned’, because he was born two months after his father, an Ogu (Egun) man,

Zannu Lofinda Olatunji, died, and Olatunji was considered to be a reincarnation. His father was a local fisherman who was about to rise to the rank of chieftain, and his mother was a potter who was a member of the Ogu people. Olatunji grew up speaking the Gun (Ogu/Egun) and Yoruba languages. His maternal grandmother and a great-grandmother were priestesses of the Vodun and Ogu religions, and they worshipped the Vodun, such as Kori, the goddess of fertility. Because of his father’s premature death, from an early age he was groomed to take the position as chief. When he was 12, he realized that he did not want to become a chieftain. He read in Reader’s Digest magazine about the Rotary International Foundation’s scholarship program, and applied for it. His application was successful and he went to the United States of America in 1950.

  • Olatunji was part of Mickey Hart’s Planet Drum projects, including the album Planet Drum, which won the Grammy Award for Best World Music Album of 1991, the first year for which the award was given.
  • He was an inductee into the Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame in 2001.


  • Drums of Passion (Columbia, 1959)
  • Zungo! (1961)
  • Flaming Drums (Columbia, 1962)
  • High Life! (Columbia, 1963)
  • Drums!, Drums!, Drums! (Roulette, 1964)
  • Soul Makossa (Paramount, 1973)
  • Dance to the Beat of My Drum (Bellaphon, 1986)
  • Drums of Passion: The Invocation (Rykodisc, 1988)
  • Drums of Passion: The Beat (Rykodisc, 1989)
  • Drums of Passion: Celebrate Freedom, Justice & Peace (Olatunji, 1993)
  • Drums of Passion and More (Bear Family, 1994)
  • Babatunde Olatunji, Healing Rhythms, Songs and Chants (Olatunji, 1995)
  • Love Drum Talk (1997, Chesky)
  • Drums of Passion [Expanded] (2002)
  • Olatunji Live at Starwood (2003) Recorded Live at the Starwood Festival 1997
  • Healing Session (2003, Narada)
  • Circle of Drums (2005, Chesky)

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