Event organisers of the annual Ghana Music Awards (GMA), Charter House last Friday released a list of nominees for this year’s awards.
The nominee list has since excited some debate in certain quarters, mainly on the lines of whether some of the nominees deserve any award at all or whether the selection truly reflect industry movers and shakers.
Many musicians and critics like Blakk Rasta and Kwaw Kese have taken a swipe at this year’s awards and the nominations with Black Rasta publicly calling it, “the biggest insult to Ghanaian music.” Kwaw Kese who was the biggest winner in the 2008 edition of the awards on the other hand had some harsh words for the organisers. He described this year’s awards as fishy and biased.
Reacting to concerns raised after the release of the nominations and this year’s awards in general, Juno Abena Turkson, Public Relations Executive of Charter House told Myjoyonline.com in an interview that there is nothing fishy about the awards and that all nominations are a genuine reflection of artistes and music performances during the calendar year of the awards. The calendar year for this year’s awards falls between November 2008 to November 2009.
She disclosed that, “a song that is considered for GMA 2010 must have been released between November 2008 to November 2009,” after which the songs went through a shortlisting process.
When organisers called for entries for nominations for this year’s awards, they asked for songs that were released within that calendar year to be brought for consideration and for each category 20 to 30 songs qualified for selection.
“We went through a process of shortlisting because only five songs in each category can be nominated for public voting. So no matter how long the list of songs that made it, the public categories is still largely based on popularity. So when we are listening to it and sifting through it, you will still find the top five that are made for each category which will mean that a lot of other songs will fall through the cracks not "necessarily that" they are not good enough, but then it is a contest of popularity,” Juno explained.
She added that, “what is popular to you is subjective to what is popular to me...the top five is what we’ve put out for the public to vote for.”
She further indicated that there are two main categories in the Ghana Music Awards, namely the Public Awards category and the Industry Awards but the main focus is on the Public category. The Public category is based on popularity and whether the song falls under the year under review.
The Industry Awards category, she explained, looks at standards; good quality songs and productions. This is why GMA also awards Instrumentalist of the year, Record of the year, the Record Label of the year and the Producer of the year.
Giving reasons why a song like ‘Adiepena’ by Kojo Antwi will be nominated for ‘Reggae song of the year’, Juno said they tasked a committee called the Categorisation committee whose sole job is to listen to the short-listed songs and put them into the award categories. She said the committee after listening to the song carefully deemed it fit to put it into that category because it sounded like reggae.
Juno played down talks concerning Ohemaa Mercy’s nomination as to the time she released her album to merit an award. She said they contacted Ohemaa Mercy’s management on the actual date of the release of her album ‘Wobeye Kese’ and her management told the organisers that the album in question was released in the calendar year of the award.
Jon Germain’s song ‘Love Zone’ she said, had a nomination for Record of the Year because of the definition organisers had for that category which states that the song should have been of a very high quality and must be released in the calendar year of the awards.
Concerns were raised with some members of the GMA committee which includes Kofi Okyere Darko (Manager of music duo, Wutah), Kiki Banson (Manager of Becca) and Abraham Ohene Djan (CEO of OM Studios and manager of Okomfo Kwadee). This many say will pave way for favouritism.
Juno in reaction said these people are members of the Categorisation Committee whose sole job is to put the songs in the various categories and do not have a say when it comes to which songs should make it to the awards.
“The songs are nominated entirely by different people and they (the above mentioned) by virtue of the fact that they know what is happening in the industry and they know their music so we put all of them together as a committee to help put all the short-listed songs into the right categories,” Juno explained.
In the case of Kwaw Kese who was the biggest winner in the 2008 edition, he was quoted to have said that “it is as if some of the panel members are my ‘enemies’,” considering that fact that he didn’t get any nomination this year after what he termed was a successful year for him.
Juno in response said, “the same group of people who nominated him two years ago for him to win Artiste of the Year is the same group of people we have put together that did the whole job this time around so if the same group of people do not like him this year, then maybe he should ask himself a question or two.”
Concerns were also raised with respect to amendments and new categories introduced into this year’s awards. This Juno explained that the Planning committee considered songs that are released and categorised as Contemporary (new) Highlife songs and songs that are released and considered Highlife songs.
The two she said, are basically Highlife irrespective of the time or year it was released and the committee came to the conclusion that there was no need to have two categories awarding the same thing. Therefore there is no Contemporary Highlife Award this year.
The newest addition to this year’s awards is the Best Rapper of the year Award which organisers say is meant to capture artistes who do rap and therefore cannot be featured in the Best Vocal Performance Award.
She indicated that a lot of songs being released now are rap, making it impossible to judge the vocal performance of an artiste. Therefore artistes who rap cannot be put under the Best Vocal Performance thus the introduction of the Best Rapper of the year category.
The grand event which is the awards night will be held on April 10 at the Accra International Conference Centre and organisers say this year’s event holds much more excitement than previous years. Beisdes the ultimate prizes in each award category, all winners will automatically walk away with a Plaque, mobile phone airtime and a cash prize of GHS1,000 irrespective of the number of awards an artiste wins. This means if an artiste wins five awards, he or she will get GHS1,000 just as an artiste who wins one award will get the same amount. Artiste of the year will also walk away with GHS3,000.
The grand event will be preceded by a Nominees Jam on March 6 at the Takoradi Polytechnic Park and an industry forum later in the month.
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