At the tender age of 22, Tyla Seethal has etched her name into history as the youngest South African to clinch a Grammy Award. Hailing from Edenvale as the third child in a brood of five, Seethal’s triumph at the Grammy Awards ceremony held in Los Angeles, for her chart-topping single “Water” in the Best African Music Performance category, has set a new precedent. This newly introduced category also saw recognition for Musa Keys, another South African talent, for his work with Nigerian heavyweight Davido on “Unavailable.”
The nomination list was rounded out with notable entries such as Amapiano’s collaboration by Asake and Olamide, “City Boys” by Burna Boy, and “Rush” by Ayra Starr, showcasing the diverse musical talent emanating from the African continent.
Seethal’s victory places her among a distinguished group of South African Grammy laureates including Zakes Bantwini, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Soweto Gospel Choir, Black Coffee, Nomcebo Zikode, Wouter Kellerman, and the legendary Miriam Makeba, underscoring South Africa’s rich musical heritage on the global stage.
“What the heck, what? Oh my gosh guys this [is] crazy. I never thought I would say I won a Grammy at 22 years old… Last year God decided to change my whole life. So, thank you so much to God, my team and my family. I know my mother is crying somewhere in here [pointing into the audience],” Seethal expressed, overwhelmed with emotion during her acceptance speech. “Thank you to the Recording Academy for this category, it’s so important. I know I’m forgetting some things, but I won a Grammy,” she concluded, her joy manifesting in a celebratory dance amidst thunderous applause from the audience.
The journey to this pinnacle moment for Seethal, known by her stage name Tyla, has been nothing short of a whirlwind. Her single “Water” not only dominated charts globally but also marked a significant moment as the first solo track by a South African artist to break into the US Billboard Hot 100 since Hugh Masekela’s “Grazing in the Grass” over five decades ago. The song’s infectious rhythm catapulted it to the top of the Billboard’s Rhythmic Airplay chart in the US, overtaking international stars such as Drake and SZA.
“Water” transcended music platforms, becoming a cultural phenomenon on TikTok, where it inspired a global dance challenge that captivated audiences across generations.
As Seethal continues to chart her musical course with the release of “Truth or Dare” and anticipates the launch of her self-titled album, her narrative is a testament to the power of perseverance, talent, and the ever-evolving landscape of South African music on the world stage.
Reflecting on her roots and her ascent in the music industry, Seethal’s story is one of inspiration. Born to a family with Zulu, Indian, and Mauritian heritage, her passion for music was evident from a young age, leading her to pursue a career in entertainment over her initial path in mining engineering. Her musical influences, spanning from Michael Jackson to Aaliyah, have shaped her unique sound, blending Afrobeats, pop, R&B, and amapiano into a captivating melody that resonates globally.
Seethal’s early forays into the music scene through social media and her subsequent discovery by manager Garth von Glehn have paved the way for her burgeoning career. Her debut single “Getting Late,” produced in collaboration with Kooldrink, marked her entry into the music industry, garnering national acclaim and setting the stage for her future successes.
Amid her international acclaim, Seethal remains grounded in her South African identity, celebrating her heritage and aiming to elevate African music on the global stage. Her vision extends beyond personal success, aspiring for African artists to be recognized as leading figures in the global music industry.
10 Things to Know about Tyla Seethal
- Tyla Seethal, initially pursuing a degree in mining engineering, chose to follow her passion for music, leaving university to dedicate herself to her craft.
- She gained popularity on TikTok during the pandemic, showcasing her dance skills and musical talent.
- Her debut single “Getting Late” achieved instant success, marking her emergence on the music scene.
- Influenced by iconic artists like Aaliyah and Rihanna, Seethal’s music reflects a blend of global and South African sounds.
- The release of “Water” catapulted her into the spotlight, making her the first South African solo artist to enter the US Billboard Hot 100 since Hugh Masekela.
- Seethal supported Chris Brown on his European tour, showcasing her talent on an international stage.
- Beyond music, she enjoys painting and drawing, revealing her multifaceted artistic interests.
- Collaborations with artists like Drake and Doja Cat are on her wish list, highlighting her ambitious vision.
- She shares a quirky disdain for visible plumber’s cracks, adding a touch of humor to her persona.
- Anticipation builds for her debut album, promising to further establish her as a significant figure in music.
Tyla Seethal’s journey is a vibrant narrative of talent, ambition, and the power of embracing one’s roots while making a mark on the global stage. Her achievements serve not only as a personal triumph but as a beacon of inspiration for aspiring artists across Africa and beyond.