VGMA board was unfair to Gasmilla

I have listened to explanations given by the Vodafone Ghana Music Awards board concerning why some categories were merged and others suspended in this year’s event and I find some of the reasons as totally absurd.

According to the board, the Gospel Album of the Year category is suspended because the gospel albums submitted were not enough and those that were submitted did not have the minimum requirements of three hit songs, Lifetime Achievement Award and MUSIGA Merit Award will be merged.

For one reason or the other, I would like to focus on reasons given on why there will not be Music for Development and why the board has treated Gasmilla unfairly, in my estimation.

George Quaye, Public Relations Officer of event company, Charterhouse, who doubles as a member of the board in an interview on Pluzz FM’s AM Pluzz on Wednesday, February 24, 2016 stated that the board’s decision not to feature the Music for Development category in this year’s edition was informed by two reasons: first, there were not enough songs and secondly, those available had no projects to back it.

“In reality, one of the reasons this category was established was to encourage musicians not to just do a song but back it with some kind of a project. And Gasmilla for instance has done great as mentioned by your panelist. But you also realise its only Gasmilla. When it started, we were having 3, 4, 5 songs in a year. But this year, the only identifiable song is Gasmilla’s hand wash thing. And this is a category people have embarked on projects,” he said.

George Quaye cited some artistes who won the category years ago saying,

“Look at Okyeame Kwame’s hepatitis B thing, Kwabena Kwabena and Save a Life thing, Juliet Ibrahim has a glaucoma project. This is what that particular category was established to do so that it’s not just a song. If it were just a song, one of the finest inspirational songs that could really inspire and bring some kind of community awareness was Wutah’s ‘Big Dreams’. We want you not to just sing it but do it. The board could not find enough songs released that was serving the purpose.

My bane

I, Abrantepa [] find it quite unfortunate for George Quaye to say that earning a nomination for the Music for Development is not by “just a song” but also embarking on a project. An artiste forfeits writing songs which could get him more gigs, records a song for development only to be met by such an utterance is so unfair.

The reason in itself is contradictory. If my memory serves me right, Reggie Zippy won this same category in 2011 without embarking on a project. What has changed? If anything at all, the board should have announced earlier that to be nominated for the Music for Development category at this year’s event, an artiste should embark on a project after releasing a song cut for that category. And who says writing a song in itself is not a project?

Even if what George Quaye said is anything to go by, Gasmilla released a song titled, Fale Fale which was about cleanliness. It did not end there, he shot a video of the song and embarked on clean-up exercises along the beaches of Accra throughout the Homowo festivities. Why then was he not nominated?

For a reason like “The board could not find enough songs released that was serving the purpose” to be made is disheartening. So if you could not find enough songs, should that one person who nailed it not be given the recognition in order to motivate him and other artistes? Must he compete?

The Music for Development Award, sponsored by World Bank is not about popularity; it’s about works which impacted positively on the public so the argument about you wanting many artistes to compete is neither here nor there.

We are just refusing to recognise the sweat of a brother

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