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FEATURE: Of the 2017 Ghana Music Awards

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Medikal didn’t perform his hit single Too Risky in full. Towards the end of the song –the last in a quick playlist for his set, he pulled girlfriend Deborah Vanessa by the hand a bit too strongly, plucked his white face towel from a prop behind him, and vanished through the exit to the left. “Forget everybody!”, he yelled, finally. That gesture was a manifestation of his frustration at what a fiasco the night was turning out for him.

If the AMG Business rapper had lost out on any of the six other categories he had been nominated in at Saturday night’s VGMAs, surely, he was not going to lose out on Best New Act – but he did, to a relatively less popular Fancy Gadam –and that has made all the difference. Well, that, and a couple of other things.

It is in the nature of award schemes to render jaw-dropping moments, and the Ghana Music Awards is no exception. So, it is important for us all to calm down at some point. Still, some surprises are more surprising than others – like the curious case of Medikal etc.

Medikal was overly optimistic about a happy ending to his first ever VGMAs. It started several weeks earlier. In Still Pampee, a single he released immediately the nominees were announced, he bragged: “small boy wonder, seven nominations/sake of I be the best inna the nation”. Though his losing out on all 7 awards is both unfair and enough to significantly break his spirit, it is yet another sad tale of what an artist’s inability to manage his optimism with this scheme (which has failed many acts before him) can lead to.

Reggae singer Ras Kuuku also tasted this sour lesson when he lost both Reggae/Dancehall categories to Stonebwoy. Earlier on the red carpet, he had joked that his votes were the reason for perceived “over voting this year”, exuding wonderful fearlessness in spite of Stonebwoy et al, his competition. First of all, no Reggae/Dancehall category today, which has Stonebwoy in there as a nominee, is exactly a fair fight. Still, the Puom regent was shocked. Disgusted. He shot to his feet. His hype man too. And then he roared something at hostess Anita Erskine, who interpreted it as an answer to the question she had just asked: who picks up Artist of the Year? Fumed, both artist and hype man made for the exit to the back of the auditorium. They walked past many faces too frozen in bewilderment to say a word. At the exit, Ras Kuuku turned sharply, and yelled “akronfuo nkuaa”“Thieves!”, presumably at organisers.

Ras Kuuku

A similar incident from 2013 immediately replaced in my eyes, the episode they had just witnessed –incidentally, also dancehall-related. Shatta Wale had just lost Reggae/Dancehall Song of the Year to Kaakie, and it had proven too much to contain. Kicking angrily, he bawled in Pidgin, a similar sentiment – he was being cheated by the system. It appears that the incident served as springboard for his widespread stardom thereafter…starting with with diss songs at Kaakie and Charterhouse. Will we witness something similar with Kuuku in coming years? Does this mark a true entry to mainstream circles? Well…

Recurring technical glitches held up the main event till half -past 10, though a glamorous red carpet session earlier had passed off perfectly. It was hosted by Berla Mundi and Elikem Kumordzie, and as usual, witnessed elegance and strange fashion in equal measure. Unlike Berla, this was a new challenge for actor/ designer Elikem, who goes by the alias “The Tailor”. Many feared (seeing how he’s a respected name in contemporary Ghanaian style, but has not accrued as much experience as host of events thus) that he was a wild card, in the sense that he would bring onboard a ravenous desire to impose his fashion awareness on guests, or that he would be intimidated by the platform of the VGMA red carpet. But as it turned out, he was the perfect mélange of both worlds. He did dispatch his role remarkably, with charm and genuineness, eloquence and appeal.

Elikem The Tailor

Patrons grew impatient because the main event was dragging, significantly, and major embarrassment loomed. Organizers kept running around in frenzied efforts to rectify what looked like a power emergency –something many claim to be an attempt to sabotage the event. By whom? I don’t want any trouble.

“At exactly 8.40 pm, just at the strike of the drum for the amazing opening performance by the Accra Symphony Orchestra and Lumina, we suddenly lost all power losing some equipment in the process. The fluctuations that would follow are simply unprecedented and inexplicable. Regrettably the event started 2 hours later than scheduled; for which we are deeply sorry”, an official press statement from Charterhouse explained.

Eventually (and thankfully), the show was back up, and the Accra Symphony Orchestra returned to complete a compelling opening act which was truncated the first time due to the technical situation. A superb mix of spoken word, choral arrangements and indigenous rhythms, it proved to be a rich journey through the various stages in the development of music from these parts.

The whole country shuts down for this night when it come around. It is the one thing social media discusses, and there’s a massive yearn for television viewing. More than six television channels on Free-to-air (FTA) and Pay TV got rights to show the event this year, and Vodafone’s livestream of the event was widely patronised, especially internationally.  Like it usually is with football, it is highly emotional business, and the debates can be very political.

The 18th edition, the Vodafone-sponsored Ghana Music Awards main event was compered by seasoned broadcaster Anita Erskine. She was aided on the turntables by Joy FM’s DJ Black in the shadows behind. With his familiar Big Brother-esque baritone and nimble music fingers, he provided expert support for Erskine, who ran the prestigious event with the facility of an experienced Waakye seller. A true master hostess, she serves as the only female superintendent of the ceremony since its institution nearly two decades ago, though the likes of Doreen Andoh, Eazzy, Dentaa, Naa Askorkor and Joselyn Dumas have all been engaged in supporting roles. Switching in and out of one brilliant costume or another, and with the venerable style which is an amalgamation of superior proficiency and inborn flair, she ensured a decent flow of performances and award presentations.

Ace broadcaster Anita Erskine was host for the night

Three smiling women, clad in long cloth walked gracefully unto the stage to rousing cheers in the middle of the show. Audience members instantly recognized them from evergreen traditional band Wulomei. Equipped with an unmatched repertoire of folk classics and stage charm befitting only of legends, they affected a relatively young crowd even more efficiently than contemporary performers who took to the stage. All through their act, they kept the entire audience on their feet, with the pulse of their waist twirls, and the everlasting youth of their craft.

Backed not only by a well-proven Patch Bay Band (which had produced the Instrumentalist of the Year earlier in the night) but also by an exquisite status as national symbols, these three queens curated easily and without doubt, one of the most pronounced highlights at the event in terms of performance. The perfectly reenacted konga patterns and string arrangements invoked fervent nostalgia in the marrows of a hypnotised crowd as they chanted along to timeless choruses from the immortal “KK Mingbo” medley.

This performance by Wulomei, together with an energetic rendering by another veteran act Charles Amoah (groove and ponytail intact even after this many decades), demonstrated to all – audience and young performers alike, the permanence of true class. You could be told, or even read about it, but there’s always something significant about witnessing it for yourself –for what better exhibition of a stage craftsmanship demonstrative of authentic Ghanaian music than these two, to Kofi Kinaata for instance, who frequently gasped for breathe during his two-song set, and who also won big in the highlife categories –a genre which is founded on top-notch live performances? What better examples than Wulomei and Charles Amoah?

It is also admirable how gospel act Nacee was able to line up esteemed colleagues including SP Kofi Sarpong, Gifty Osei, Celestine Donkor, Ernest Opoku, and a host of others for his set. Their rendition of W’aseda Nie, the notable 2001 worship tune by mentors Stela Seal, Dorcas Appiah, Rev. Kusi Berko, Yaw Agyeman Benjamin, Nana Yaw Asare, and Amy Newman (collectively called the Gospel All Stars), was both a refreshing and worthy tribute in a year specifically set aside for reflection and remembering heroes.

Nacee

Without debate, this year was one for Gospel. Nacee snatched Album of the Year from favourite M.anifest, who had a great night by the way –walking home with laurels for Hip-hop Song of the Year, and Best Rapper of the Year, and making bold artistic impressions with the help of broadcaster/ choral singer Kokui, Worlasi, and monster deck handler DJ Keyzuz. Joe Mettle won for Best Male Vocal Performance (usually won by secular acts), and Artist of the Year – the first Gospel act to achieve it since that award was named as the most coveted.

Controversial or not, Joe Mettle winning Artist of the Year is an important statement for the gospel fraternity, who had embarked on a massive campaign weeks before, arguing that he was not merely good enough to be nominated for the ultimate prize, but was good enough to win it too, despite EL, and Stonebwoy, and MzVee, and Medikal, and Sarkodie. People wondered what “true hit song” he had released in the year under review, or whether his visibility all through the year surpassed his competitors, but the masterminds behind the campaign of “Gospel Artist can be Artist of the Year too” would not be distracted. Articles flooded the internet and print media, pointing out his numerous  achievements in 2016. UK-based Sonnie Badu, Jeshrun Okyere, and Nacee, and a host of other gospel acts all publicly backed their comrade. It worked. He won it. Nacee, when he was on the red carpet, or when he went up to pick his own awards, was steadfast in his solidarity with Joe Mettle for Artist of the Year. When Mettle was announced, it was as though it was he (Nacee) who had won. Together with Jesrun Okyere and other fraternity colleagues also overcome with the joy of this victory, Nacee joined Mettle onstage, screaming and patting him on his back and shoulder.

But this is what is sobering, like it or not: the ambience in the auditorium was bereft of the pandemonium usually accompanying that ultimate announcement. A similar air hovered when Nacee beat M.anifest to win Album of the Year, or when former Dobble member Paa Kwesi went up to accept the prize for Most Popular Song of the Year. Dobble’s Christy was popular, but it won the award ahead of  such songs as Joey B’s You x Me, Sarkodie’s RNS, Article Wan’s  Solo, FlowKing Stone’s Go Low, Stonebwoy’s People Dey etc.  On all three occasions, there was a near-tactile mood of  “did they really deserve it?”. That question always rises the morning after the night before, so we shall leave it at that.

It appears that because Joe is a Gospel singer, and Ghanaians a very religious people, one can’t contest what credentials got him to beat EL, Stonebwoy, MzVee, Medikal, Sarkodie without being perceived as “touching God’s anointed and doing His prophet harm”. Joe may have deserved the award on merit, but eventually, the entire nation must be sufficiently convinced of that, else in the future, there’ll be a similar agenda by the jazz community, or the Traditional Music community, or the accapella community once they chalk slight mainstream recognition, all to solicit a kind of affirmative action at the detriment of those truly deserving…as versus putting in the work and actually earning it, and that will not necessarily be a good look for a scheme already considered suspect by many.

“As children of God, sometimes we get things we don’t deserve”, is simply Joe’s response to skeptics of his mettle as far as the Artist of the Year was concerned. A profound statement, it also somewhat fuels the debate concerning whether was his mettle soley that got him the award.

VGMA 2017 Artist of the Year, Joe Mettle

Joe Mettle dedicated the award to music maestro, the late Minister Danny Nettey, who has been a major influence in his current success. To fellow  gospel acts, Joe pointed to a silver lining: “As you all know, this is for gospel, this is for Christianity. And for every gospel musician in this house, the door is open.”

 

The 2017 Ghana Music Awards is a Charterhouse Ghana production. It is sponsored by telecoms giant Vodafone. Previous winners of the topmost prize include Akyeame (1999), Daddy Lumba (2000), Kojo Antwi (2001), Lord Kenya (2002), Kontihene (2003), V.I.P (2004, 2011), Obour (2005), Ofori Amponsah (2006), Samini (2007), Kwaw Kese (2008), Okyeame Kwame (2009), Sarkodie (2010, 2012), R2Bees (2013), Shatta Wale (2014), Stonebwoy (2015), and E.L (2016).

 

Here are more photos from the event:

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Bola Ray mentors 30 YOUNG BUSINESS LEADERS, October 19!

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Media mogul Bola Ray ( Nathan Kwabena Anokye Adisi) will hold a mentoring session with young Ghanaian business leaders on Thursday, October 19.

A renowned entrepreneur and corporate icon, Bola Ray looks to renew the passions of “tomorrow’s business leaders”, taking them through his own experiences, and his road to success.

Recently publishing his best-selling memoire “It is Possible”, Bola Ray is CEO of the EIB Network and the Empire Group, and has been a key media player for 2 decades now.

Bola Ray joined radio while still in university, Bola Ray has grown to become an authority not just in radio broadcasting, but in the entertainment industry as a whole. He joined Accra-based Top Radio after university and went on to The Multimedia Group, where he served a variety of roles, mainly hosting Drivetime on Joy for 11 years. For the past two years, he has been host of Starr Chat and co-host of Starr Drive.

Dubbed “An Evening With Bola Ray – Accra Edition”, the event is put together by Empire Protocol, with support from uniBank, StarLite, RLG World, Allianz Insurance, Dominion Oil, MenzGold, and Special Ice.

Copies of Bola Ray’s book can be secured via bolaray.com

 

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Stonebwoy, LIL WIN perform @ GOtv MAX Kumasi launch!

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Over the weekend in Kumasi, GOtv Ghana hosted a massive concert to introduce its new package GOtv MAX to the public. The event held at the Kumasi City Mall, attracted thousands of concert goers who defied the heavy downpour to enjoy the music and fireworks display.

The event was nearly marred by the rain storm that started immediately the first set of performers hit the stage. Fans were forced to take shelter within the mall for well over three hours until the storm passed through and the equipment were checked and given the green light for the concert to resume at 10pm.

General Manager, GOtv Ghana, Kingsley Afful performing the launch reaffirmed the commitment of GOtv to bring its subscribers the best local and international TV shows first, hence the introduction of the GOtv MAX package. He explained that “Quality entertainment has always been a key focus on GOtv platform and we are excited to continue building our entertainment options for our customers by bringing them this new package”.

“We understand that times are tough but that doesn’t mean that our customers have to miss out on world-class entertainment. Sports just got bigger and better with the GOtv MAX package which will bring the best football titles in the world, La Liga, along with more entertainment choice for the whole family like CBS Reality, Sony Max and FOX.”

GOtv MAX customers will enjoy access to over fifty channels of the hottest local and international channels featuring everything from the freshest series, music and sport to the latest in fashion reality, celebrity and kiddies programming.  “From 1st October, all active GOtv Plus subscribers have been automatically upgraded onto the GOtv Max package at no cost to them to sample this new package for one full month”, Mr. Afful added.  He also announced a reduction on the price of GOtv decoders to GHs79 and the subscription price cuts on the GOtv Plus package to GHs35.

Fans were entertained by Stonebwoy and the BossNations’ CEO, the pride of Kumasi, Lil Win and crew. Several fans were rewarded with GOtv decoders as part of the launch activities by the artistes. The event was culminated in a huge firework display deep into the night to the delight of the thousands present at the event.

 

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SAMSUNG, Ecobank Launch GALAXY NOTE 8 in Ghana!

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Electronics giant Samsung has partnered with Ecobank to deliver the much-anticipated Galaxy Note 8 device to smartphone lovers in Ghana.

The two companies jointly introduced the Galaxy Note 8 unto the Ghanaian market with an easy payment plan that can enable Ghanaians to purchase the device.

Described as the next level Note, the Galaxy Note 8 targets consumers who want to do bigger things with smartphones. With Galaxy Note 8, consumers get a bigger Infinity Display that fits comfortably in one hand, the S Pen to communicate in more personal ways and Samsung’s best-ever smartphone camera to capture stunning photos.

Speaking at the launch, Eugene Nahm, Managing Director of Samsung Ghana, the technology manufacturer continues to uphold its commitment to lead the industry in battery safety. The Galaxy Note 8 battery has undergone the 8-Point Battery Safety Check process hence making it the safest smartphone in the world.

Mr Dan Sackey, Managing Director of Ecobank Ghana stated that the partnership with Samsung will give more access to their clients, it will also enable them spend less time in banking halls in order to have enough time to do the things they love.

According to the bank, one can pay GHc14 a day over a 12-month period for the device.

Renowned Ghanaian artist Bright Ackwerh did a live display of the S Pen and gave a testimony of how the device makes it easier for him to sketch his artworks.

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Classics is not a ‘dead’ course – Prof. Olakunbi Olasope

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Professor Olakunbi Olasope, an associate professor of Classics at the University of Ibadan has stressed on the importance of the study of Classics and stressed that Classics offered a window through which the foundations of modern politics, social and economic life could be understood. According to her, classics shaped our ideas of freedom of speech, the rule of law, democracy, equality, ethics, and human rights.

Citing the example of the sex strike by Kenyan women which caused opposing leaders Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga to reconcile, Professor Olasope referred to the ancient antecedent in Lysistrata, a comedy written in 411BC by Aristophanes, in which Lysistrata convinced women of Greece to withhold sexual favours from men as a means of forcing them to sign a treaty to end the Peloponnesian War.

She said that Ghana and Africa should not imitate the West blindly, but study and adapt or modify the past to suit their unique problems, and added that Classics offered such opportunity to the nation.

Prof. Olasope made these comments at the maiden panel discussion on the topic; “The relevance of philosophy and classics to Ghana’s development” organised by the Association of Philosophy and Classics Students in collaboration with the Department of Philosophy and Classics at the University of Ghana on 10th October 2017. The event brought together over 400 students and lecturers from the Philosophy and Classics departments of the University of Ghana. It also had experts in human resource, accountancy and social enterprise present to share how industry accommodates students with Philosophy and Classics backgrounds.

The event was also attended by graduate and teaching assistants, and lecturers in the department, including the former head of Philosophy and Classics Professor Kofi Ackah, and the patron of the association Mr Michael Okyere Asante. Other lecturers in attendance were Dr Caesar Atuire, Ms Bernice Adamson and Ms Gifty Etornam Kemevor.

 

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DJ Mic Smith to shutdown Accra with the biggest DJ Concert In Ghana as part of his 10th year anniversary

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Sunday October 22nd will be etched in the memories of many Ghanaians as a tall list of top stars converge at the Accra Mall food court to party and pay tribute to the contribution of DJ Mic Smith to the Ghanaian and international music industry.

For the past decade, Mic Smith known in real life as Michael Owusu-Smith has demonstrated a monstrous mastery of his craft. His flawless control of the turntables has endeared him to the hearts of many in Ghana and across the shores of the country. So on an occasion to recognize his efforts in putting the country on a different pedestal, “A” list DJS like Andy Dosty, DJ Kess, Nigeria’s finest, DJ Neptune, DJ Mensa, Killa Fingers, DJ Vyrusky are amongst the DJs on rotation to celebrate with him in mega style.

The Shutdown King as he is affectionately called has paid his dues both to the music and Djing fraternity.

So on the night, expect artiste like Mr. Eazi to take things easy as he delivers explosive tunes from his arsenal. E.L, A.I, Magnom, Kojo Cue, are also part of a tall list of performers to thrill patrons at the free concert dubbed SHUTDOWN 2017.

About DJ Mic Smith

Micheal Owusu known as DJ Mic Smith is an event, club, radio, mixtape and artist DJ and also an entrepreneur from the republic of Ghana.

He also currently holds several nominations from Ghana DJ Awards; The Redbull club DJ of the year awardMic Smith is also the official DJ for international Afrobeats star Mr Eazi signed to the highly successful Ghanaian record label Miester Music .

Mic began DJing by “accident” when looking for a job over 10 years ago, where he had an embedded passion for music and allowed this to take more of a forefront in his life than it had previously. At Hot fm (93.9) in the early stages of 2008, he started as a radio presenter who presented the entertainment news on the Drive Time Show hosted by Okyeame Quophi. Within a year of life in the media world. Mic began spinning, his talent was pushed to the next level, when he became resident DJ at one of the most recognised clubs in Accra, Rockstone’s Office known to many as Django. Over the years he was the main focus entertainment at the club and his talent on the decks quickly earned him the nickname ‘The Shutdown King’ exposing him to many opportunities including national and international gigs.

 

 

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Miss Sabina Awuni is 2017 Miss Ghana UK the Jubilee Queen

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“This was an exceptional show and a night to remember with amazing memories. As always, our God came through and didn’t fail us and all glory goes to him.  The competition was tight and not easy to call. But in all, we couldn’t have achieved all these without the support of all our partners and sponsors”.

These were the words of Ms Cilla Gyewu, a representative of the Miss Ghana UK Foundation, after this year’s edition of the grand finale of the Miss Ghana UK beauty pageant, held on Saturday 30th September at Gaumont Palace (formerly known as Dominion Centre) came to a successful end.

At the end of 6  rounds of exciting showing, Miss Sabina Lawabea Awuni rose up to the occasion to be counted and was declared as the winner of the topmost award on the night, the 2017 Miss Ghana UK Queen being the edition of the most popular beauty pageant across Europe.

Miss Sabina Lawabea Awuni is a twenty – Three (23) year old a graduate and currently working as an instructor in Training & Development Administrator from Kent in the United Kingdom. She appeared to have impressed the judges with her elegance and smartness to make her won a little bit easier considering the fierce competition witnessed from the very first round.

The first runner-up was twenty-one (21) year old Miss Rachel Osei-Tutu, a university student from Buckinghamshire and the second – runner-up was Miss Francyn Amuah – Fuster who is twenty – five (25) years and an Accounts Assistant from Enfield.

The 2017 Miss Ghana UK was sponsored by World Remit, Blue Rose Real Estate (GH), VLISCO, Ghana Tourism Authority, Konfidence Hair, Sinai Beauty, Ghana Cocoa Marketing Company Limited, Cans Noire, ORS, Elizabeth Arden, Jackie Johnson, Zeeks Concepts and Shea Glo, Laboro, Pam’s Cakes, Uncle John’s Bakery, JD Fitness, Official Media Partner ABN TV and Radio.

Other partners are Ahomka Radio, CTLR World, Fab Photography, Afropulp, Osess, Flash Africa, Ghana Fashion Marketing (GH), Prompt Communication (GH), Eventsgh, Cypress Ghana, Savvy Concierge and On Point Property and Gold, Radiant Foundation, Pen2 Paper, Ghana Youth Day, Malika Sang (Promo Video).

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