The United States government is committed to strengthening the burgeoning U.S.-Nigeria cultural ties through music, arts, film, cultural heritage, and professional and educational exchanges.
Ms. Mary Beth Leonard, the U.S Ambassador to Nigeria, disclosed this Thursday while delivering remarks at the reception hosted by the U.S. Mission Nigeria to honor the 15th Annual Headies Music Awards, which will be held for the first time in Atlanta, Georgia later this year.
Ambassador Leonard applauded the growing ties of the two countries in the creative industry.
She explained that the choice of Atlanta to host the Headies symbolizes the growing relationship between the music industries in the United States and Nigeria and the growing popularity of Nigerian music in the United States.
“This year’s Headies awards will highlight the growing U.S.-Nigeria ties and the vast potential of Nigerian musicians as cultural exporters to the African continent and beyond,” Ambassador Leonard said.
The Ambassador noted that cultural exchange advances U.S.-Nigeria strategic partnership by forging lasting ties between American and Nigerian artists and shining a spotlight on the vibrant creative community in Nigeria and the United States.
“The U.S. government has long recognized the role of music in diplomacy, with its emphasis on free expression, improvisation, and democratic and collaborative teamwork. Sharing music is one of the best ways to find common ground with people on an exchange program. The appeal of music is truly universal,” Ambassador Leonard added.
In his welcoming remarks, Acting U.S. Consul General, Brandon Hudspeth noted that cultural and artistic exchanges are just one way the United States partners with the people and government of Nigeria.
“We continue to explore innovative ways to foster valuable people-to-people connections between our two countries,” Hudspeth said.
“The U.S. Mission is honored to partner with the Headies. This year’s Headies Awards will highlight the Nigerian music industry’s creativity and growing global reach,” he added.
Executive Producer of the Headies Awards, Ayo Animashaun, noted that it’s the first year the Headies will be held outside of Nigeria.
He described Atlanta as home to many prominent hip-hop and R&B artists and their record labels.
“The Headies recognizes outstanding achievements in the Nigerian music industry. Our goal is to continue to support the development of talent and nurture innovation in the music industry,” Animashaun added.
The Public Affairs Sections of the U.S. Mission in Abuja and Lagos support programs that connect American creatives with their Nigerian counterparts.
Through these people-to-people connections, the U.S. Mission hopes to foster a deeper relationship between the people of Nigeria and the United States.
In its 16th year, The Headies has grown to become Nigeria’s biggest and most prestigious music award show, and now expanding its scope beyond Nigeria for its 15th edition.
As it grows into a continental award, this year’s edition will hold at the Cobbs Energy Performing Arts Centre, a $145 million facility opened on September 15, 2007, in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
The main theatre of the centre can sit 2,750 guests while its 10,000-square-foot ballroom, divisible into three sections, holds up to 630 for a seated meal, 800 in a theatre setting and up to 650 for a reception.
The centre’s parking deck can accommodate 1,000 vehicles.
Animashaun revealed that the awards needs to grow as well the need to move Nigeria music and her talents to a global scale thus the choice of Atlanta dubbed the black capital of the world where black music shines and equally the centre of Black Entertainment in the world.
The Headies boss noted that “we have to reward more artists and show the world that we can do it. The fact that there is a lot more to achieve beyond what we’ve achieved in Nigeria at the moment. We are not close to being there”.
He added that there will be addition of new award categories to honour music artistes from across Africa.
The six new categories introduced for the 15th Headies are Music Executive of the Year, Best Afrobeat Pop Single (Nigeria), Best Afrobeat Pop Album (Nigeria), Best African Collaboration, Best International Collaboration, and African Artiste of the Year.