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Music of Saturday, 3 April 2004


Music Awards Can Get Better

This year?s Ghana Music Awards ceremony has brought up many issues which have the potential to blow up the whole event. Already some top musicians have threatened to boycott the show.

However, the fact is that the boycotts and noise will not be anybody?s interest. What is important is for all interest parties to put forward constructive suggestions that will help to mould the event into one that will generate little or no controversies.

Unfortunately, it is becoming increasingly clear that some Ghanaians think that award ceremonies such as the Ghana Music Awards are held to distribute prizes to all the nominees.

We should all be reminded that nominations and eventual award winners are determined in line with laid-down criteria and it is only those who meet the set criteria that win the awards on the day of the event.

If only one or two artistes meet the criteria, they take home all the awards period! So the argument that VIP and Daughters of Glorious Jesus should not have swept all the awards is unfounded. The event was not an awards party where everybody was supposed to get a bite. It was a competitive exercise.

Now the question is, For such a competitive event organisers do their homework well? Many believe that the 50 per cent votes given to the public was not fair because that could be manipulated by musicians and music producers who had money to spend. All they needed to do was to buy as many newspapers as they could and vote massively for themselves.

Another disputable point is the issue of gross sales of nominated works. It will be difficult to measure real sales due to the massive piracy in the system. The distributors and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) may not have the right figures so we need to look at that criterion again.

Now it is a bare fact that most of the so-called popular songs enjoy massive air-play and become hits because some (emphasise some) of the radio and television jockeys receive juicy payola from the music producers.

Therefore, the dependence on massive air-play as a criterion for nominating a song for an award has been challenged.

The selection committee has also come under fire for its lack of technical expertise, especially because many of the members are arts writers and radio and television jockeys some of whom have their favourite for whom they are compelled to vote even if their works do not merit awards.

For the songs that are nominated, many have argued that emphasis should be originality, infusion of live instrumentation as well as squeaky clean lyrics, particularly now that the whole nation is fighting against profanity.

Our artistes should be discouraged from producing profane songs, must be taught how to play instruments; depend less on the computer and learn to be original. It is these among other things that will move Ghana to the big platforms around the world.

To achieve these it is suggested that music experts in the various music schools in the country such as the University of Ghana, Legon, University of Education, Winneba, Achimota School and the John Teye Memorial School be invited to help separate the real musicians from the mere singers.

Our music videos also need to be improved. Therefore the selection of the Best Video of the Year should not be left in the hands of people who do not know to switch on a video camera. There are several experts from the National Film and television Institute (NAFTI) as well as some good graduates such as Nana Adwoa Awindor, Dan Kermah and Ivan Quarshigah from the same institute who can select the best video for an award.

In the subsequent events instrumentalist such as drummers, keyboardists, guitarists, percussionist, etc, should be recognized. This will encourage young musicians to l earn to play musical instruments.    

The awards are needed to motivate the musicians so we should all help the organisers to put together a good show that will encourage our artistes to give us what we deserve ? good music.