VGMA is a curse to Highlife music —Ambolley
While many industry players applaud Charterhouse, organisers of the annual Vodafone Ghana Music Awards (VGMA), for continuously throwing the spotlight on and promoting works of Ghanaian artistes, veteran Highlife artiste, Gyedu Blay Ambolley, on the other hand, sees the award scheme as a contribution to the limping state of Highlife music.
In his view, VGMA, one of the biggest and much-anticipated events on the Ghanaian entertainment calendar, gives outsiders a false impression of music representation in Ghana.
He said the scheme gave the topmost awards to artistes pursuing other music genres, which further affect the dwindling fortunes of Highlife music.
He explained to Graphic Showbiz that his observation is confirmed by the number as well as quality of artistes nominated in the Best Highlife Artiste of the Year category.
“It is unfortunate that people think when you sing in Twi or Fante over a Dancehall or Reggae beats it automatically makes it Highlife music. That is not true but it has become the norm over the years because these are the kinds of music VGMA rewards.”
“Today, if anyone wants to have an idea of what Ghana represents in terms of music, I bet the person will not count any Highlife artiste since all the perceived big acts currently are not doing Highlife.”
“We have buried our own and pursuing Dancehall music and the likes and interestingly, the VGMA has been promoting the agenda by rewarding such artistes with the topmost prizes,” he said.
Apart from VGMA, the prominent musician who is loved for his songs such as Akoko Ba, Adwoa Amissah, Let’s Be Happy, Simigua among others, blamed the media for fuelling the present narrative.
He mentioned the media has not been serious about righting the wrongs by failing to criticise the happenings and that is equally not helping matters.
“The media cannot be absolved from what is happening to Highlife music now. They don’t do their own research to ask critical questions.”
“For instance, if an artiste plays Reggae beats and sings Twi or Fante, we call it Highlife music which is totally wrong because Highlife has its own beats.”
“Also, the members on the Selection Committee of VGMA are also guilty because they don’t make the right selection. So if critics say Highlife music is dying, it means some people are not doing their homework well,” he added.
On Saturday, March 18, Charterhouse announced nominees for the various categories. While some categories were competitive, generating solid conversations, the Highlife Artiste of the Year category which has Kofi Kinaata, Akwaboah, Adina and Kuami Eugene as contenders, is missing in the hierarchy of discussion of this year’s VGMA event scheduled for May 13, 2023.
“I’m not surprised the Highlife category has only four artistes because the young ones believe that doing other music genres will win them more recognition and awards. Thus our artistes are switching to other music styles but that is not helping the positive cause of Highlife music,” he stated.