History was made at the recently held Vodafone Ghana Music Awards when, for the first time in eighteen (18) years, a gospel artiste won the ultimate award in the VGMA.
Prior to his win, I had earlier outlined reasons gospel artistes had not won the award before and why they may never win that award. In my article dubbed ‘Why Gospel Artistes May Never Win VGMA Artiste of the Year,’ I pointed out apathy, poor management, weak branding, Christian doctrinal constrictions, Board bias among others as factors to this phenomenon.
However, on the night of the event, a lot of people had the shock of their lives when Joe Mettle was announced winner of the overall Artiste of the Year in VGMA 2017. This is not the first time a gospel artiste has won the Artiste of the Year award but it is the first time ‘they’ are winning the ultimate award. Until 2008, the highest award was the Most Popular Song of the Year. The very year a gospel artiste won Most Popular Song award, the most prestigious award was changed to Artiste of the Year – that was the year Kwaw Kesse won it. But for that change, Pastor Lenny Akpade, who won the Most Popular Song of the Year with ‘Most High God’ in 2008, would have been the ultimate winner in that year.
Already, some people have started raising eyebrows as to why Joe Mettle should win the award at the expense of artistes like Sarkodie and Stonebwoy while those on his side are celebrating.
In the first place, every artiste that gets nominated in the awards is a potential winner of any category they find themselves in and Joe Mettle wasn’t an exception but I am sure Joe Mettle was one of the ‘least expected’ to have won the award. So what did the magic (or should I say miracle)? What broke the jinx?
Public Outcry: In the past, people from the gospel music fraternity and their followers had registered their displeasure at why after all their hit songs and hard work, they were not able to win the ultimate award at the VGMA.
After this year’s nominations were released, the same argument of why gospel musicians didn’t win Artiste of the Year came up through write ups like what I did, and radio discussions. People started to empathise with gospel music and Joe Mettle for that matter (the only nominee in that category for this year).
Quest for Change: Some people were fed up with the same secular artistes winning the ultimate slot and simply wanted change. Their quest was not that they believed the gospel artiste had done better than the secular counterparts in the year under review. They wanted change from the norm. They just wanted a gospel artiste to win it this time and that may have reflected in their ‘support’ for Joe Mettle.
Snowball Effect on JM Campaign: How the campaign for Joe Mettle to win Artiste of the Year award caught on with people within a short period was amazing. Especially, few weeks to the awards, social media was littered with fierce campaign for him.
In fact, Joe Mettle had earlier on told citifmonline.com in an exclusive interview that he did not personally know some of the people who out of their volition rooted for him in the campaign.
“By God’s grace I have had people, some of whom I don’t even know, campaign for votes for me. We have done our best. It’s left with the Academy and Board to decide but I am 100% hopeful of winning,” he told Citi Showbiz.
People who had earlier on shown support for some secular artistes reared their heads in the ‘last minute’ for Joe Mettle. This was a clear indication of the quest to make a strong historical statement this year.
Critiques on Gospel Artistes: The snowball effect may also have come about by a sudden wake-up call on the gospel artiste through serious critiques on them, their brand and craft. For example, my article on why the gospel artiste may never win Artiste of the Year at VGMA stated some shortfalls of the gospel artistes and these may have goaded them to prove to the world that “yes we can,” hence the verve and zest in the whole Joe Mettle campaign.
VGMA Board under ‘Pressure’: I stated in my previous article that the VGMA Board was biased [my conviction] against gospel as regards their membership composition and inclinations. I had observed that most of the Board members were not gospel inclined. They don’t really follow gospel so when it comes to rooting for gospel music, it becomes difficult for them to win. Owing to these ranting and revelations from us, they may have decided to prove people wrong on that assertion. The Board may just have decided to come to a consensus of breaking that conception. Don’t forget that the Board has 30% stake in determining who wins the category so it is a big deal if the Board members (either collectively or individually) give you their votes.
Salving the George Quaye Effect: It will be recalled that PRO of Charter House, the organisers of the awards who had for the past few years been speaking for the scheme had made an allegation on live TV that gospel musicians were inclined towards offering bribe for award in VGMA than the secular ones.
This allegation brought problems between the organisers and gospel artistes to the extent that some gospel artistes like OJ had to pull out his nominations. Some even threatened to return all plaques of awards they had won at VGMA if George Quaye did not provide proof to his allegation. Grapevine information reaching citifmonline.com indicates that the organisers even had to call some of the aggrieved gospel musicians to trash out the matter.
In that wise, Joe Mettle’s win could possibly have been an award to recompense the gospel fraternity for that seemingly dent that was created by George Quaye on their ‘holy’ reputation. In fact, Mettle’s win could be a truce by the Board (or in essence the organisers) to make peace with these gospel musicians.
Please note that the above reasons are not absolutes. These are possible reasons that may have accounted for Joe Mettle’s win. That notwithstanding, Joe Mettle did quite a good job (even though some secular artiste did better) in the year under review and may have had a lot of people from the General Public, Academy and Board vote for him.
The above mentioned variables may have earned him favour among the three compartments of the VGMA voting system. Granted the parameters translated into votes and that these votes were ahead of Joe Mettle’s contenders, no analysis with category definitions will work in this wise. After nominations, category definitions no longer matter. It’s all about votes!
I congratulate Joe Mettle and Christiandom but my advice to the gospel artistes still stands: they should work on their promotional strategies. If the kind of last minute hype that was given Joe Mettle was given to him in 2016, he would be a bigger brand than he is now.
At this time, Joe Mettle needs to capitalise on this award and deepen his brand. He should not just revel in the fact that he has made history. He should make this history spawn new history making blessings.
By: Kwame Dadzie ([email protected].uk)