Pulse Contributor and entertainment critic Kwame Gyan reviews the just ended 2016 edition of the Vodafone Ghana Music Awards
This is according to me, and quite a number of people I run into at the Accra International Conference Centre and on my social media commentary threads. Yes, it didn't start on time. Yes, Chris and Naa didn't hit it off right from the start.
Yes, the Lifetime Achievement Award presentation was a mess. But all in all, I think this year's awards have surpassed the 16 others preceding it.
Yes there were issues with timing as always. I think it is a Ghanaian disease that may require some miraculous occurrence to cure. I recall speaking with Nabil Alhassan of Events Factory after he had returned from the AMVCAS put together by Africa Magic from DSTV. He told me that even though the event was held in the same hotel the guests slept in, the Ghanaian celebrities still got to the auditorium late. What is remarkable about this though was that there was was a very deliberate attempt to stick to time.
Giovanni Caleb, formerly of YFM said on radio that, "the red carpet has ended with more than 90% of the celebrities not showing up". I am dead sure these guys had wanted us to see what they wore and to also be seen and heard on TV. So yea, ignoring them to move on with the show was a good idea. The show may have lasted some four hours, but that surely was way better than the 6, 7 hours we have been dealt with in the past few years.
Chris Attoh is a veteran of the VGMA. He's done it before until this year and we know he's good at this. Naa Ashorkor is still a growing star and can only get better. They may have had some hiccups from the start but that got sorted out very quickly. They duo didn't wow me but they got the job done and DJ Black as a third MC cum announcer was at his usual best. I have a pronounced feeling that the two may not have spent enough time together prior to this to increase the chemistry between them. But hey, the job got done effectively even if it was without a memorable spark.
On the bill we had good mix that represented a majority of the genres of music we were entertained with in 2015.
I saw snaps from some of Charterhouse friends that showed the guys rehearsing ahead of the big day. I think generally it paid off. It sure did.
Sarkodie showed us how versatile he was and reminded us he is Ghana's own rap god.
Kofi Kinaata showed us that he is a bundle of talent and is just waiting to explode.
EL proved to us that he has matured and is not afraid to try new stuff as he used a choir to give a very memorable opening.
Efya reminded us of the talent she has been blessed with. She was audacious, absolutely confident and totally entertaining so much so that most of you may have forgotten she sang just one song.
Bisa Kdei seemed to have been given an octave lower than he must have wanted. It was the best performance I have seen from him but he still failed to let us know that 2 of the biggest songs of 2015 came from him.
Joe Mettle gives me hope for our rather dull gospel industry. There is some genuineness about that man that makes me like him a lot.
Pae Dae, AKA Omar Sterling wants us not to forget that he is a rapper and he did so quite forcefully before Mugeez joined in for the R2Bees duo to tell us that a few years back they were the hottest item and they still have it in there.
Stonebwoy affirmed his status as one of the very biggest stage performers of this generation. When the crowd finishes off your songs for you, then you know you arrived long ago.
Adomaa was different. She gives me the impression Efya has competition coming up.
With the exception of a few categories, I think I can safely say that I was not surprised much. I think Omar Sterling's Nineteen Ninety should have won the hip pop song and not Sarkodie's Hand to Mouth. I didn't expect EL to win the Artist of the Year. I remarked to Joy FM'S Lexis Bill midway through the event that it is very possible that EL could emerge the biggest winner of the night, and then he did.
Quite a number of people also expected Bisa Kdei to win the main award. But I had argued weeks before that much as the Mansa hitmaker fulfills the qualification for the award, certain attributes about him made him unprepared to carry that title. In wasn't surprised he didn't win.
I have followed EL for sometime and I think he has grown over the years as an artist. Bisa must prove to us that 2015 was not artist fluke, and then he shall have a lot more people clamouring for him to win the biggest title we have.
I don't know also how Bisa Kdei's Breakthrough won Album of the Year. In my books, either Elom from EL or Mary from Sarkodie deserved that one. But largely I think we had deserving winners on the night.
I am both a PR and Brands person and I couldn't help but notice how Vodafone had their stamp on the event. Right from outdoor branding away from the venue through to venue brand visibility, on stage presence, and the Red Room experience created for staff and special guests of Vodafone, it was impossible to ignore the main sponsors of the awards. Brands take search visibility seriously and rightly so. Whoever handled Vodafone's visibility needs a pat on the back. I would have envied that if I was still in the telco industry.
Let's take the Lifetime Achievement Award seriously
It is a very very big deal to honour anyone with an award titled LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD. Think about the word LIFETIME. It has Life and Time fused together. It's a big deal. A very big deal. My biggest disappointment on the night was the way AB Crenstil was 'honoured'. It was unprepared, disrespectful, mediocre and grossly insulting to the man. Nothing wrong with learning from elsewhere.
At the BET, current stars render editions of the songs that have made the winner legendary. We see videos of what he's done and all that makes the recipient feel honoured. What we saw - a mere announcement of the recipient, he walking up the stage and picking the plaque and then Obour corners him to sing one song himself - was the way it shouldn't be dome. Even Adomaa had a reel of sorts to welcome her. Efya had a mini documentary and Uncle AB got nothing. We could have done better.
For some unforeseen reason some people have always chastised Charterhouse, organisers of the Ghana Music Awards for one thing or the other. The truth though is that as of now, they are the only folks who have started and maintained the only reward scheme for our music industry. You may have people punch holes into their every action buy truth is that they have kept at this and improved upon it. The 17th edition was broadcast on a pan- African TV channel that allowed millions across Africa to watch our big stars perform.
As long as I have been watching these awards, this year's has been the best in my books and I reckon it is because Charterhouse has been listening and reading and working on improving this. And yes, it will be great to have another reward scheme for the industry. We used to have the ECRAG Awards, and then Sunshine Awards, and then MUSIGA experimented with the MUSIGA Honors. All these did not last. Much as it will be great to give the GMAs some competition, we should in the interim doff our hats to the folks at Charterhouse for a job very well done.
Followers of Ghana’s biggest TV night will attest to the fact that this year’s events saw a lot of improvement. I remember the killing light effects of last year; the wandering on to the stage of artiste’s hangers-on; the massing up of 20 performers with a number of them not showing any relevance ahead of the awards; the massive controversies that always surround the awards; award presenters delivering 5 minute speeches ahead of their presentations and the awkward dialogues and stale jokes we were subjected to; the screaming of Nat Attoh from last year and Joselyn Dumah driving our attention to her figure instead of the awards; then the nearly traditional 6,7 hour routines we were subjected to – it is an endless list of things that have improved this year. Some people may want to disregard the importance of these awards to the industry. But whiles at it they forget the fact that it is currently the ONLY scheme artistes look up to in Ghana. Some other artistes that want to make us believe it is no big deal whether or not they are recognized with awards or not, are quick to add “VGMA nominee” to their profiles. Thy are also quick to fly outside the country to pick up less significant honours from little known organizations such as Ghanaian Community in Bremen for example.
We grow this, we grow the industry.
CHECK ALSO : FULL LIST OF WINNERS AT VGMA 2016