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Ameyaw Says

Is it time to scrap ‘Artist of the Year’ from the Ghana Music Awards?

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As a keen follower of the Ghana Music Award for over two decades, I have observed how increasingly it has become difficult to award the ‘Artist of The Year’ over the period.

 

Today, I ask whether that category is even necessary? What is the true measure for the artist of the year – be it for a genre or the ultimate? As the current scheme stands, and looking at how winners have been chosen over the years, I doubt there are indeed any standards for scoring and judging the ultimate ‘artist of the year’.

 

An obvious standard for measuring an outstanding artist would first be the body of work. I know the Ghana Music Awards over the years has also considered the level of artistry and the performances of the artist as a key indicator or measure for choosing the artist of the year, which I find pretentious and even contentious because we each look for different things in a performance.

 

So by logic, in choosing an artist of the year, the number of hit songs (good or bad), album or EP ratings, and public ratings would be good indicators. By this logic, Diana Hamilton wouldn’t be the strongest suit for Artist of the Year for the 2021 Vodafone Ghana Music Awards. For the year in review, I honestly only knew of her smash hit song, ‘Adom’. If she had an album, I don’t know of it. She was not nominated for an album or an EP this year; she came into the competition with one strong song, and an obvious backing of ‘industry people’.  Looking at the nominees in the category this year, the others had more than just these attributes!

 

Over the years, we have come to accept the Ghana Music Award scheme as being a judgment of the Board, the Public and the Academy. While I love it for this unique outlook, it comes with its inherent challenges also. And I feel that to preserve the integrity of the awards, some changes need to happen. This includes scrapping off the Artist of the Year category. We have seen the scheme adapt and make changes over the years including new categories, new definitions and more. In fact this year saw the introduction of Afropop/Afrobeats Artist of the Year and EP of the year, to reflect the growing changes in the industry.

 

I think it is about time to build the various genres of the scheme and make them competitive enough for the artists that win each genre to be the top award for each genre, example, Highlife Artist of the Year or Hip-hop artist of the year. For instance for the Grammys, the top awards in the “General Field” are four awards which are not restricted by music genre. These include The Album of the Year, The Record of the Year (which is the Vodafone most popular song of the year in Ghana, and not so much its equivalent), The Song of the Year (which is a songwriter award unlike in Ghana) and The Best New Artist.

 

The ‘Artist of the Year’ unnecessarily makes the awards overly competitive for the musicians, and frankly, it has been proven enough that the Ghana Music Awards scheme does not have what it takes (in terms of the standards I mentioned earlier) to adjudge the ultimate artist of the year in Ghana. For instance, by logic, looking at the nominations this year, Diana Hamilton was the only gospel artist in the ‘artist of the year’ category, which meant that by default she had already been adjudged ‘gospel artist of the year’. Yet, the ‘gospel artist of the year’ is supposed to be a combined judgment of voting by The Board, The Academy and The Public.

 

It’s time to clean up!

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