akwaboah 5

I have read and heard several arguments on the New Artist of the year nominations for the 2014 Vodafone Ghana Music Awards. Many pundits say that Kumi Guitar is not a new artist because he has been around and was previously known with another name. Others have said that Akwaboah is not a new artist because as a musician he has even written songs which have won him  a Ghana Music Award in the past. By the same argument I can also say that Joey B is not new either, as he has been featured in many songs including D-Black?s ?Vera?, which was nominated for Ghana Music Awards in 2013.

This brings me to the question, what does the Ghana Music Awards scheme describe as ?new artist?? I have not heard the response from Charter House or the VGMA Board but my little understanding of the award category in previous years has been that, if an artist enjoys success for his/her first major commercial/mainstream record, he/she qualifies as a new artist. I don?t think the fact that Akwaboah wrote a song for Becca, which won him an award as a songwriter in the past means he should not be considered as a new artist (a recording artist). I have read articles which quoted Akwaboah?s bio and music history as reasons to disqualify him from the nomination this year.

I have compiled the bios of some renowned international artists which show their music history years ahead of the period they received Grammy Award nominations as a new artist.  Yes, the VGMA is not the Grammy but it certainly provides us with key guidelines on how such award schemes run. The Grammy Award for Best New Artist has been awarded since 1959.  The official guidelines are as follows: ?For a new artist who releases, during the Eligibility Year, the first recording which establishes the public identity of that artist.? Note that this is not necessarily the first album released by an artist. In 2010, Lady Gaga?s exclusion from the Best New Artist category has caused the Recording Academy to change eligibility requirements for the next ceremony. She was ineligible for the nomination because her hit ?Just Dance? had been nominated in 2009. The new rule states that an artist can be nominated as long as the artist hasn?t released an entire album and doesn?t win. So it all goes back to what the guidelines/rules for the awards say. And now to my examples:

In 2010 Keri Hilson was nominated for New Artist of the year. Check out her biography courtesy Wikipedia It included writing songs for Britney Spears and Mary J. Blige.

Keri Lynn Hilson (born December 5, 1982) is an American singer, songwriter and actress. She was born and raised in Decatur, Georgia, and spent most of her youth working with producer Anthony Dent, as a songwriter and background vocalist for several R&B and hip hop artists. By the age of 14, Hilson had secured a record deal with the girl group D?Signe, who later disbanded. She attended Oxford College of Emory University and Emory University in Atlanta, while she continued writing songs for artists, including Britney Spears and Mary J. Blige, with the production and songwriting team, The Clutch. In 2006, Hilson signed with American rapper and producer Timbaland?s record label, Mosley Music. Her breakthrough came the following year after appearing on Timbaland?s single, ?The Way I Are?, which topped charts around the world.

Hilson?s music style is generally R&B and pop, and includes themes around womanhood, sexual intimacy and love. Her musical influences come from her father?s side of the family. Hilson?s debut studio album, In a Perfect World?, was released in 2009, and debuted at number four on the US Billboard 200 chart, eventually being certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). The album spawned the hit singles, ?Knock You Down?, ?Turnin Me On? and ?I Like?. It also earned Hilson two Grammy Award nominations for Best New Artist and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for ?Knock You Down?. Her second studio album, No Boys Allowed, was released in 2010 and was considerably less successful than its predecessor; however, it included the single, ?Pretty Girl Rock?.

In 2014. Kendrick Lamar was nominated for Best New Artist. Check out his bio also:

Kendrick Lamar Duckworth (born June 17, 1987), known simply as Kendrick Lamar, is an American hip hop recording artist from Compton, California. Initially signed to independent record label Top Dawg Entertainment, in 2012, Lamar and the label signed a joint venture deal with Aftermath and Interscope Records. Lamar is also a member of West Coast hip hop supergroup Black Hippy, alongside label-mates and fellow California-based rappers Schoolboy Q, Jay Rock, and Ab-Soul.

Lamar first began to gain major attention in 2010, after the release of his fourth mixtape Overly Dedicated. The next year, he released Section.80, his first independent album to critical acclaim; released exclusively through iTunes and instantly ranked as one of the top digital hip hop releases of the year. Early in his career, before releasing his major label debut, Lamar amassed a large internet following, and had already worked with Dr. Dre, Game, Drake, Young Jeezy, Talib Kweli, Busta Rhymes, E-40, Warren G and Lil Wayne, among other popular artists.

His major label debut studio album good kid, m.A.A.d city, was released October 22, 2012 to widespread acclaim. The album spawned the Top 40 hits ?Swimming Pools (Drank)?, ?Bitch, Don?t Kill My Vibe?, and ?Poetic Justice?. The album, which debuted at number two on the Billboard 200, was later certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). In early 2013, MTV crowned Lamar the No. 1 Hottest MC in the Game, on their annual list. Lamar also received a total of seven Grammy nominations for the 56th Annual Grammy Awards (2014), including Best New Artist, Album of the Year, and Best Rap Song.

I hope by these examples, people can now appreciate the subject a bit more. I think the debate should be about finding out what the VGMA guidelines are and demanding for changes or improvements so that the award scheme to become better.

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