And in the end, Kweku Rasta and his entourage of Rastafarians were the ones who got together to celebrate the amazing feat (as he said in many viral pre-event videos) – of the 21-year-old ‘Trapper’ from Konongo City, precisely the 18 Area of Konongo Zongo, for being crowned the biggest act of the year on the music calendar, ably powered annually by Vodafone Ghana.
But yes! It was a night of thrills, glitz and grandeur. The 24th edition of the coveted Vodafone Ghana Music Awards (VGMA24) could not have come to any other end than it did. With the crowd’s favourite, and indisputably Ghana’s biggest global export on the international music scene presently, Black Sherif, topping the charts on the night despite competition from some industry greats including the ever-relevant landlord, Sarkodie, new Def Jam sensation, Stonebwoy, and gospel music favourite, Piesie Esther, among others who were also nominated in the ‘Artist of the Year category.
The reign of Black Sherif this year, while unsurprising, is reminiscent of his compatriots like Sarkodie and Kwame Eugene who as then as winners of ‘New Artist of the Year,’ a year after bursting into the local music scene proceeded to win the ‘Artist of the Year’ award in the ensuing year, respectively.
Now, the young champ has an audacious task at hand to sustain the momentum garnered with his back-to-back releases of the mildly high-pitched vocals of Afro-pop, Reggae filled and Hip Hop laced songs that have captivated many, locally and abroad, especially with the narrations of his goings-on on the streets of Accra as a gen z, and the sad episode of his young love, Tina.
But hey! Before anything else, Charterhouse, the organisers of Vodafone Ghana Music Awards, deserve a standing ovation for putting this event together consistently since the maiden edition in 2000, making it the longest-run awards scheme in the country.
The over two-decade awards production has come with some great improvements in all aspects but perhaps lacking the options of more appropriate event centres in the country that offers enough room for creative stage setups among others like we recently saw the organisers of the ‘Global Music Festivals’ attempt to pull-off.
Nonetheless, VGMA24, as has always been the trend was no doubt going to go down without the usual charade of drama and controversies; beginning with the nomination of the artists, promotion of the event by the nominated acts, red carpet appearances on the night of the event to performances and selection of award winners for each category of the awards.
You will recall that the nomination of one of the budding Ghanaian music stars, Jay Bahd, for Best New Artist for VGMA24 was revoked after reviewing a petition filed by media personality and VGMA Academy member, Austine Woode.
Jay Bahd was nominated in the New Artiste of the Year category with artists such as Ewura Abena, Lasmid, Chief One, DJ Azonto, Malcolm Nuna and DJay.
In a petition filed on Monday, March 20, 2023, the VGMA Academy member conclusively argued that the Kumasi-based musician did not qualify for the Best New Artist category. Thankfully, we were all spared any prolonged squabbling given that a one-week provisional window for addressing errors and omissions had been announced prior by Charterhouse, on the release of the nominees list.
Charthouse, in response, said “After deliberations, the Board agrees that Jay Band is not new to the scheme, because of his shared nomination on Yaw Tog’s `Sore’ for Collaboration of the Year in 2021. “This means he’s not eligible as a nominee for the Best New Artiste category of the 24th Vodafone Ghana Music Awards. The error has been corrected, and Jay Band and his team have been informed accordingly,” a statement from the organisers said.
It also appears that many of the nominees, the top acts, did not actively campaign and by extension promote the event as we have seen in the past. Understandably, a lot of the artists were involved in some projects, knowingly or unknowingly, which coincided with the event. For instance, Sarkodie and the team had scheduled many international gigs which were being promoted on their handles. And similarly, Stonebwoy was also promoting his new album, the 5th Dimension, the first of many to come after signing with Def Jam Africa.
This could be seen to have affected the enthusiasm with which many of these artists used to post about their nominations to canvas for votes from their followers, and by so doing promoting the event. Many netizens even speculated that this was probably also because some of the acts knew they would be beaten to the awards for which they were nominated.
Regardless, the awards ceremony came off with all the pomp and pageantry loudly echoed by the popular red-carpet phrase “Who are you wearing?” which was often met with long winding explanations, especially from overzealous patrons who sought to make wild fashion statements with some ‘distasteful’ appearances.
In the opinion of Austine Woode, after the event, he lamented that “the coordination was poor and many of the celebrities we know didn’t appear on the red carpet even though they were the ones we were expecting to see.”
He went on to say that “For the main event, I wasn’t happy with the 3 MCs (Berla Mundi, Naa Ashorkor and James Gardiner) because the telepathy between them was non-existent and they seemed lost when there was a break and were directed to fill the gaps.”
According to him, this occurred frequently because the organizers decided not to have a DJ set as part of the awards this year. “So the gaps that DJ Black used to fill were left to the MCs who failed terribly to enthuse the crowd and those watching at home,” he added.
After many years of hosting this event, a popular criticism has always been the stage setup and how that enhances the performance of those billed to take the stage. But let’s just say this year was better albeit with more room for improvement.
Therefore, a judgement of the performances may not be entirely fair although the Academy member would have none of those excuses. Performers for the night included Pheelz, Camidoh, King Promise, Medikal, Gyakie, Black Sheriff, Piesie Esther, Sarkodie, and many others.
“For performances, I will group them into 3 tiers with Tier 1 being given the top performance on the night. Tier 1 – Sarkodie, Kwabena Kwabena, Black Sherif and the Gospel Stars who joined Piesie Esther to perform a rendition of her hit song “W’aye me yie”
Tier 2 – King Promise, Ofori Amponsah and Epixode
Tier 3 – Medikal, Kidi, Gyakie and Lasmid.
“On the awards, many were expected but the ones that got many questioning were ALBUM OF THE YEAR going to “5 Star” by King Promise instead of “The Villain I never was” by Black Sherif, Hip Hop/Hiplife Artiste of the Year going to Sarkodie instead of fan favourite Black Sherif, the Most popular song going to “Kweku The Traveller” by Black Sherif instead of “Sugarcane remix” by Camidoh and Gyakie winning Record of the year.
It was a celebration of Ghanaian music and fashion and many enjoyed it. However, patrons including myself will plead with organizers to strife to improve the awards scheme and TV production,” the Academy member contended.
Well, all these remain parts of the concerns of many patrons of the award scheme, and certainly it hoped that the improvement will come albeit gradually. And hopefully, we will always be here to critic the the mmusic award scheme.
Below is the full list of winners at the 2023 Vodafone Ghana Music Awards
- Gospel Song of The Year
Piesie Esther – W’ay3 Me Yie * WINNER
- Best Male Vocal Performance
Perez Muzik * WINNER
- Best Female Vocal Performance
Niella – Nothing Is Too Hard * WINNER
- Best Hiplife Song
Friday Night – Lasmid * WINNER
- Best Hip Hop Song of the Year
Kwaku The Traveller – Black Sherif * WINNER
- Best Collaboration of The Year
Country Side – Sarkodie ft Black Sherif * WINNER
- International Collaboration of the Year
Camidoh – – Sugarcane Remx ft King Promise & Mayokun * WINNER
- Best Afropop Song
Stonebwoy – Therapy * WINNER
- Best Gospel Artiste
Piesie Esther * WINNER
- Best Afrobeats Song
Camidoh – Sugarcane Remix ft King Promise & Mayokun * WINNER
- Best Reggae/Dancehall Song
Epixode – Atia * WINNER
- Best Music Video
Black Sherif – Konogo Zongo * WINNER
- Lifetime Achievement – Kofi Sammy
- Best African Artiste Nominees
Asake * WINNER
- Best Highlife Song
Kelvyn Boy – Down Flat * WINNER
- Best Afrobeats/Afropop Artiste
King Promise * WINNER
- Songwriter of the Year Nominees
Perez Muzik – Hewale lala * WINNER
- Best Highlife Artiste
Kofi Kinaata * WINNER
- Producer of the Year
Mog Beatz *WINNER
- Best Hiplife/ Hiphop Artiste
- Best Reggae/ Dancehall Artiste
- Best Rap Performance
Amerado – Obiaa boa * WINNER
- Audio Engineer of the Year
Altra Nova – Far Away *WINNER
- Record of the Year
Gyakie – Far away *WINNER
- Best New Artist
- Album/EP of the Year
King Promise – 5 Star *WINNER
- Vodafone Green Award
- Vodafone’s Most Popular Song of the Year
Black Sherif – Kweku the Traveller *WINNER
- Artiste of the Year
Black Sherif *WINNER