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Blitz the Ambassador

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Blitz the Ambassador
Blitz Bazawule in 2022
Blitz Bazawule in 2022
Background information
Birth nameSamuel Bazawule
Also known asBlitz Bazawule
Born (1982-04-19) 19 April 1982 (age 42)
Accra, Ghana
  • filmmaker
  • author
  • visual artist
  • rapper
  • singer
  • songwriter
  • record producer
Years active2000–present
Musical career

Samuel Bazawule (born 19 April 1982), known professionally as Blitz Bazawule and Blitz the Ambassador, is a Ghanaian filmmaker, author, visual artist, rapper, singer-songwriter, and record producer.[1][2]

He started his career in the late 2000s, publishing four studio albums and being awarded the Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Contemporary Music. Blitz made his debut as a film director debut with The Burial of Kojo (2018), and co-directed the musical film Black Is King (2020) alongside Beyoncé, receiving his first Grammy Award nomination. He directed the musical film adaptation The Color Purple (2023).[3][4] In 2024 Variety listed him as one of the "10 Directors to Watch for 2024".[5]

Early life[edit]

Samuel Bazawule was born in Accra, Ghana, on 19 April 1982. He is the third of four children and attended Achimota School. While in school, he amassed awards for his visual art, but later developed an obsession with hip-hop music after hearing his older brother play the Public Enemy album It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back. Drawing on his love for history and social observation, Bazawule began to research and write historically loaded rhymes for which he became famous in school.[6]


Blitz the Ambadassor in 2014

After graduation from Achimota School in 2000, Bazawule was first recognized by Ghanaian Ace producer Hammer of The Last Two. Blitz was asked to come to the studio the next day after impressing Hammer with his skills. He recorded a verse on the song "Deeba" and received an award for Best New Artist at the 2000 Ghana Music Awards.[7] In 2001, Blitz moved to the United States to study at Kent State University in Ohio, where he graduated with a bachelor's degree in Business Administration.[8] In those years he performed at several live shows and opening for rappers such as Rakim.[9] In 2004 he self-released the album Soul Rebel, under the moniker Blitz.[10]

After graduation, Blitz moved to New York City. There, he recorded another album, Double Consciousness (2005),[10] and more recently he released Stereotype. The album draws from his diverse musical background. In order to achieve the live sound he was looking for, he formed a band, The Embassy Ensemble, and brushed off his own djembe skills.[11] He established a label, Embassy MVMT, and is now connected to The Roots community initiative Okayplayer.

In late 2009, Blitz the Ambassador was chosen as of one Beyond Race magazine's "50 Emerging Artists".[12] In 2015, Blitz received the Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Contemporary Music.[13][14] In 2011, he released "Feelin' High" with the French singer Ben Mazue, and in 2012, he was featured on the album Tetra by the French electronic crew C2C. Blitz has also frequently collaborated with Professor A.L.I. featuring on "Things Fall Apart" along with Raekwon in 2011,[15] on the remix "Things Still Fall Apart" in 2012, and on his song "The Mic Shall Inherit The Earth" off of the "XFactor" album in 2015.[16][17] In 2016 he published his forth studio album Diasporadical and the related short film Diasporadical Trilogia, a triptych with installments set in Accra, New York City and Salvador, Bahia.[18]

Blitz The Ambassador in 2019

In 2018, Blitz directed and wrote his debut film The Burial of Kojo, which featured actors Ama K. Abebrese, Joseph Otsiman, Joyce Anima Misa Amoah and Cynthia Dankwa.[19][20] The film was acquired by Ava DuVernay’s independent film studio Array for a theatrical and a Netflix release, and premiered at the 2018 Urban World film festival in New York.[21] It received nine nominations at the 15th Africa Movie Academy Awards, winning for Best First Feature Film by a Director, and won the Grand Nile Prize at the Luxor African Film Festival.

In 2019, Blitz was one of the directors featured in Beyoncé's visual album The Lion King: The Gift and in the related Walt Disney Pictures's musical film Black Is King,[22][23] for which he was nominated for Best Music Film at the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards.[24] Blitz starred in the 2019 Whitney Biennial curated by Rujeko Hockley and Jane Panetta.[25] Blitz is also a 2019 Senior TED (conference) Fellow,[26] and founded the Africa Film Society, an organization focused on the preservation of classic African cinema. He was the recipient of one of the Guggenheim Fellowships for his influence of Ghana.[27][28][29][30]

In 2020, it was announced that Bazawule was set to direct The Color Purple, a film adaptation of Alice Walker's book of the same name and the Broadway musical produced by Oprah Winfrey.[31] Winfrey herself produced the film with Quincy Jones, Scott Sanders and Steven Spielberg.[32] The film starred Fantasia Barrino, Taraji P. Henson, Colman Domingo and Danielle Brooks. It was released in the United States on 25 December 2023 by Warner Bros. Pictures.[33][31][34] The film earned him nominations for the Critics' Choice Movie Award for Best Picture and a Black Reel Award for Outstanding Director.

Bazawule's first book, The Scent of Burnt Flowers, was published on June 28, 2022.[35] On 17 March 2022, it was announced that FX would produce a six-episode miniseries based on the book, with Bazawule directing and producing as well as Yahya Abdul-Mateen II starring.[36] and Black Samruai [37]


Studio albums[edit]

  • 2009: Stereotype
  • 2011: Native Sun
  • 2014: Afropolitan Dreams
  • 2016: Diasporadical

Soundtrack albums[edit]

  • 2019: The Burial of Kojo


  • 2004: Soul Rebel
  • 2005: Double Consciousness
  • 2009: StereoLive
  • 2013: The Warm Up


Feature films[edit]

Short films[edit]

  • 2011: Native Sun
  • 2016: Diasporadical Trilogia


  • TBA: The Scent of Burnt Flowers[36]
  • Blitz Bazawule recently had his TV directorial debut on a show named Cherish the Day set to premiere next year at OWN and is currently writing his next feature

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Work Result Ref.
2019 Africa Movie Academy Awards Best First Feature Film by a Director The Burial of Kojo Won [40]
Luxor African Film Festival Grand Nile Prize (Long Narrative) Won [41]
2021 NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Directing in a Television Movie or Special Black is King Nominated [42]
Grammy Awards Best Music Film Nominated [43]
Black Reel Awards Outstanding Television Documentary or Special Nominated [44]
2024 Critics' Choice Movie Awards Best Picture The Color Purple Nominated [45]
Astra Film Awards Best Picture Nominated .[46]
Black Reel Awards Outstanding Director Nominated [45]
Houston Film Critics Society Awards Best Picture Nominated [47]
NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Breakthrough Creative (Motion Picture) Won [48]


  1. ^ "Sam Blitz Bazawule". IMDb. Retrieved 26 December 2018.
  2. ^ Editorial (4 March 2019). "Whitney Biennial". Two Coats of Paint.
  3. ^ Chibelushi, Wedaeli (24 December 2023). "Blitz Bazawule - the Ghanaian who dazzled Beyoncé takes on The Color Purple". BBC News. Retrieved 7 January 2024.
  4. ^ Jurgensen, John (27 December 2023). "The Beyoncé Veteran Remaking 'The Color Purple' for a New Generation". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 7 January 2024.
  5. ^ Vary, Peter; Debruge, Peter; Elfadl, Murtada; Gilchrist, Todd; Goldstein, Gregg; Hendrickson, Paula; Howard, Courtney; Jackson, Angelique; Simon, Brent (4 January 2024). "Variety's 10 Directors to Watch for 2024: Blitz Bazawule, Cord Jefferson and Anna Kendrick Among Noteworthy Helmers". Variety. Retrieved 8 January 2024.
  6. ^ "About Blitz The Ambassador". Archived from the original on 8 March 2011. Retrieved 22 February 2010.
  7. ^ "Blitz The Ambassador". OneBeat. Retrieved 24 September 2023.
  8. ^ Fitzpatrick, Rob (19 May 2011). "First sight: Blitz the Ambassador". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 24 September 2023.
  9. ^ "Blitz the Ambassador: A New Face for Hip-Hop's Foreign Policy". Brooklyn Bodega. 24 July 2009. Archived from the original on 25 September 2009. Retrieved 22 February 2010.
  10. ^ a b "Interview: Blitz the Ambassador, 2008". Archived from the original on 16 February 2010. Retrieved 22 February 2010.
  11. ^ "First sight: Blitz the Ambassador". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 January 2023.
  12. ^ "Blitz the Ambassador". Archived from the original on 9 February 2010. Retrieved 23 February 2010.
  13. ^ "Ghanaian born Blitz the Ambassador wins $35,000 at the Vilcek Prizes for Creative Promise". NYDJ Live!!!. 6 February 2013. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  14. ^ Wakin, Daniel J. (4 February 2013). "A $100,000 Prize for Yo-Yo Ma". ArtsBeat. Retrieved 22 March 2019.
  15. ^ SFBayview.com "Professor A.L.I. 20 May 2011 (accessed 21 November 2014)
  16. ^ ProfessorALI.com [1] 23 December 2014 (accessed 23 December 2014)
  17. ^ "Blitz The Ambassador: Fighting Against Invisibility". National Public Radio. 9 September 2013. Retrieved 24 September 2023.
  18. ^ Itzkoff, Dave (26 June 2022). "Blitz Bazawule Is Building Bridges Between Worlds". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 24 September 2023.
  19. ^ Brody, Richard (28 March 2019). ""The Burial of Kojo," Reviewed: A Boldly Lyrical Portrait of a Young Ghanaian Girl". The New Yorker. ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved 24 September 2023.
  20. ^ Kiang, Jessica (30 May 2019). "Film Review: 'The Burial of Kojo'". Variety. Retrieved 24 September 2023.
  21. ^ Ramos, Dino-Ray (15 February 2019). "Ava DuVernay's ARRAY Acquires Surreal Drama 'The Burial Of Kojo', Sets Netflix Premiere Date". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 24 September 2023.
  22. ^ Elder, Sajae (14 August 2020). "How the directors of Beyoncé's Black Is King created an exercise in modern mythmaking". The Fader. Retrieved 24 September 2023.
  23. ^ Adams, Sam (30 July 2023). "A Guide to the Directors of Beyoncé's Black Is King". Slate Magazine. ISSN 1091-2339. Retrieved 24 September 2023.
  24. ^ a b Desta, Yohana (29 June 2020). "Beyoncé "Felt Overwhelmed" Making New Visual Album, Black Is King". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 23 July 2020.
  25. ^ "Whitney Biennial 2019". whitney.org.
  26. ^ "'Meet the 2019 TED Fellows and Senior Fellows'". TED. Retrieved 7 June 2023.
  27. ^ "'The Burial Of Kojo' Makes History As Ghana's First Golden Globes Entry". Essence. Retrieved 13 February 2020.
  28. ^ "The Burial Of Kojo: Here is what you need to know about Netflix's next original African movie". www.pulse.ng. 19 February 2019. Retrieved 13 February 2020.
  29. ^ "Blitz the Ambassador Named 2020 Guggenheim Fellow". OkayAfrica. 9 April 2020. Retrieved 8 June 2021.
  30. ^ "John Simon Guggenheim Foundation | Blitz Bazawule". Retrieved 8 June 2021.
  31. ^ a b D'Alessandro, Anthony (24 August 2020). "The Color Purple Feature Musical: 'Black Is King's Blitz Bazawule Set To Direct". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on 26 September 2020. Retrieved 29 December 2020.
  32. ^ Kit, Borys (2 November 2018). "Spielberg, Oprah Bringing Color Purple to Big Screen (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on 11 December 2020. Retrieved 29 December 2020.
  33. ^ Rubin, Rebecca (23 December 2020). "Warner Bros. to Release Mad Max: Fury Road Prequel and The Color Purple Musical in Theaters in 2023". Variety. Archived from the original on 24 December 2020. Retrieved 24 December 2020.
  34. ^ Kit, Borys (2 November 2018). "Spielberg, Oprah Bringing Color Purple to Big Screen (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on 11 December 2020. Retrieved 29 December 2020.
  35. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (1 February 2021). "'Black Is King' Filmmaker Blitz Bazawule Sells Debut Novel 'The Scent Of Burnt Flowers' To Ballantine Books". Deadline. Retrieved 19 March 2022.
  36. ^ a b Kroll, Justin (17 March 2022). "FX Lands Rights To Blitz Bazawule's 'Scent Of Burnt Flowers' To Develop As Limited Series With Yahya Abdul-Mateen II Attached To Star". Deadline. Retrieved 19 March 2022.
  37. ^ "Warner Bros. Lands 'Black Samurai' Movie From 'The Color Purple' Director Blitz Bazawule (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety.
  38. ^ Ramos, Dino-Ray (15 February 2019). "Ava DuVernay's ARRAY Acquires Surreal Drama 'The Burial Of Kojo'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  39. ^ "Business - NYTimes.com". markets.on.nytimes.com. Retrieved 22 March 2019.
  40. ^ Gbenga, Bada (27 October 2019). "AMAA 2019: Here are all the winners at the 15th edition of award". Pulse NG. Retrieved 29 October 2019.
  41. ^ "2019 Edition: Awards". Luxor African Film Festival. Retrieved 23 September 2023.
  42. ^ Davis, Clayton (2 February 2021). "Viola Davis, Tyler Perry and Regina King Up for Entertainer of the Year at 2021 NAACP Image Awards". Variety. Retrieved 5 February 2021.
  43. ^ "Blitz Bazawule: Awards and Nominations". The Black Reel Awards. Retrieved 23 September 2023.
  44. ^ "Black Reel Awards for Television 2021: Plenty of "Love" in the Heart of the Country!". The Black Reel Awards. 17 June 2021. Archived from the original on 28 June 2021. Retrieved 10 August 2021.
  45. ^ a b Complex, Valerie (15 December 2023). "Black Reel Awards Nominations: 'The Color Purple' And 'Rustin' Dominate". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 16 December 2023.
  46. ^ ""Barbie" and "Oppenheimer" Lead 2024 Astra Award Film & Creative Arts Nominations" (Press release). Hollywood Creative Alliance. 7 December 2023. Retrieved 8 December 2023.
  47. ^ Neglia, Matt (9 January 2024). "The 2023 Houston Film Critics Society (HFCS) Nominations". Next Best Picture. Retrieved 17 January 2024.
  48. ^ Jackson, Angelique (14 March 2024). "NAACP Image Awards: Kerry Washington, Jeffrey Wright, Sterling K. Brown and Ryan Michelle Bathé Set as Presenters, Andra Day to Perform". Variety. Retrieved 15 March 2024.

External links[edit]