NBC’s Music Nominees Questioned By an Expert

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By Frederick Philander WINDHOEK “Allow me to compliment the 2006 Sanlam NBC Music Awards Committee for having certainly reached another milestone in the history of the Music Awards,” flatteringly starts a critical, open letter to the NBC, one of the organizers of the annual Music Awards competition, by local music promoter Andre Gariseb. The letter has been the source of a lot of radio phone-ins over the past week. “I meant well with this letter to which I have had no official reply from the NBC. In fact, I am being considered as an enemy of the NBC,” responded coolheaded Andre calmly on inquiry from Art/Life yesterday. His letter, of which Art/Life has a copy, states: “The increase in the number of entries is indeed an indication that more artists want to be associated with such a spectacular event. This year’s event is undeniably different, simply because it will be the first time whereby original Namibian music genres are recognized and promoted.” The letter was addressed to the PRO department of the national broadcaster. “This comes aptly at a time when this nation with a strong cultural heritage is searching for a national identity and there would not have been a better way than through music. Music remains very dear to me and I fully support Sanlam NBC Music Awards because it recognizes and honours Namibian music makers and supporters,” Gariseb said prior to critically examining the present format of the competition important to many local artists.. “I have a couple of contentions with regard to the just released nominees list for this year’s awards. Please let it be understood that I have great respect for the award organizers, associates and most importantly the artists and thus, the following reservations are by any means not personal condemnations of anybody in particular. “As a music industry consultant I felt obliged to raise my reservations on the manner in which decisions of the nationally recognized Sanlam NBC Music Awards are made,” he asserted in expressing the following reservations: 1) Unfair Competition: “It is very interesting to note that a very small number of female artists are participating in this year’s awards. With Patricia /Ochurus and Gall Level being an exception, the few ladies that are nominated are notably only dominating the Shambo R&B/Soul categories, which makes one wonder what happened to the more vocal sisters such as Cutie, The Angels, Snazzy, Stella, Janice, Katja, Rah, Madabella, Meisie, Tania, etc. “Another conjecture is regarding the fact that some whales are not in their own territory, but end up in a small gold fish’s tank. Could it be that too many bigger whales entered their territory? I understand that some artists, especially the upcoming ones, are only experimenting with music but there are those that are obviously established in certain genres. Examples: The Dogg, who proclaimed himself the Kwaito Master, is not nominated in the Kwaito category but in the best Afro Pop, Hip-hop/Rap categories? “Also Tate Buti, the godfather of Kwiku music, is not in the Soukous/Rumba/Kwiku category but in the best Afro Pop? Apart from competing in his familiar turf, Phura, the king of Ma /khaisa is also trying his luck in the best Soukous/Rumba/Kwiku? “Why is the gospel category the only exception whereby “entries are open to solo artisst or groups that have 80% gospel content on their album but any (genre) artist/s or group is allowed to enter in all the other categories (possibly in the Best Namibian Traditional/Cultural/Folk, Oviritje, Kwaito, Shambo, Afro Pop, Hip-hop/Soul, Rock/Alternative, etc)?” 2) Best Single: “It is my understanding that a single is (similarly like an album or LP) a product on its own. Point 7.6 of the awards’ specific category rules and regulations clearly stipulate that “entry should be from an artist/s or group who have not yet commercially released a full record/album but have released a single on the market. It does not make sense to have four nominees in this particular category especially when only two of the nominees (Gal Level & G3) are the only ones to have released singles on the market! My question is on what grounds were the songs “Kom ons party” by Kajozz and “Ghetto Luv” by Eddy and Onesto that are not singles end up being nominated for this category. “Also why were the nominees for this category made public and the nominees for the Best Selling Artist kept for later? Will the winner of the Best Single also be determined by major music selling houses (shops) and elected on the number of copies sold during the period of the awards? This either way will be inappropriate and unfair especially when there isn’t (currently) an active regulatory body with a proper record sales auditing system to transparently prove which artist or group sold more albums or a single. “How come there isn’t a category for the best album?” 3) Best Selling Artist: “The awards’ regulations for this particular category clearly stipulate that ‘the winner in this category will be determined by major music selling houses (shops). The winner is an artist who has sold more CDs or cassettes during the period of the awards’. “I hope that this part is carefully considered and that a decision reached will be based on realistic, transparent, fair and audited national sales reports. Simply because according to my knowledge there is currently not a proper selling and distribution network to sell music nationally. “Again the absence of proper audited sales reports and an active regulatory body that can transparently prove which artist/group/band sold more copies of a particular album or a single makes it prematurely unjust to determine the best selling Namibian artist/s. In the past the winner of this category was selected based on sales records of a few music retailers (notably American Records, Universal Sounds, Rhythm Music Shop, Ears and L’ Afrique Music). This is unfair as some of the equally prominent artists might not have strong sales in Windhoek but could be selling more copies in other parts of the country. “This is similar to any national elections whereby the winner isn’t determined only by votes received from one or two towns but from votes counted nationally. Either we erase this category (and the Best Single category) until we have a recognized and active regulatory body with a proper record sales auditing system, which can transparently prove sales or we continue with it but re-name the category to “Best Selling Artist in Windhoek”. If not then it should not be seen as unfair should this category be dominated by internationally selling platinum (RISA standard) Namibian artists such as Stefan Ludik, Nia Nell and Juanita du Plessis.” 4) Artist of the year: “I am completely astonished that nominees in the Artist of the Year category are released simultaneously with the other categories. I am very curious to know on which merits were the four nominees for the Artist of the Year category selected. “This cannot be obvious particularly when other equally prominent talents such as Phura, Sunny Boy, Stanley, Jerico, Ndilimani Cultural Troupe, Bullet Concert group are not even considered. I hope that originality, artistic ability, creativity, arrangement and production, overall sound, entertainment value and popularity for audio were also the base for the judge’s assessment? If that is the case then it would be infinitely insulting and disrespecting to other equally prominent nominees,” he contented. “Although Rome was not built in a day I believe there is enough room to improve on the Sanlam NBC Music Awards. Consider these reservations as positive criticism which could help the organizers to reach excellence and also evaluate the status of this prominent project. The Sanlam NBC Music Awards is recognized as a national project and there are very sensitive points and to avoid misconceptions such points should be handled with careful consideration. Otherwise you fail in your duty to highlight further to the media and customers in Namibia and internationally those artists who have excelled in their particular field,” he charged. “I hope that you will sincerely take my reservations into consideration and rethink your strategy so that we may fairly encourage and motivate the general public to appreciate Namibian music and musicians as well as to offer musicians, both established and up-and-coming a (fair) platform and springboard for future success. “While I am waiting on your response to the collective questions asked I want to salute the 2006 Sanlam NBC Music Awards Committee for rising to this challenge of creating a platform to celebrate Namibian music. After all it is for the love of local music,” he concluded. Earlier this year NBC invited local music experts and the media people to help iron out some of the many problems Andre is referring to in the above article. The NBC/Sanlam Music Awards takes place tonight