Diana Hamilton won the Artiste of the Year at the just ended Vodafone Ghana Music Awards to the shock of many; at least for those who thought they were stronger in numbers than the church.
The truth is, should Diana Hamilton get nominated in that same category again, she will win it. This is not even about the church. It’s about principle.
Below is a screenshot captured from the official website of the awards scheme, stripping down how winners are determined in the various categories.
For the purpose of this writing, I will focus only on the categories that require public voting.
Many may not know this, but the Vodafone Ghana Music Awards was built around the interest of the masses. Though it may seem like a scheme built to ONLY award artistes who have worked hard in the year under review, it is a platform given to the masses (consumers of the music) to decide who wins what.
The Academy and the Board may have an influence in determining a winner, but it’s limited to their respective percentage brackets. Therefore, to win an award in any of the public voting categories, one will need votes. A lot of them. And oh, for a scheme that gives the public the opportunity to vote a number of times (10 attempts), the board, and the academy are toothless when it comes to the choice of the winner.
Diana Hamilton in partnership with the church, especially the Church of Pentecost, has taught us this lesson very well.
There are so many factors that may have contributed to her win, but I want to concentrate on only one in this write-up; public voting.
It is very easy to lament about who deserved to win an award, but extremely contentious to accept that the award is given by the highest number of votes. I believe being nominated in any category establishes that one has worked hard to stand a chance to be awarded.
I saw many reactions to Diana Hamilton’s win suggesting that KiDi worked harder, and he deserved it. And perhaps, just maybe, if Diana Hamilton was not nominated in the Artiste of the Year category, and did not have a mammoth backing in votes from the church, KiDi would have won it.
Because, even if the public did not vote massively for KiDi, the votes from both the Board and Academy may just give him an edge over others.
Well, the gag here is everybody else apart from these two worked hard in the calendar year.
Kuami Eugene equally had a strong year in 2020 with one of the biggest songs in the country with Open Gate. He was also influential with his features of some popular songs in the country for the same year under review.
I could even go on and on with Medikal and Sarkodie who also had a number of hit songs to their credit, leaving various quotables of their lyrics on the lips of many.
The question is, did the public really vote for Kidi even though it was evident that he worked harder? And if they did, were the votes enough to give Kidi a stronger push? Or because Kidi had a strong year, automatically he wins it? And if he did, will that not undermine the integrity of the system put in place to award these artistes?
Lest we forget, AMG Business rapper- Medikal, suffered the same fate of extreme disappointment when he had 7 nominations in 2017, and he didn’t win any of them. That year was arguably one of the best years for Medikal; first of all, as a new artiste and lastly attaining that number of nominations, posing strong competition to his co-nominees.
Medikal did not even get awarded for Best New Artiste of the year — the category he undoubtedly deserved. Fancy Gadam nicked it away with his astronomical backing in votes from the North.
Patapaa also suffered the same fate in 2018 when he thought his ‘One Corner’ song will easily win Popular Song of the Year. He has still not recovered from that shock– his career hasn’t been the same since then.
Diana Hamilton was nowhere close to taking the highest award of the scheme when conversations commenced after the nominations were released.
Industry experts, pundits, and other music stakeholders predicted that KiDi will take it home. Some even termed it the ‘year of the kid’ and backed it with strong evidence to show Kidi deserved it. In fact, I predicted the same too. But predictions and analysis don’t win awards at the VGMAs.
In all of my predictions, I added that if Kidi will lose to Diana Hamilton, it will be because the church took a collective decision to make sure Diana wins. Not just to make a statement, but to teach a few lessons. One of them is that, you don’t have to underestimate the numbers and impact of the church. To borrow the words of Jay Bahd, “ɔmu yɛ Dom.”
Joe Mettle after being the first gospel artiste to win the Artiste of the Year at the VGMAs in 2017, also to the shock of many, opened the door for his colleagues to come in. I’m sure they called it a bluff when he said so.
Diana and her team understood the assignment at hand right from the announcement of the nominations and started their campaign assiduously, door-to-door.
The ‘Adom’ hitmaker knew she was going against a competitor who was probably everyone’s favourite and though she may be one, she will have to activate their love even harder by asking for votes.
Love in itself is a verb. Without the action that completes the characteristics of the verb, it only becomes something you know, a noun.
Celebrated artistes, especially the secular artistes in Ghana these days, have become lackadaisical when it comes to canvassing for votes. Gone were the days when artistes would engage their fans to host voting parties to push the various agenda in winning categories they were nominated in.
The likes of Sarkodie, Shatta Wale, and Stonebwoy have all been guilty of this. These days, it is more of an affirmation and an entitlement to winning because they worked hard, and their songs are on the lips of everybody. Unfortunately, the system will require more than that.
The scheme over time has suffered many criticisms every year it is held.
Many have called for several reforms to make the nation’s biggest honorary award scheme, in music, better and credible. It is often bastardized when your favourite doesn’t win a category some people think they deserved.
The scheme however is not ONLY based on merit. It’s based on the highest number of votes. Merit will get you nominated, but it won’t guarantee you a plaque.
The VGMAs is a battleground. Being nominated in the VGMAs is not the final destination. It is only another opportunity to show how bad you want to win it. You may have put in the work to put out great work and get nominated. But your fans will have to give back to you what you deserve by showing their love in the currency of votes. It is what it is!
The writer, Olele Salvador, is a columnist with citinewsroom.com and an on-air personality with CITI TV.