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GRAMMYS: So Much Noise, So Much Confusion

By Arnold Asamoah-Baidoo

The 63rd edition of the most prestigious music awards scheme in the world, the Grammy Awards, was held over the weekend and Ghana is buzzing over the news of the wins for two Nigerian acts, Burna Boy and Wizkid.

As expected, industry stakeholders, music connoisseurs, the fans and the artistes in Ghana are throwing jabs at each other over the inability of any Ghanaian artiste to feature prominently in this year’s awards.

Intriguingly, while Nigerians are basking in the glory of having two top acts annex awards at the Grammys, the first ever for the country, artistes in Ghana and their fans are firing vitriol at each other on social media.

The rhubarb thickens with some taking shots at Ghanaian acts for not doing enough to get to the Grammys and some of the artistes are lashing out at the industry for the lack of structures and support.

Finally, Nigeria Has Winners

Since 1984, Nigerians have had a taste of Grammy nominations with King Sunny Ade. The country has, in the last decades, racked up 10 different nominations by various artistes, with Femi Kuti notching the most with 4 nods.

It took Burna Boy to have another shot at it, after his nomination last year, to win it this time with the album, ‘Twice as Tall’. He becomes the first and only Nigerian to win a Grammy on his own.

Wizkid also won a Grammy over the weekend, by virtue of his feature on Beyoncé’s music video for the song, ‘Black Skin Girl’

The Nigerian Nightmare

The level of confusion that has erupted in our space over the Grammys could be confounding but it is understandable. Ghanaians and Nigerians, albeit ‘brothers’ in arts and entertainment, are also competitive in achievements, especially in the eyes of the music followers. Therefore, there’s always bound to be comparisons and trolling when one country surges ahead with regard to feats.

Ghana was quite throughout the years Benin’s Angelique Kidjo won the Grammy for 4 times including last year.  There were no screaming, no attacks, no trolling when South Africa’s Ladysmith Black Mambazo won the Grammy for 4 different times.

The fact is; once a Nigerian act chalks some international success, trust fellow Ghanaians to raise issues on what exactly peers in Ghana are all about. It is a phenomenon that will not dissipate anytime soon, so, the earlier we get accustomed to it, the better for our sanity.

Rocky Dawuni Showed The Way

It is becoming increasing galling to have some Ghanaian artistes and their deluded and ignorant fans always laying the blame on a certain industry or some lack of support from Ghanaians especially the media – as their lousy reasons for their inability to get to the Grammys. Shut up already!

The industry obviously has its teething problems but our industry is better shaped than that of Benin and Mali, yet, their artistes have won Grammys. These artistes making the noise are where they perch today because of the same lukewarm industry and the same support from same old Ghanaians.

The road to Grammys always seemed murky and was an enigma, especially for our Ghanaian artistes and their handlers until Rocky Dawuni broke that jinx. In 2015, with his album, ‘Branches of the Same Tree’, Rocky Dawuni became the first Ghanaian to attain nomination at the Academy Awards in the ‘Best Reggae Album’ category.

Rocky showed the way; he depicted that a Ghanaian can get there. He has the blueprint on how any other Ghanaian artiste can also make it to the most prestigious music awards in the world, yet, after 6 years since his feat, no Ghanaian has replicated that accomplishment or bettered it.

The Road to Grammy Is Simple – Learn It!

The route to the Grammys is not rocket science; the guidelines and rules are there for every interested musician all over the world to follow.

First, Ghanaian artistes, in order to get their works at the Grammys, must have their songs/albums commercially released and distributed in the USA. The likes of Ladysmith, Kidjo, Burna Boy and Rocky all have international labels that release and distribute their music in the States.

Burna Boy is signed to Atlantic Records and Warner Bros, one of the 3 biggest labels in the world. Angelique Kidjo is signed to Island, Polygram and Columbia Records and Rocky Dawuni is signed to Cumbancha Records among many other examples.

Also, the surest bet for Ghanaians to get into the Grammy, aside the ‘Best Reggae Album’ category is via the ‘Best Global Music Album’ category, which demands that the bigger percentage of the sound be indigenous.

We have the sound, the expertise and the right purveyors; all we need are the proper branding, packaging, the connections and right platforms to exhibit. If artistes and songs from Mali, Senegal, Algeria and Nigeria are making it, why not Ghanaian acts? It is possible, so stop the unnecessary blame game and get to work.

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