The Rise Of Afrobeats In America: Demi Grace Becomes First Universal Music Group Nigeria Artist

Published on April 30, 2019

You can’t quite put your finger on it nor can you ignore its unique sound.

Often described as a fusion of “polyrhythmic” pop with hip hop, R&B and electronic, the Afrobeats buzz originating in Nigeria has made its way to the U.S. in full force, with Davido as its global ambassador since the release of his “Fall” single that continues to rise on the Billboard Hip-Hop and R&B Airplay charts. The Nigerian star was even shocked by its success because he released about 10 songs after “Fall” before it caught fire, Davido explained in a Rolling Stone interview.

While credit has been given to Davido for the success of the Afrobeats movement in the states, some say Drake was responsible for bringing it mainstream with his 2016 hit “One Dance” featuring Wizkid. Regardless of what critics say, this musical style has made room for more Nigerian artists to launch their careers like Demi Grace who is the first Nigerian artist signed with Universal Music Group Nigeria.

Early days and signing with UMG

Demi Grace made hair history with Pantene.

Born in London, Grace has been performing most of her life and is more than a singer. The Nigerian pop star is an international model representing major brands like Sephora, songwriter and dancer, who developed her marketing skills while studying at a California college.

She managed to utilize her marketing degree by building her fan base when she was an indie artist and her music captured the attention of UMG executives. Even after receiving her deal with one of the largest record labels worldwide, the singer continues to grind just as hard as an indie artist who doesn’t have the luxury of the backing from a big four music company. Her dreams have become a reality in which she is able to work with notable producers and music video directors for her forthcoming studio album, which she has yet to announce.

Traveling across the world, she has been able to grace many stages as a triple threat — singing her own songs from various projects, choreographing for major superstars like Beyoncé and ripping the runway as a model.

New Single

Demi Grace’s “Come Closer” released in 2018.

“Just Friends” is her latest single that illustrates a “friendship that has crossed the lines” into a secret love connection. The melodic Afrobeats sound is a smooth blend of R&B and dance music that you could easily play in the club and hear on the radio.

During an exclusive interview with the Gritdaily, Demi described the moment she realized she was performing alongside Beyonce as a background dancer and expounded on her journey in the music thus far.

Grit Daily: Describe the moment you knew you were performing with Beyonce.

Demi Grace: The entire process was a huge secret. It actually wasn’t until I arrived at the rehearsal space and saw Blue Ivy, which was the moment I knew Beyonce was in the room and, given the audition, I was going to perform with Beyonce.

GD: Many of your fans are curious to know what you are working on in the studio. Tell us about any upcoming projects.

DG: I’m working on new music with my new label. Right now we are cultivating a new sound and that takes time. But, I’m so excited for everyone to hear the music I’ve been working on.

GD: You created your own fan base as an indie artist. Can you tell me how the record deal with UMG came about after?

DG: It actually came at the end of my tour last year. Lagos has a huge concert that happens every year on January 1st and it was my second time in the show. When we got to Lagos, a radio promoter actually set up the meeting, and after the second meeting, we decided to sign. It wasn’t until late February that we reconvened at the New York City UMG office to officially sign.

GD: How has your experience been thus far with Universal Music Group Nigeria? Can you tell us more about the new label?

DG: It’s very interesting being with a label as opposed to being officially independent. The same amount of work is still required to make things happen. Working with UMG Nigeria is exciting because it’s a brand new office that has an opportunity to really break an artist globally among other great possibilities. I’m grateful to be apart of that and to be the first Nigerian artist signed to Universal

GD: Afrobeats has become popular in the U.S. Is it fair to categorize you as just an Afrobeats artist?

DG: I have songs from other genres so yes that wouldn’t be fair. I evolve. I go through era’s and I would say that this is my strongest afrobeats era.

GD: Any advice for any artist looking to break into the music industry?

DG: Just do you and do it to your core. That will show you who your true fans are and when you have your own true fans it can only go up from there.

Ike (Issac) Morgan is a Columnist at Grit Daily. A 2009 graduate of Florida A&M University's School of Journalism and Graphic Communication, Issac Morgan wears many hats as a freelance journalist with published clips in numerous notable media outlets such as Sheen magazine, The Jasmine Brand, and Celebrity Net Worth. He has provided exclusive coverage on celebrity/public figures featured in many top publications for print and online platforms. Morgan is also a media relations/publicity consultant, delivering consistent media coverage and placement for a diverse clientele in entertainment, fitness, fashion and for nonprofits. His most recognizable publicity efforts have been for Christopher "Play" Martin of Kid 'n Play where he established press coverage for his forthcoming documentary film "AndiDanced." Mr. Morgan gives insight into pop culture, entertainment, and politics.

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