The South African Music Awards (SAMAs) are South Africa's premier annual music awards, recognising musical excellence across all genres, from traditional to Afrikaans to Rock and Pop as well as paying tribute to the various facets of musical production including production, engineering and video production.
Winning a SAMA is the highest award a musician or producer can win in South African music. An award statuette is called a SAMA.
The SAMAs are run by the Recording Industry of South Africa (RiSA).
The event was instituted in 1995 and has been held annually ever since. The awards for a year occur early in that year, and are judged on performances made in the previous year.
The first awards ceremony was devised after a string of failed sponsored awards ceremonies ending in 1992, with no recognition for the music industry for three years. The nominees were held on 29 June, 1995 with the first award ceremony following on 29 July, 1995. Both events took place in Midrand at The Theatre On The Track.
Prizes for the first SAMAs were awarded in 29 categories, which were:
Best Female Singer
Best Male Singer
Best Traditional Performance: Nguni
Best Traditional Performance: Sesotho
Best Traditional Performance: Boeremusiek
Best Traditional Performance: Tsonga
Best Traditional Performance: Venda
Best New Artist / Group
Best Vocal Performance: Choirs
Best Vocal Performance: Mbube / A Cappella
Best Music Video
Best Instrumental Performance
Best Jazz Performance: Traditional
Best Jazz Performance: Contemporary
Best Mbaqanga Performance
Best Contemporary Dance Music
Best MOR (Middle of the Road) Performance
Best Pop Album
Best Rock Album
Best Reggae Album
Best Rap Album
Best Gospel Performance
Outstanding Contribution to South African Music
Best South African-Composed Soundtrack
Song of the Year
Best Album Packaging
Best Short Play
The first awards to be televised were the fourth, in 1998 - a two-hour special which aired three days after the actual award ceremony. The first live broadcast was in 2002, at the eighth SAMA awards.
The show is typically held each year at the Superbowl in Sun City and is broadcast on SABC1, with performances given by some of the nominees and other guests. The venue changed to Monte Casino for the 2011 awards and returned to Sun City in 2012.
In 2016 the awards were held at the Durban International Convention Centre.