It is an undisputable theory that after 14 years, the Vodafone Ghana Music Awards remain the most-anticipated and much-talked-about awards scheme in the Ghanaian entertainment industry – and without a mince of doubt, Charterhouse, organizers of the annual festival of awards show have done an incredible job of giving the event so much prestige, class, clout and influence.
In all the classiness and interest the awards commandeers comes the inevitable controversies that are synonymous with every recognized awards show across the world. Over the years, controversies on the VGMA has hinged predominantly on one thing; purported wrong choice of some winners.
The Awards in the determination of its winners, is said to actually go through a thorough and genuine regimen but the choices of some winners always make music fans cringe with such skepticism.
In 2004, the five awards won by gospel greats, Daughters of Glorious Jesus for their album ‘Aseda’ generated so much ruckus and the organizers endured ruthless backlash, they almost gave up on the awards. For the first time in the history of the awards, the audience openly booed Irene & Jane when they were announced winners of the ‘Best Female Vocalist’ category in 2008, beating the likes of Ohemaa Mercy, Becca, Diana Hamilton and Cee. The fact that Irene& Jane were under the management of Charterhouse made the win seem dubious.
Music adherents were in disbelief when Czar was adjudged to have won the 2009 ‘Hiplife Song of the Year’ with ‘Mercy Lokko’, soaring above the likes of Okyeame Kwame (Medo Mmaa), Klala (Am3 h3y3 f3o), Reggie Zippy (Adoma), Dunsin (Oyeadi3 y3) and Obour (President Obour).
In 2011, ardent GMA followers were left bemused to have had Zapp Mallet beat Nacy to pick the ‘Producer of the Year’ prize, in a year where Nacy did everything right and deserved to annex the honour. Even good old Zapp was less expectant of the award as he showed so much surprise during his acceptance speech.
Herty Borngreat produced arguably the biggest shock of the Awards thus far when she annexed the ‘Best Collaboration of the Year’ in 2013 for her collaborative effort with Trigmatic ahead of arguably the most popular collaboration of that year, Asem and Kwabena Kwabena’s ‘Bye Bye’.
These occurrences and more have created cynicism over the Awards, where many have questioned the integrity and transparency of the scheme. Some have even blurted unsubstantiated allegations of musicians paying to win awards.
Over the period, the VGMA Organization has assured Ghanaians of a very credible and verifiable awards scheme by publishing the processes of the selection of winners. According to such publication, there is a Collection of Entries stage where qualified songs are taken from submissions from record companies, search engines like Google, data from Mobile Content Companies, and from the Copyright Office.
There is the Categorization process, where the VGMA Board compiles the entries and comes out the list of nominations and then comes the crucial voting process that includes 40% Public voting, 30% VGMA Academy voting, and 30% VGMA Board voting, all representing the Public Voting Awards. The Industry Voting Awards include 50% VGMA Academy and 50% VGMA Board, which also has 100% voting rights in the Honorary, Sound Engineer and Producer of the Year Awards.
Voting is said to be done online, via mobile phone (short code) plus a voting session each for the VGMA Academy and Board. It is also said that, all the votes are supervised and tabulated by world renowned business advisory firm, KPMG.
With all the above stipulated procedures, the VGMA is cast to be one of the most credible, transparent and error-free awards schemes in Ghana but wait a minute, is that the case? Not quite!
Over the years, there have been blatant anomalies in the categorization and nomination of songs. Songs that do not qualify with regards to time of release are nominated, Artistes with several albums under their names are nominated as new artistes, songs are categorized wrongly and songs that qualify for nominations are ignored.
So, with all these mishaps, some of which have been acknowledged by the organizers (Cynthia Macauley as ‘New Artiste’, Nicholas Omane Acheampong as ‘Producer of the Year’ etc) – it goes to prove, that the Awards cannot be unadulterated as depicted.
With the perceived wrong choice of winners for some categories, anybody can also raise issues about the transparency of the voting system and the collation technique of world-renowned business firm, KPMG.
If all the processes of the awards, from the collection of songs, categorization, and nominations to voting pattern are published to show how transparent the VGMA is, perhaps, we can also have KPMG publish how the collation of public votes, Academy and Board votes are done – no?
After all said and done, will such a move allay some doubts on the minds of naysayers on the transparency of the VGMA? Maybe! Will it quell the controversies that come along with the Awards? Absolutely not!