Opinion

STOP THE NOISE! Give George Quaye A Break

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Boy, nobody wants to be in the shoes of George right now, no! For the past two weeks, he’s made the headlines and attained mention more than the President of Ghana, H.E. Nana Akufo-Addo.

George Quaye’s comment on supposed bribery in connection with the Vodafone Ghana Music Awards has elicited varied sentiments and severe backlash, most of which are laden with hypocrisy, misinterpretation and unwarranted angst.

All of a sudden, everybody has an opinion on the matter, including artists and industry folks who for a moment, had very little or nothing to show for in their respective endeavors.

George Quaye - in 'hot' waters?
George Quaye – in ‘hot’ waters?

What Did George Really Say?

As a pundit on that very edition of the show, I heard clearly what the gentleman said and I reported it as it were on the website, www.entertainmentgh.com.

He stated that, of all the bribery offers he’s had since he became an Executive of the scheme; the most have come from the gospel fraternity.

First of all, he said ‘offers’; he never said he was given any bribe and didn’t state any person paid a bribe for an award.

Let me rephrase; he has been approached by many musicians, most of whom are gospel artists to check if there’s a way they could pay their way to winning awards. Approached not paid!

Secondly, what he also said means that, he has received offers or approached by artists from all genres of Ghanaian music – highlife, reggae, dancehall, traditional, afro pop and gospel but the most of these offers emanate from gospel artists.

You still do not get it? Let’s try Mathematics.

Hypothetically, If 15 musicians ever approached him to ‘test the waters’, 5 could be reggae musicians, 5 hiplife and 10 gospel artists.

Clearly, gospel artists are not the only people who have approached to offer bribe to George, per his assertion, so, why are they making a fuss?

There’s Bribery & Bribery Allegations Everywhere

For a moment, some persons have been acting as if the mention of bribery in connection to gospel music is a taboo.

The reality check is; bribery or allegations thereof have been prevalent in all aspects of our lives. It is everywhere; at the Presidency and in Parliament.

Let’s bring it home to show business, where many allegations of bribery have been leveled against the biggest award shows across the world, some had names, others didn’t.

In 1993, a report in the New York Times suggested that, the success of the movie, ‘Scent of a Woman’ at the Golden Globes was owed to Universal Studios buying Golden Globes votes. The investigation held that Universal treated a slew of foreign and American critics to an all-expenses-paid excursion to New York in December – right before the Association members cast their Golden Globes votes.

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In February 2010, Nicolas Chartier, producer for the movie,’ Hurt Locker’, emailed a group of Academy Award voters in an attempt to sway them to vote for The Hurt Locker instead of “a $500M film” (referring to Avatar) for the Best Picture award. He later issued a public apology, saying that it was “out of line and not in the spirit of the celebration of cinema that this acknowledgment is”. The Academy banned him from attending the award ceremony, the first time the Academy has ever banned an individual nominee.

In 2011, bribery allegations were targeted at Chris Brown in connection to his winning of the ‘Best R&B Album’ at the Grammy. He was accused of bribing members of the Grammy production team to get a win.

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In 2014, during an interview with ‘So Film’ magazine, Oscar nominee Julie Delpy made some startling allegations about the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The 44-year-old French-American actress claimed that the Academy is full of corrupt Hollywood syndicates whose Oscar ‘votes’ can be bought for the right price.

Gospels Artists Agitated Over What?

After the comment, the loudest jeers are coming from the gospel front, why? Were they the only ones accused? Why are folks from the other genres not agitating over the comment?

Does the action of these gospel folks on the matter mean they are of no blemish, no fault, and no shortcomings? Big fib!

Cwesi Oteng -agitated
Cwesi Oteng -agitated

Gospel artists are not angels, they are not saints; they get entangled in all manner of wrongdoings. They are freaking human!

If gospel artists be can be sleeping with each other, do abortions and get mixed up in all manner or debauchery lifestyle, who says they can also not attempt to bribe?

It took George just 24 hours after the story broke to render an apology. He was graceful enough to realize that he did ‘wrong’ and apologized to every gospel artist who felt slighted, yet, these gospel people are acting as though somebody just waged a war against Jesus Christ.

If you guys can simply not forgive and move on, then you guys have been wasting your time singing gospel, acting as though, you are apostles of Christ, who preached extensively about forgiveness. Shame on you all for disappointing Christ and wasting our time too!

It is also interesting to hear some call for the boycott of the Awards by gospel artists. Well, it will be unfair to downplay the impact of gospel music in the VGMA but a boycott will also not affect the awards.

Ohemaa Mercy -wants to return the plaques
Ohemaa Mercy -wants to return the plaques

Oh, and did Ohemaa Mercy state that, if names are not mentioned, she will return all her VGMA plaques?

Guess what, Auntie Mercy;

The biggest music award in the world is the Grammy and in 1991, Irish singer-songwriter Sinead O’Connor boycotted the Grammy ceremony and refused her award for Best Alternative Album, maintaining that her absence was a protest against the extreme commercialism of the Grammy Awards.

The Grammy has been held successfully, 26 times after that episode.  Nothing was affected!

Concerned Radio Presenters: Waste of time!

The emergence of this Concerned Radio Presenters clique in the heat of this matter is laughable, a complete joke!

What are they concerned about? And they claim they are a pressure group? Which pressure?

For the past decade, musicians, artist managers, producers and even radio presenters have accused the Scheme for taking bribes. Where were these presenters? Where was their concern? Did they prod any accuser to mention names or stop working as artists or Managers?

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Listening to their so-called PRO on Peace FM was excruciatingly embarrassing.  He was not even conversant with how the VGMA works and he is a presenter who presides over critical discussions on Ghanaian arts. We should be concerned, seriously!

What these presenters should be concerned about, is their understanding and proper analysis of issues, they should be concerned about feeding their listeners with proper information. They should be concerned about understanding the meaning of approach and paid.

Will This Affect the VGMA?

In 17 years of its existence, the scheme has seen worse, yet, it remains our biggest and most prestigious music awards ever.

This is not the first time some gospel people have threatened to shun the Awards and even in 2005, when the scheme suffered its worse tribulation, it survived.

While some are on a tirade, feverishly embarking on a bogus campaign against George Quaye and the scheme, the VGMA Board is sitting and categorizing the many nominations that have been sent in, including nominations from gospel artists.

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Nominations would be released mid February, Nominees Jams would be organized and come April, the main awards would be held and once again, the hall would be filled.

When the nominations list is released, the usual banter would start, predictions would suffice and castigation of the Board and the organizers would also come to play. The VGMA will still go on, unscathed!

Arnold Asamoah-Baidoo, www.entertainmentgh.com

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