This is the first in ENews editor, Gabriel Myers Hansen’s three-part interview with 3Music Awards CEO Sadiq Abdullai Abu, on the scheme’s intention, its place in Ghana’s event and awards ecosystem, and a behind-the-scenes walk through this year’s event.
Stretched out on one end of an L-shaped couch, in a t-shirt and shorts, Sadiq Abdullai Abu points the remote control at the large TV on the wall of his living room. An Afropop music video replaces Leonardo DiCaprio’s frightened face.
Sadiq coughs, and then yawns. He clearly hasn’t fully recovered, and could use some rest.
It doesn’t mean he harbours zero thoughts on the preponderance of Nigerian material on pan-African channels like Trace—which we’re currently watching, and how Ghana can realistically compete.
“Strengthening our structures,” is a good place to start, Sadiq believes; improving our mechanisms. Ghana is already the repository of premium African melodies anyway, he holds. “Even the Nigerians admit it.” The Buhari-led West African country dominates in terms of numbers, but there’s a case to be made for the Ghanaian sound, and its effect on neighbouring countries.
On paper, Sadiq has today off, but he’s still answering work calls, and will hold business meetings here later on. The 2019 3Music Awards may be over, but there’s still some mopping up to do.
Also, with the awards over, he’s already “bored,” and is grappling with an ever-recurrent question: “what next?” He proceeds to divulge two new ideas which excite his eyes. I’m impressed by both, but am concerned at the same time.
When last did Sadiq truly take time off, I ask?
As I suspected, he doesn’t have a ready answer, but reassures me that he is not unaware of the components of a vacation; a Takoradi getaway with “boys boys,” trips to SA or Dubai—stuff like that.
He admits to always being a “busy body.” “I’m not one to sit still,” he says, grimacing at the mere thought of idleness. As far back as when he was a primary school pupil, he’s always been adventurous and precocious—you can ask any of his nine siblings. Somehow, entertainment and music always stuck out to him. In his mum’s bedroom, he got introduced to the melodies of Alpha Blondy, UB40, Dolly Parton et al. This, coupled with the fact that his household was also big on radio, ensured that his appetite was duly nurtured.
Being mentored by veteran broadcaster, Jon Germain at Metro TV many years ago, highlighted his organisational skills; his knack for envisioning things and seeing them through. Rudy Kwakye, also a longtime confidant and guru, helped to hone that talent of his. More names emerge as the conversation progresses.
“It’s fulfilling to see that the things people consider ‘nothing,’ you’re able to go through certain processes to make it worth the attention of others,” says Sadiq. “Satisfaction, not the money” he reiterates, recounting goose bump-inducing moments, such as his efforts toward of birth of R2Bees and Wande Coal’s continental hit, “Kiss Your Hand,” seeing Stonebwoy on the Coke Studio Africa stage after massive behind-the-scenes machinations by his team, or even visualizing a TV show and seeing it come to fruition.
First held in 2018, the 3Music Awards initially sought to drive top-of-mind for 3Music block (airing on Accra-based TV3, and which producers intended to expand into a full music channel) to thrive commercially. Events were among the ventures which would harness a particular audience and be well-known.
Secondly, the event looked to inspire “a certain level of competitiveness in the industry—to create an alternative entertainment property to give entertainment value to event patrons, as well,” Sadiq nods.
It is clear, from happenings that have followed the 2019 edition (which saw dancehall act, Shatta Wale sweep eight awards, including the coveted “Music Man of the Year,” laurel, that competitiveness is truly being achieved. It can be witnessed in how artists nominated for the forthcoming Ghana Music Awards have amplified their campaigns to ensure that they win the golden plaques.
Of all the messages that the 3Music Awards exhibits, audacity is what is most striking—in how far organisers have gone to curate what is on its way to becoming literally music’s biggest stage in these parts. This year, among props organisers opted for was a contraption on which Shatta Wale descended to open the show, motorcycles and batmobiles among others to accessorise performances. It is interesting to note that what audiences witnessed March 30 at the Fantasy Dome was not the entirety of what organisers planned, as technical hitches botched a number of other ideas, and they had to resort to being “functional over being creative.” For event patrons who have constantly bemoaned the monotony of performances and stage designs, the 3Music stage is pushing the envelope; providing sets of true world-class quality—with little or no sponsorship too.
Responding to the above remark, a passionate Sadiq reechoes the sentiments of author, filmmaker, and professor M.K Asante—that observation begets obligation; that sitting about and pining never achieved anything. “You’re right in your observation of our audacity; to that level where you want to change the status-quo—to that extent where everybody will pay attention and take notice.
“I’ve always been talking about things that should happen. Almost always, it was as if people were not listening, or were simply not interested. So I thought that the only way to make it happen is to step into it and really show and prove that it is possible. Then, perhaps, it would gain the attention of people to say ‘alright, can we now join in and make it happen?’”
Producing awards is very expensive, and to Sadiq, if you really want to “go to that extent that we went to” –because there have been others in the system; mainly the VGMAs [Ghana Music Awards] which has received acceptance and have a certain organized system—“for you to be able to play at that level, there’s so much you need to put into it.”
It’s one thing to conceive an event of such nerve. But how does one go about executing it?
“A lot of insight, experience and knowledge” for sure, Sadiq opines, clearing his throat. “We are always engaging and talking to people that have the knowledge.” At this juncture, he begins to namedrop contemporaries who have achieved first-name popularity for their contribution to Ghanaian showbiz: “Rudy, Obed, Halifax, STIP”—even if he “may have experience that places me in good stead to gauge it and see my way clear—in terms of the destination we are heading to.” At that last statement, he aims an invisible rifle with both hands at the wall, primed to shoot at something.