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Opinions of Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Columnist: Kwame Gyan

VGMA2018: A good show, TV3’s seeming pettiness,closing the Ebony chapter and being totally cheated

2018 VGMA has generated a lot of controversies 2018 VGMA has generated a lot of controversies

Let’s give a thunderous round of applause to the folks at Charterhouse Ghana. Let me quickly outline four reasons why we should applaud them:

1. As a private entity with little or no government support, they have carried Ghana’s only creditable entertainment awards franchise for nearly 2 decades.

2. Despite a tough struggle to find adequate sponsorship for the awards, they pull all the stops every year to ensure this happens.

3. They have consistently offered both young and old artists the opportunity to be seen across the world through the TV broadcast of the awards.

4. While similar schemes have withered and died off, this franchise seems to be growing in leaps and bounds.
Recognition ought to be given where it is deserved. Haven said that, shall we look at the awards proper now.

2018 VGMA; A good show.

I think VGMA 2018 was a good show generally. The elements came together nicely and it appears viewers and the audience had a good time. Let’s pick some single items and discuss.

Berla and Dumelo

I am not too sure if we got the pairing right, or if John should have been out there. I run a simple unscientific poll on my wall and John’s ratings were in the lower rungs of 1 to 10 with quite a number of people giving him negatives. Berla was averagely graded. If you know Dumelo, you can tell he was out there having fun and throwing the quips that he will usually throw with his friends or in movie roles he was required to be witty. I personally enjoyed him but many did not. Berla was ok. She didn’t blow my mind like the first time Eazzy stepped out to do this but I liked her.


Folks let’s resign ourselves to the fate that we cannot run the show under reasonable time and we must always drag it into the wee hours of the morning. We are still at the stage where the music awards hangs between been a TV show and an event. Chale sitting down for six hours is no joke. Can’t wait for Theresa Ayoade, George Quaye and the team to fix this.


It was pretty obvious artistes were given time frames within which to perform and they generally tried to do so within the allotted time. The challenge is managing a crack team of performers such that the viewer and audience enjoy their craft. Samini, Sarkodie, Stonebwoy, Joe Mettle, Fancy Gadam, Kidi, Kuami Eugene, King Promise, the Ebony eulogizers of Efya, Mz Vee, Akosua Agyapong and Adina, the back-to-their-senses Praye trio, with support from Nasty C of South Africa and Tiwa Savage of Nigeria, it seemed virtually impossible not to outrun the schedules. Oh on performances, let me try sum things up as best as I can and in as few words as possible on a few of the acts:

Ghana’s Dope Musical Talents

The newly emerged talents of King Promise, Kidi and Kuami Eugene showed us that the future of our music is indeed very bright. See the dexterity and guts Kidi had to start his act with a rendition of his own hit song before switching it up and handling live band in a way that Samini will envy at that stage of his career. King Promise, strutting an unusual camboo did his thing and owned the stage and Kuami Eugene crowned a good show for that window.

Stonebwoy and Sarkodie have had better days. That notwithstanding however, Sarkodie showed his dynamism by having a choir on stage and mixing up styles we are not used to from him before taking us back to some of his biggest hits. Stonebwoy on the other hand keeps growing and his comfort to handle live band on a big stage has improved and we love that about him.

Samini is a legend.
Samini is evergreen.
Samini is the star performer.
Samini is the show stopper.
Samini showed us that he is a master and he is the type of master who has an ear for fresh talent and is bold and generous enough to have them share a stage as big as the music awards with him.

Closing the Ebony Chapter?

It was touching what Adina, Akosua Agyapong (whom my friend Nana Awere Damoah says has maintained the same dance for more than 30 years), Efya and MzVee did for the memory of Ebony by doing her songs in exciting ways. Indeed the sad way she passed means that anything that touches on her work is met with nostalgia.
When Ebony was posthumously crowned Artist of the Year, she became the first to win the award posthumously. She became the first woman to win the artist of the year accolade. She became the first artist to win the award in the quickest of time after entering the industry. Remember she lost the new artist of the year to Fancy Gadam just last year.

I was appalled however at the behavior of Bullet, Ebony’s manager, at the awards. Yes it’s important to move on but any smart person will choose his words carefully bearing in mind his surroundings. He chose the evening to introduce two big bummed girls as his new talent he has signed to his label. He brought these girls each time on stage and spoke about them oblivious of the obvious. In his perfume rice English (a friend said Bullet speaks English like perfume rice; perfume rice, as you know, ‘comes out one by one’), he chose the occasion to brag about writing ‘95% of all of Ebony’s songs’ and simply carried himself in a way that annoyed viewers than made us have sympathy for him and his label.

Hopefully this closes the Ebony chapter. She’s been laid to rest, she’s won the top most award, her manager has misbehaved enough and we have seen the forlorn faces of her parents enough over the past two months. I think it’s time we move on. Bullet should spare us his nonsense and hopefully her family will not allow themselves to be needlessly dragged into the spotlight.

Did TV3 deliberately blackout Nana Aba?

So the awards were showed on TV3 and two other smaller local stations who picked the feed from Charterhouse via an OB van. Multichoice also showed it on Africa Magic and GoTV. They picked the feed directly from the venue. Those watching it on TV3 had a blackout when Nana Aba Anamoah, who famously parted ways with the station that brought her recognition, came on stage with the Trace Anglophone Manager to present an award. It was so timely social media, especially Twitter and Facebook went bonkers at what people described as TV3’s pettiness.

I am reliably told however that, apparently an equipment in the OB was not properly plugged and had been running on battery for hours only to give up at the point Nana Aba of all people in this world was speaking. This may be true. But we know the coincidence was too apt for us to ignore or believe whatever TV3 will say. If it was anyone else speaking when it happened, there won’t be any wahala. Life, abi?

Awards and winners

I think we had perhaps the tightest nominations in the history of the music awards. I stand to be corrected. When you look at the various artists in each category, there were several that I personally said ‘anyone who wins this deserves it’. The only categories that were most predictable was that gospel ones where Joe Mettle has been dominant for years and had no competition this year. I felt King Promise deserved something and I am disappointed he went home empty handed.

Most Popular Song controversy

One award was however hugely disagreed with on social media. And I disagreed too. For the Vodafone Most Popular Song, it is determined along three lines of voting. There is the board voting, academy voting and the public voting. I personally trust the Academy and Board and believe in their voting pattern. This is because they are industry people and understand the terrain. The public are however most subjective and because of the design of the system, it is easy for artist to manipulate the system and garner more votes than they deserve.

Total Cheat by Fancy Gadam featuring Sarkodie, was adjudged the most popular Song. You and I both know it couldn’t possibly be the most popular song in a category that had Joe Mettle – Bo No Nii, Shatta Wale – Ayoo, King Promise – Oh yeah, Sarkodie ft Runtown – Painkiller , Patapaa – One Corner, Ebony – Sponsor, Kuami Eugene – Angela, Kidi – Odo, Shatta Wale ft The Militants -Taking Over, Magnom – My Baby, Captain Planet ft Kofi Kinaata – Obi Agi Obi Girl, Wutah – Bronya. But that’s what the vote compilation indicated. Sadly.

Stop the ‘Did you vote’ Nonsense

The public voting system been used allows for multiple voting by mobile phone subscribers. What this means is that, what Fancy Gadam probably did was to encourage a number of people to vote multiple times or even better, buy airtime worth a few thousands of cedis and vote on. I am sure if an audit is done of the votes, we will have a numbers voting several times. This system helps the organizers as they rake in revenue from the voting. This may be the reason why this system is continuously been used. Remember what Atom said two years ago when he picked up an award?

The other alternative Charterhouse has is to easily develop a system where each mobile number or IP address is allowed one vote only. This may be the right way to go as it will increase confidence in the system and prevent undeserving artist from cheating their way to glory. Of course it will also mean Charterhouse will lose some good revenue from the multiple voters.

This completely means the popular phrase ‘did you vote’ is essentially an empty one as one person can sit in the comfort of his room and essentially out-vote the whole country. It may be time to modify that public vote system.

The World of Troll had a Feast

Oh my days did we have a good laugh with the trolls! Our sense of humor as a people is simply incredible. From tweets and posts to videos and photos, social media was awashed with so much troll material that many laughed harder than they bargained for.

Trolls were flying left, right and center on especially what people wore to the show. John Dumelo, Berla Mundi, TooSweet Annan, Patapaa, Obuor, King Promise, Kidi, all got their fair share of punches. Others were taken on for what they said.

Final Verdict

We all love the music awards. But most of us do not realise how much it costs to put it together. Aside the monetary component of it, the man hours, logistics and planning that is involved is intense. Reason I started off by commending Charterhouse. You may say anything you want. But they remain the only serious outfit who care about the industry enough to keep doing this for 20 years NON-STOP!

Charterhouse has had a variety of sponsors support them over time. However some key sponsors have also pulled out over the past few years. This has meant a financial constraint for them. Despite the recognition the state gives to the award, they have to pay for the use of the venue, even though it is very possible for the state to absorb that cost.

It is an event to recognize artistes and their works, yet some of them feel they must charge organizers full commercial rates to perform at their own recognition ceremony. There is this notion that the organisers make a tonne of money so everyone wants a piece of some big imaginary pie. Elsewhere, the honour of performing in front of the entire country with your colleagues in the audience would have been the point of pride but not here. Artist and their management must help the scheme especially as they respect it and can’t wait to add ‘award-winning’ as a prefix to their names.

Government also needs to support this wholeheartedly. This presents an excellent example for a Private-Public Partnership. Let’s bear in mind that we have all watched ACRAG and ECRAG go to waste and this remains the only credible scheme to recognize and reward players in an industry as important as music.

Good job Charterhouse! Congratulations all winners! See you again next year!