South African Music Awards

South African Music Award
Current: 29th South African Music Awards
Annual South African Music Awards Generic Logo
Awarded forOutstanding achievements in the music industry of South Africa
CountrySouth Africa
Presented byRecording Industry of South Africa
First awarded1995; 28 years ago (1995)
Television/radio coverage

The South African Music Awards (often simply the SAMAs) are the Recording Industry of South Africa's music industry awards, established in 1995. The ceremony is held annually, usually in late April or May, with the judging process starting in November of the previous year. The nominations are typically announced at the end of March. The winners receive a gold-plated statuette called a SAMA.

The show has mostly been held at the Super Bowl in Sun City, with the exception of three years, and broadcast live on national broadcaster, SABC. The ceremony features live performances as once-off collaborations by a selection of nominees.


SAMA Award Statuette

As of the 26th SAMAs, in 2020, there are a total of thirty categories awarded. These categories change from year to year to accommodate changes in music styles and changes in popularity of already existing genres. These genres include adult contemporary, Afrikaans, classical, dance, faith, jazz, Kwaito, Maskandi, pop, rap, reggae, RnB, rock, soul and traditional.

At times genres are grouped together into a single category based on their popularity amongst a certain demographic (e.g. Best Urban Artist nominees are often Hip Hop, African pop and Kwaito artists grouped together since these genres are popular amongst South Africans living in urban areas).

As of the 27th South African Music Awards, artists working in the Gqom and Amapiano genres will be considered in separate categories.

Top five awards

These are the top five award categories of the SAMAs. They were first introduced at the ceremony in 1995, with exception of Album of the Year that was introduced in 2007.

Audience awards

The winners of the following SAMAs are not chosen by a panel of judges:

  • Record of the Year: Determined by a public vote, traditionally by SMS

Mobile download awards

Eligibility and entry

As per the committee guidelines, only citizens and permanent residents of South Africa are eligible for a nomination.

Adjudication process

At the beginning of the adjudication process a Supervisory Committee is set up, it consists of two members from each of five "super genre" categories, which are Global Charts, Urban, Traditional, Technical and Jazz or Classical. This committee oversees the entire SAMA ceremony production process, along with the Steering, General Rules, and Vetting Committees. These committees are composed of unpaid volunteers from record companies and industry stakeholders. The judges are drawn from a wide spectrum to include journalists, critics, musicians, producers, and academics. There are five judges per genre category, based on the judge's field of expertise. The judge's anonymity is protected by the Steering committee, who ensure the judge's do not influence each other. The entire adjudication process takes place between September and February, with the nominees announced in March.

Phase one

The first phase takes place between late-September and December. The Steering Committee first determine the award categories, rules, and judging criteria for the entries. A panel of judges is elected and a call for entries takes place in November. The entries are vetted to comply with the committee rules, and genre guidelines.

Phase two

In this genre category phase, the judges receive a copy of the entries (either an album and DVD) by the end of December. The entries are scored against the criteria set by the Steering Committee. The score cards are submitted online, along with recommendations for the Top Five category nominees. The Top Five categories are nominated from the same pool of entries. An electronic judging system calculates the results, which are then audited by an independent firm at the end of January.

Phase three

This final phase of adjudication evaluates the Top Five categories. One judge from each genre category is selected to be part of the first round of voting. These judges select their top three entries, in their respective genres, taking into account the recommendations from other judges. The independent auditing firm ensures that a finalist in the Top Five has qualified for a nomination in their respective genre. Once the auditors have confirmed the Top Five finalist list, the last round of voting begins. All the judges participate in this round to determine the winners of each Top Five categories.


The first awards ceremony was in 1995, there have been 29 editions to date.

Ceremony Date Most Awards Album of the Year Best Newcomer Best Female Artist Best Male Artist Best Duo or Group Host(s) Venue
1st SAMA 1995 No Award Soweto String Quartet Brenda Fassie Jabu Khanyile No Award Alberton City Hall
2nd SAMA 1996 Qkumba Zoo Vicky Sampson Lebo M
3rd SAMA 1997 Revolution Sibongile Khumalo Johannes Kerkorrel Ladysmith Black Mambazo
4th SAMA 1998 Jimmy Dludlu Yvonne Chaka Chaka Vusi Mahlasela The Usual
5th SAMA 18 May 1999 Tasché Brenda Fassie Ringo Madlingozi TKZee
6th SAMA 30 March 2000 Gloria Bosman Busi Mhlongo Jimmy Dludlu Ladysmith Black Mambazo Martin Jonas Sun City Super Bowl
7th SAMA 5 April 2001 Selaelo Selota Miriam Makeba Don Laka Bayete and Jabu Khanyile Sandton Convention Centre
8th SAMA 13 April 2002 Ernie Smith Judith Sephuma Jimmy Dludlu Bongo Maffin Vusi Twala
Unathi Mankayi
Sun City Super Bowl
9th SAMA 6 April 2003 Moses Khumalo Sibongile Khumalo Hugh Masekela
for album Time
10th SAMA 29 May 2004 Adilah Swazi Dlamini Themba Mkhize Mafikizolo Unathi Nkayi
Tshepo Maseko
11th SAMA 19 April 2005 Simphiwe Dana Thandiswa Mazwai Themba Mkhize Revolution
12th SAMA 6 May 2006 Judith Sephuma (3) Brickz Judith Sephuma Jimmy Dludlu Bongo Maffin Tumisho Masha
13th SAMA 14 April 2007 Simphiwe Dana (4) The One Love Movement On Bantu Biko Street Siphokazi Simphiwe Dana Vusi Mahlasela Mafikizolo Kabelo Mabalane
14th SAMA 3 May 2008 Freshlyground (4) Ma' Cheri Tasha Baxter Karen Zoid HHP Freshlyground
15th SAMA 2 May 2009 Lira (4) Soul In Mind Andile Mseleku Lira Abdullah Ibrahim Soweto Gospel Choir Trevor Noah
16th SAMA 16 April 2010 Undisputed Tshepo Mngoma Lira Black Coffee Jaziel Brothers Trevor Noah
17th SAMA 21 May 2011 Professor (4) Fabrics Of The Heart Locnville Thandiswa Mazwai Professor Liquideep Loyiso Bala Montecasino
18th SAMA 29 April 2012 Zahara (8) Loliwe Zahara Zahara AKA Mi Casa Sun City Super Bowl
19th SAMA 11 May 2013 Khuli Chana (3) Lost in Time Toya Delazy Kelly Khumalo Khuli Chana Freshlyground
20th SAMA 28 April 2014 Mafikizolo (12) Reunited Naima Kay Zahara Kabomo Mafikizolo [Iminam Tatiya]
SAMA XXI 19 April 2015 Beatenberg (7) The Hanging Gardens of Beatenberg Cassper Nyovest Bucie AKA Beatenberg HHP
SAMA22 4 June 2016 Nathi (6) Pieces of Me Nathi Zonke Nathi Big Nuz Somizi Mhlongo
Thando Thabethe
Durban International Convention Centre
SAMA23 27

May 2017

Kwesta (6) AmaZulu Amanda Black Amanda


Kwesta Black


Somizi Mhlongo
Tumi Morake
Sun City Super Bowl
SAMA 24 2



Mafikizolo (6) Rose Gold Shekhinah Shekhinah Prince Kaybee Mafikizolo Somizi Mhlongo

Dineo Ranaka Mpho Popps

SAMA 25 1



Black Coffee (5) Umqhele Sho Madjozi Sho Madjozi Black Coffee Black Motion Bob Mabena

Twasa Seoke

Melanie Bala

Khuli Chana

Mpho Popps

Nomzamo Mbatha

SAMA 26 3 August


7 August 2020

Scorpion kings Ndabo Zulu & Umgidi Ensemble Ami Faku Prince Kaybee Ndabo Zulu & Umgidi Ensemble Dineo Langa and Donovan Goliath
SAMA 27 31 July 2021 Kabza De Small (4) Once Upon A Time in Lockdown Bucy Radebe Sho Madjozi Kabza De Small Kabza De Small & DJ Maphorisa Bontle Modiselle

Lawrence Maleka

SAMA 28 28 August 2022 Chymamusique (3) Musique Khanyisile Mthethwa Msaki Chymamusique Reece Madlisa & Zuma Mpho Popps
Robot Boii
SAMA 29 16, 17 November 2023 Kabza De Small (4) Lavish Worship - Nontokozo Mbambo Myztro Nontokozo Mbambo AKA Scorpion Kings DJ Sabby
Nomalanga Shozi
SunBet Arena

Notable moments

Arthur Mafokate on-stage defiance (1995)

At the 1st South African Music Awards, kwaito artist Arthur Mafokate performed a simulation of anal sex on a dancer. This was done as an act of defiance to the organisers, as he felt there was a need for a Kwaito Award. The following year the organiser introduced the award category.

Funky national anthem (1997)

It had been three years since the first democratic elections in South Africa and a new national anthem had been introduced at the beginning of the 1997. At the 3rd South African Music Awards, popular kwaito-group Boom Shaka decided to re-create the anthem in a "funky" on-stage performance, that later caused a "public blacklash".

Brenda Fassie demanding her award (2001)

Towards the end of the five-hour-long 7th South African Music Awards, Brenda Fassie accused a prominent journalist of being a homosexual - using the derogatory slang word moffie. She went on to further accuse him of destroying her with the articles he published. At an after-party, she was seen fighting with Mandoza and demanding that he hand over his award as it was "her award".

First virtual reality live broadcast (2016)

The SAMA22 was the first awards show to be broadcast live in its entirety in 360° video, with virtual reality made possible by Unreal Industries.

See also

This page was last updated at 2023-11-25 23:46 UTC. Update now. View original page.

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