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    An alternative music awards must come to Ghana

    by Mantse Aryeequaye, spinearth.tv
    posted Friday, 10 April 2009 16:23| 0 Comments
    A lot can change in 10 years.

    It's not weird at all seeing the detachment most musicians feel toward the Ghana Music Awards. For this new generation, it’s viewed as a huge turning point for the music and the people who slave countless nights in mosquito infested studios to make music that ends up in the bootlegging market.

    Award shows are invariably about three things: P.R, Ass Kissing and more P.R. The so called leaders of this none existent industry get together not to honor greatness or artistry but instead to recognize those who most fully exemplify the things that make money and satisfy their sponsors.

    Thus it is with the Ghana Music Awards, Charter House's big annual event, which has become a game show to say the least. What makes money today in Ghanaian entertainment are apparently two things: intellectual simplicity, corny songs forced down your throat by Payola and overt passion.

    Thus the nominations for major awards tend toward works with simple, driving beats, lyrics that express an uncomplicated point of view, pointless hooks and wailing or shrieking vocals that mumble something that can pass for a call and response routine.

    The appeal of canned hit formulas is what dictates the growth and pace of music in Ghana; it has created system, which allows consumers to feel this false sense of individualism. That appears to be a central premise of consumer culture, as it happens.

    To demonstrate the appeal to all types of people the GMA-nominating committees strive for some variety in selecting candidates for the major awards, covering only the types of music they deem worthy—except anything truly ambitious or challenging. It’s become more apparent now those artistes like Wanlov were just included to pitch some sort cosmetic acceptance of music that the Ghana Music Awards wouldn’t usually consider.

    But there is an unusual artistic story here as well, though we won’t see much evidence of it at the Ghana Music Awards.

    Modern digital technology is making music production less expensive, and telecommunications technology is making it ever-easier for independent artists to reach consumers eager for music that is more challenging, enlightening, and, yes, pleasurable than the half-assed products the Ghana Music Awards honor.

    Consequently, there are numerous artists making brilliant music these days, and although they will not win GMAs any time soon, several releases in just the past year demonstrate that a huge number of artists are venturing outside the boundaries to create music that is simultaneously interesting, pleasing, educative, and challenging.

    Genre-mixing and revival of forgotten musical forms are often good ways of generating original music, and some very interesting and unusual recent releases have taken that route. Asem’s "Give me Blow" was definitely the song of the year and Wanlov was Discovery of the Year. The whole world now knows the Ghana Music Awards is a big commercial gimmick that needs to be dismantled if we are to save what is left of our music.

    C-zar might be a hero in his community and many children may be looking to be like him someday, but it doesn’t change the fact that he lacks what it takes to be a talented artiste. Handing out an award to C-zar was the ultimate disrespect to every talented artiste in this country. Hiplife song of the year for C-zar? God please let this be a bad dream. This is ridiculous.

    It will be easier to deal with if those trophies were up for sale and anyone with deep pockets could make arrangements for a couple. That would make more sense actually.

    After ten years we can confidently say that the Ghana Music Awards has lost whatever legitimacy it had in the past. If awards are going to be given out without merit and based on whims as it seems then all artistes with any respect for their art and hard work need to rebel against this system of tyranny that appropriates a culture they know nothing about.

    The only way out now is an alternative awards show, an alternative that will recognize real music and talent.

    The GMA is branded as a platform for overnight success, but over the years that has proved to be untrue. Many of the artistes who struggle for recognition through the Ghana Music Awards don’t seem to be aware of the power they have as musicians. An alternative awards system based on intricate research into Ghanaian genres in a regionally balanced manner. That way it would always be about the hit songs in Accra and Kumasi.

    Artistes should ask themselves what the future will be for them if they can’t even make comments about the GMA when it persistently steps out of line. Blakk Rasta was dropped from the nominations list after he criticized the process. Samini was put in his stead -- have we asked what criteria was used to effect that change?

    What the Ghana Music Awards needs is fierce competition from a well structured platform-plus a legion of independent artistes and labels that are protected against copyright violations and blatant exploitation of artistes which the Ghana Music Awards is noted for.



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