Entertainment of 2014-05-06

Opinion: VGMA 2014… Did it live up to its hype?

The much-awaited Vodafone Ghana Music Awards finally came off last Saturday at the conference center. As a music lover and a keen follower of the showbiz industry, I sat by my TV with some bottles of Alvaro, Smirnoff, Malt and some grilled "akonfem", patiently waiting for what was billed to be the show of the year. My iPad was also ready for social media posts. Present were my wife, my best friend, Daniel, and two of my wife's friends.

GHOne entertainment TV, which is owned by Charter House, was the first to start showing any signs of airing the show live, so we all agreed to stay glued to it. They started with video clips of some of the artistes billed to perform. We sang along, did our own voting and had heated debates about who deserved to win what and why.

Finally, Blackboy came on screen, followed by Amanda. Then shhhhh... the show began.

First observation: picture quality was poor- too much red. Second, sound quality was poor. Third, Amanda's attire wasn’t the best – it has to be said.

You can imagine the debate the ladies present had. My best friend and I stayed out of it. Then I decided to logon to Facebook to see if Ghana was up watching. (I guess you know the answer to that).

One thing that requires commendation, though, was the seamless flow between black boy and Amanda. Let's fast forward to the main event. We all know that performances make or unmake any show or concert. As such, I was very interested in what the various artistes were going to do once they mounted the stage.

CASTRO - His performance was good but I think the band let him down. The tempo of the songs was up by three points and you could clearly see it made the artiste struggle with his high notes. He could not sustain his notes for the classic tunes we have come to expect from Castro. All the same, he did well. I will rate his performance 5 out of 10.

BISA KDEI - He was cool as usual. His hi-life tunes were on point. Bisa's music is usually low to middle pitch hence he didn't struggle that much, though the band wasn't at its best. I’ll rate his performance 5 out of 10.

MZVEE - The new unsung artiste's performance was great. For a new artiste, she gave off her best. Her attire was on point, and it was just revealing enough to suit her dancehall act. Her singing was on point, and she had dancers on stage to complement her performance. Dancehall at last has a future in Ghana. I can say Mzvee will give Kaakie a run for her money.I hope to see collaboration between them soon. For the past year or so, dancehall artistes in Ghana have been at each other's throat. Dancehall lovers in Ghana either belong to Samini's camp or Shata Wale's camp, which I think is disturbing for the future of that music genre .The best way to promote dancehall is for the various artistes to do more collaborations and concerts, and not spend time "beefing".

GURU - For about 3 years now has consistently released hit songs that get everyone onto their feet. From Lapaz Toyota to Boys Abr3 to Democracy, Guru has demonstrated that he knows how to make good music. However, an experienced artiste like Guru should know that hit songs with danceable rhythms should be performed with dancers. It makes absolutely no sense for one artiste to stand on a big empty stage to perform hit songs people have come to associate with dance moves. I wondered why actor LILWin was not on stage with him. He would have added a lot of action to the performance. Even the legendary Michael Jackson complemented his performances with some form stagecraft. The same can be said of contemporary artistes like Jay Z and Beyonce. Though his dancers came on stage to do Lapaz Toyota, I rate his performance 4 out of 10 for the simple fact that he should have known better.

SONY BADU - It was a lively performance by the ace gospel singer. Dancers appeared on stage almost immediately after the intro tunes. Standing audience sang, along making his performance one of the most interactive, if not the best by the night's standards. I do not know if he used his own band, but the bands performance with Sonny was on point. For a moment, the whole auditorium sounded like we were having a purely gospel show. Sonny you are indeed a performer. I’ll rate his performance 8 out of 10.

OJ - I watched his performance at the industry awards and I must admit that he gave it his best. It was a passion-filled performance. Though he was disappointed at not winning the Song Writer of the Year award, his performance was superb.

With a costume and makeup to match the lyrics of the songs, May3 Se Wo Pen and Obinya Way3, got the audience singing along. He spiced his display with some form of theatre, which further excited the audience. One can conclude that OJ was a happy man after winning the gospel song of the year award. Rating: 7/10

CINDY THOMPSON - I remember the first Ghana Music Awards very well. Cindy Thompson won the highest award of the night with her Awurade Kasa hit track. You just couldn’t take anything away from her performance. The band was spot on and it was as if they recorded the song with her. Her voice, her confidence and the minor remixes made the song sound fresh and new to the audience. Joselyn Dumas even danced. Lol. Rating: 7/10

KWADEE - I was so excited to see Kwadee on stage. I could not believe he had more people dancing to his rap songs than Bisa Kdei's Highlife tunes. This could be because Bisa performed earlier in the night. It could also be out of respect for the once vibrant and popular hit maker. From Y33 Kormmaap3 to kawonai to so to mmaapioto, Kwadee had almost everyone in the auditorium on their feet, singing along till he left the stage .Though he didn’t have dancers, his lyrically rich songs made up for it. Rating: 6/10

DAASEBRE - Reminded me of the days when people actually sat down to write songs. Lyrically and rhythmically he sang rich songs. Those days you bought a cassette and you felt proud to own a Lumba, Daasebre, or Lord Kenya album. Daasebre's songs were on point. He also had dancers on stage to make his act lively, but it was clear man had voice issues. Lol. It was so obvious. Rating: 4/10

IYANYA - One of the international acts of the night. Iyanya was energetic from the start of his performance to the point when he made the mistake of going to invite Yvonne Okoro to wind her waist. I have two things to say about this: Next time, give the person you want to invite on stage a heads up.second, please stick to DJs and miming. Your dancers were great though. Rating: 6/10.

SARKODIE - This was a performance I believe everyone in the auditorium was looking forward to. Did it meet expectations? Well I think that's relative. Let me be honest, I thought Sarkodie was going to do his lonely stage thing, where he stands all alone on stage rapping and leaving the lights and usually dark stage to do the work for him. Sarkodie proved me wrong, especially with the Sark Dance Crew. I'm yet to learn the dance though. I already knew the audience will be up on its feet, so I wasn't surprised at all.

From Illuminati to the latest Adonai featuring Castro I can confidently say that Sarkodie made the show worth attending. One thing I like about Sarkodie is he sticks to his DJ. What's the use of performing with live band, if they will not play the instrumentals as it is? Rating: 8/10. Well, somehow I dozed off so I am in no position to rate the rest of the performances.


I think the colour red was too much. It even affected camera and light work. Those of us who watched the event on TV, had a very bad experience. And this is a show we try to compare to MTV awards, Channel O awards and the like.

Shatta Wale

Shatta Wale did not perform because, according to him, the organisers could not pay the GH? 70,000 fee he demanded. I can clearly understand why Charter House or any other organiser will not want to pay that much to just one artiste for an event that charges GHC100 per head in an auditorium with a seating capacity of about 1,800. Also, between 10 and 20% of the audience gets complimentary tickets for various reasons. A simple calculation will indicate that it doesn’t make business sense to pay any single artiste that much, especially when there are 19 other artistes on the bill. Yes, I know sponsorship money comes in but with all the expenses associated with organizing such an event, I doubt if any single artiste can bag that much for a 15minutes performance.

Moving Forward

This is why it’s about time stakeholders such as Charter House and the Ministry of Tourism and Culture took Kwesi Kyei Darkwa's (KKD) advice on auditoriums. He said this on THE PUNDITS - a GHOne TV show some weeks back. K.K.D, a veteran in the showbiz industry, has attended many award shows all over the world and has helped organised some of them. K.K.D proposes that at least one modern auditorium with a seating capacity of at least 10,000 in Accra and Kumasi. The other eight regions can have 2,000-seat capacity auditoriums.

The logic behind this is simple: If you charge even GH?50 per head and multiply by 10,000, you’ll get GH? 500,000 from tickets alone. Let's not forget that VIP tickets can be sold for between GH? 100 and GH? 150. Add sponsorship money, and organisers will not hesitate to pay Gh?70,000 to deserving artistes.

A larger audience means sponsors will get their money’s worth. Artistes will be well paid and organisers will make profit. Many Ghanaians will also be able to afford the ticket.

To conclude, this year's VGMA was hyped to the highest degree but delivery did not live up to the hype. I think we should start looking at getting bigger venues with all the necessary production equipment so that we can have the kind of shows we all want to see. Congrats to Charter House, though, for hosting the award for the 15th straight year.

Source: Francis K. Osabutey
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