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Joe Mettle
Joe Mettle
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TGMA and gospel artistes’ ‘headache’

Until Joe Mettle ‘shattered the glass ceiling’ by grabbing the Artiste of the Year award in the wee hours of Sunday, April 9, 2017, the flagship prize of the Vodafone Ghana Music Awards (VGMA), now known as Telecel Ghana Music Awards (TGMA), had always eluded the gospel music fraternity.

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This means that 18 years after the awards scheme was established in 1999, the gospel community could boast of winning the ultimate prize for the first time, thanks to Joe Mettle for breaking that jinx.

And that might have paved the way for another gospel act, Diana Hamilton, to grab the covetous Artiste of the Year award in 2021, a year that saw very tough competition against the likes of Lynx Entertainment signee KiDi.

TGMA is an annual hallmark event within Ghana's music industry, and according to organisers Charterhouse, its primary aim is to recognise and honour the contributions of Ghanaian musicians towards the advancement and enrichment of the nation's music landscape. 

It has served as a platform to celebrate the talents and achievements of artistes who have played pivotal roles in shaping and expanding the local music scene.

However, it is interesting to mention that gospel music players sometimes felt “inadequate” when it comes to the TGMA.

If not so, why should it take the “shaking” of Table of Men (TOM), an advocacy group for gospel music, to grant gospel artistes some audience, especially when it came to Artiste of the Year? Or is that not the case?

While it is expected that TGMA will always be a night of glory and recognition, it has sometimes turned into a source of tension and discord, maybe, even a thorn in the flesh of many gospel artistes, and it's time to explore the reasons behind this.

Brouhaha

In the world of showbiz razzmatazz, gospel music doesn’t really have a place or in other words, it is not a very suitable place to preach about God’s kingdom and business.
Unless it is an exclusive gospel awards ceremony, secular artistes and music appear always to have an upper hand when it comes to such awards ceremonies.

Faces of secular artistes are mostly used to promote these events and the trend hasn’t been different from what happens here in Ghana.

Is it not surprising that an industry that always boasts of solid gospel acts such as Daughters of Glorious Jesus, who topped the charts in the early 20s, has never earned the bragging rights as Artiste of the Year until 2017? Interesting? No?

Cecilia Marfo swerve

In 2011, Cecilia’s Marfo’s Afunuba literally played from every corner of the street. But for the intent of exaggeration, one may not even be wrong to say it played in the clubs too. 

However, while everyone was expecting Cecilia Marfo to win Artiste of the Year, it was given to the trio, VIP. 

Even at that time, VIP, as a group, wasn’t so vibrant and didn’t have a song bigger than Cecilia Marfo’s Afunuba, which was all over the place. Yet, they walked home with the topmost award that year.

Exit TGMA 

Year after year, gospel players and their followers have argued (especially when things don’t go their way), that Gospel musicians should turn their back on TGMA because they have no business being part of a scheme that treats them like they don’t matter. 

Their argument has been based on the fact that it is somebody’s business, and it’s obvious that over the years, gospel music and artistes aren’t a priority of the organisers.

Thus, boycotting TGMA will allow members of the gospel industry to make some demands that will inure to their benefit, so they stop playing second fiddle.” 

Such claims were strongly re-echoed by TOM, whose goal was to be the mouthpiece of the gospel music fraternity and not swallow whatever was thrown at them in silence. 

They were all over the place, making strong arguments and equally mobilising support for gospel artistes nominated, especially in the Artiste of the Year category.
While some considered the move by TOM as one meant to help push God’s work, others on the other hand thought they were overly desperate for awards, which is not the core objective of the gospel music ministry. 

They have, however, been criticised for supporting only their favourite artistes and projecting them for the Artiste of the Year award. Could such claims be true, considering that there seems to be “no show” from TOM?

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Nacee in Artiste of the Year race

This year’s TGMA Artiste of the Year has Black Sherif, King Promise, Kuami Eugene, Sarkodie and Stonebwoy, with Nacee as the only gospel act in the category.

The selection of this year’s Artiste of the Year could be a reflection of happenings over the years, considering that Gospel acts such as Piesie Esther and Joyce Blessings, who did great in the year under review, didn’t get slots in the category. 

While we await the next Artiste of the Year and the one to take over from Black Sherif (or maybe he will retain the title), is it safe to ask if Nacee can make the gospel fraternity proud again by bringing ‘home’ its third Artiste of the Year win?
Well, the Grand Arena of Accra International Conference Centre (AICC) will provide the answers when it hosts this year’s TGMA on Saturday, June 1.

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