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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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Final steering committee meeting of “French Solidarity Project” held

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On Tuesday 12th December, 2017, a final steering committee meeting was held on the French Solidarity Project geared towards “Strengthening the accountability of Ghana’s central and local government” at the Residence of France.

In attendance were the French ambassador, the Director of research, statistics and information management representing the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD), both of whom co-chaired the committee, the Rector and Deputy rector of Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), Executive Chairman of the State Enterprises Commission, as well as other partner agencies such as the Centre for Democratic Development, FD Associates and the Touton company.

 

Support for public sector reform and the decentralization process

Funded with a budget of €800 000 over a period of 3 years, this project sought to facilitate public sector reform and support the decentralization process. It aimed more particularly at reinforcing accountability through a number of actions: performance contracts, training, open forum and dialogue, ensuring  progress of communication and consultation programs implemented by the ministries, improving the capacity of local government, development of coordinating systems, etc. Another objective of the project was to improve citizen participation by consolidating mechanisms of accountability or transparency. This involved the sensitization of the civil society in order to foster a better appreciation of issues relating to statutory reforms and available tools for keeping policy makers accountable.

The first component of the project was principally based on training, which “represents a crucial element in the strengthening of the public service that, in collaboration with the private sector, will nurture a more vibrant, inclusive and sustainable economic development” Ambassador François Pujolas stated. In this vein, more than 200 civil servants have been trained in various sessions facilitated by visiting French experts from the Ecole Nationale d’Administration (ENA) and Expertise France, whereas 10 civil servants underwent training organised by ENA in Paris. An equal number of women and men have been given this opportunity in each training session.

The ambassador was “pleased with the outcomes of the project, the objectives of which have been attained to a large extent” and emphasized that this project has been “the fruit of an enduring cooperation between France and Ghana, especially in the area of decentralization and the public sector because, since 2006, the French government has disbursed 3.2 million euros to finance three projects within the sector”.

 

Empowering women to participate actively in the public sphere

Furthermore, as a means of promoting citizen participation – especially that of women and youth, a call for projects focusing on the reinforcement of links between civil society and local authorities was launched. Over 10 000 people benefitted from various actions carried out under the initiative. Also, 11 forums bringing together civil society and parliamentarians were organised to encourage interaction between the population and their representatives, in the Western region which served as the pilot site of the project.

The consolidation of the place of women in public discourse and in local governance, as well as the increase in representation of women at the district assembly level were major areas of concern. Sensitization campaigns were embarked upon, resulting in the training and networking of over a hundred women opinion leaders and policy makers.

Finally, the project has enabled the realisation of “green” micro-projects aimed at combatting deforestation, promoting solar energy and fighting global warming.  The co-chairperson of the committee, Madam Dorothy Onny, reiterated the ambassador’s comments by calling on the Ministry of local government and rural development and its partners to explore possible fields of cooperation and future projects to undertake with France in the domain of public sector reform.

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All set for Worlasi’s “Outerlane Concert” tomorrow!

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Worlasi was born and raised in Ghana, and he hails from Agbozume in Volta region. He is a figure painting artist and also a musician. He is a beast of a rapper, producer, singer and songwriter. His songs have been praised for being refreshing and inspiring and his lyrics, unrestrained and African.

Worlasi is an intriguing contrast: hyper confident yet humble, hungry for knowledge and simultaneously overflowing with it. His breakthrough single, Ay3 Adz3 set him apart from his peers. He caps off such focused and realistic lyricism with his mixtape project, Nus3, released in September 2016. Nus3 is a super jumbo bundle of motivation, assertiveness and self- belief. This was his first major project and it already has people calling him a god.

He released a second major project which has also nothing short of breathtaking and shot compelling visuals for two of his singles- One Life and Nukata. Since then he has worked and bagged features with artistes like EL, M.anifest, Hammer of Da Last Two, Sena Dagadu and shared songs with the likes of Sarkodie and Kwaw kese. He has shared stage with some of Ghana’s finest musical acts on platforms such as ACCRA [dot] ALT’s Sabolai Radio, rock group, Dark Suburb’s Awakening concert, Beatphreaks, The Unheard Voices etc.

 Worlasi wraps up this year’s success by performing songs from his upcoming EP (Outerlane) on Saturday, 16th December 2017 at 7pm at the Amphitheatre of Alliance Francaise Accra. The concert would be with the Safoa Band and Fans would be thrilled to a live performance of songs from the Outerlane EP. Also performing would be Alee & Dede, artistes who are signed to Worlasi’s record label.

Other featured artistes for this concert include Manifest, EL, Teephlow, Boyd, Extacy & Kwame X. Save the date and come with your friends and family to enjoy extraordinary mixture of Afro, Rap and Soul music!

 

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‘KOK StopOver Tour’ back this December

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After a successful beginning at Awoshie in the month of September 2017, Koo Ntakra and his friends return on December 16th for another mega street block of the ‘KOK StopOver Tour’.

With over three thousand in attendance at the first stop, the second promises to be sizzling hot inside Bubuashie, BN Pub, Bishop School on Saturday 16th December.

Koo Ntakra who recently released his 2nd studio album ‘KOK’, is to be joined on stage on the night with an array of his colleagues including dancehall diva Renner, Tee Rhyme, Amerado, Phrame, Addi Govnor, Bassaw and a host of other arts, as well as surprises from some of the artists featured on his KOK Album.

The ‘KOK StopOver Tour’ is a Gulfcoast Entertainment & Dekins Entertainment event, powered by Coloured Frutz, with support from ignite Creatives, BankyNation and all our media partner.

The event is a free concept which looks to bring the artists closer to their fans in a more interactive way, as well promote other up and coming talents across board.

 

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Obrafour, STONEBWOY, Pappy Kojo, Medikal, VVIP, others join Kinaata for ‘Made in Taadi Concert’, Dec 23

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Over 20 Artistes are billed to perform at Kofi Kinaata’s 23rd December ‘Made in Taadi Concert.’

The much anticipated concert which will be hosted at Jubilee Grounds in Takoradi will witness 20 known artistes across Ghana thrill the attendees to good music. At a press launch in Takoradi on December 7, Kinaata told the media that he gets calls from his colleague artistes daily who show interest in the concert.

“I get calls daily from my colleague artistes. Some are even ready to pay for their own bills to Takoradi. If people who are outside Takoradi are this eager about the concert, I can only imagine what my Taadi people are waiting for” Kinaata told the media at the Best Western Atlantic Hotel yesterday.

The Public and Media Relations Officer of the concert, Nana Kwesi Coomson mentioned that Obrafour, Stonebwoy, Medikal, VVIP, Kwaw Kese, Pappy Kojo, Donzy, Nero X, Ayesem, Sayvee, Afedzi Perry, Aya, Ayma, Ras Ebo, Snow B and almost every Sekondi-Takoradi Artiste will perform at the concert.

He also reiterates the concert as a “strategy to project the Artistes from Sekondi-Takoradi.”

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Christiana Addo Memorial Foundation to Fete Beneficiaries

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The Christiana Addo Memorial Foundation (CAMF) established in memory of the mother of the MUSIGA President Bice Osei Kuffour aka Obour is to fete youngsters in the Juaso area as part of its activities for the Christmas holidays.

According to Obour, CAMF will undertake a series of clean up exercises in Juaso and Obogu on December 24 and 25 and climax with the Christmas party for the youngsters. In addition to providing the youngsters with entertainment and refreshing them, they will also receive sanitary products from the Foundation to promote their personal hygiene. Some of the items to be presented include personal hygiene products like toothbrushes, toothpastes, deodorants and soap. Meanwhile the Foundation has begun processing application forms from applicants for support for their education.

Speaking at the launch of the Foundation, the Chairman of the Youth Employment Agency (YEA) and National Youth Organizer, Sammy Awuku applauded Obour and his siblings on such a bold initiative to both honor the memory of their late mother while contributing to the socio-economic development of the community. He assured the Foundation of the support of the agency in their operations.

The Asante Akyem South MP Lawyer Asante Boateng on his part commended Obour and his siblings on the establishment of the Foundation and assured them of his support to realize their aspirations.

The Christiana Addo Memorial Foundation will provide scholarships to successful applicants to pursue courses at various levels of their education. CAMF will support brilliant students who are financially handicapped especially the girl child from the deprived rural communities of Juaso and adjoining communities through the provision of scholarships at the tertiary level. The Foundation is also to promote sanitation and personal hygiene as critical pillars to health, survival, and development in the Asante Akyem area.

According to Obour, the decision to establish the foundation is due to his mum’s selflessness and strong, unshakable conviction in education as a lifeline to poverty eradication. He says, knowing the value of education, his mother endured enormous sacrifices to educate him and his siblings. He added that the foundation is also to celebrate the unwavering and strong leadership qualities of Christiana Addo as a role model for all women especially single mothers.

The Christiana Addo Memorial Foundation was set up with the vision to become an organization that impacts lives and helps transform and bring sustainable development to the Asante Akyem Area especially the South, Central and North Districts of the Asante Akyem rural area.

 

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Richard Addisson Foundation Marks Ten Years Of Successive Growth [+images]

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The RICHARD ADDISSON FOUNDATION (TRAF) a non-governmental youth philanthropy is marking 10 years of giving assistance to the less privileged in Ghanaian communities.

TRAF was founded by Richard Addison, the CEO of Kent Investment, a multi-layered firm that currently holds investments in the fields of Agriculture (Kent Farms), haulage services (ARE Haulage Services), an IT/information system and management company (K.SIS) and recently acquired major stake in a Digital Graphics and Advertising company  (Beyound Graphics).

The foundation which was set up to put smiles on the faces of the very poor, needy and under privileged across the country is marking the decade of doing good with the launch of an after school programme in collaboration with Matic Foundation run by Award winning Hiplife act Trigmatic.

The After Work Programme which will be cordinated by Trigmatic, Teachers in the chosen communities benefiting from the programme and leaders of TRAF will focus on Maths and Science, Sex Education and First Aid.

“When charity began at home, me, you and every young adult did not sit down for Bill Gates to dole out money for the eradication of Malaria on our, we gave up a bottle of beer for one treated mosquito net everyday”- Richard Addison

“TRAF started ten years ago by distributing thousands of mosquito nets on annual basis to help eradicate malaria which is a predominant illness killing these poor and needy who sleep around the central business district of Sekondi Takoradi, and also to all the major hospital in the metropolis.”

The Richard Addison Foundation (TRAF), now focuses on projects ranging from farming, provision of water and renovation of schools for deprived communities.

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