After the traumatic experiences of the Born and Bred Awards, every other award show is now watched with baited breathes as we wait to cringe from the mistakes and the flops, the errors and the amateurism. There was not a single award show in the length and breadth of Zambia that I could proudly boast of. Therefore, like many others I too was praying with the Zambian Music Awards (ZMAs) sponsored by Zambian Breweries, would not join the long list of award shows that leave indelible unwelcome images in our minds. The ZMAs did dish up a feast and a post-mortem is in order.
These awards were held at the Government Complex on 22 February 2013, from the looks of things the venue has become the default hosting venue for just about every big event in this country. I must be the first to commend the stage setup, with the multiple background screens which were used to great effect to make the stage smaller than it actually is. Honestly, I think that stage is too large and if there is not much activity going on the stage it can look like a very lonely place. The lighting of the stage was also brilliant knowing when to accentuate it on the stage and when to pull it back. There was none of that haphazard flickering of the lights at will because someone has been accorded unmonitored responsibility with the switch.
The stage management was also well coordinated and it almost looked flawless. Part of this flawlessness can of course be attributed to the fact that what we were viewing was a well edited version of the show. Chishala Chitoshi Jr. as a host carried the night well without being too much of a distraction. The presenters came on stage presented the awards and vacated the stage, leaving way for the programme to move on. I cannot help but mention that the idea to have the presenter’s speeches written out for them was a rather fantastic idea. The Lord only knows what would have come out of their mouths had they been given the liberty to say whatever popped up in their mind. The winners of the awards must have been given some warning not to go up on stage with the entire battalion of their friends seeking their 15 seconds of screen time. Their speeches were brief and nice. I just have to make mention Slap Dee’s speech where he acknowledged that one of the speeches he had made at some other awards show, we chose to forget caused some controversy (with Macky 2) and he would not make a repeat of the same. It was a good touch of maturity, though this entire lovey dovey makes hip hop boring. The fans live for the controversy, the drama, the fights, the name calling, the larger than life antics not hugs and kisses leave that game to the R & B fellows.
The Zambian Music Awards were definitely miles better than the rubbish we had become accustomed to watching. They can proudly lay claim to the title of having the best awards in the country thus far. However, I would caution them not to rest on their laurels; there were some glitches that my critical eye noticed. The performances were really nothing to write home about. None of the performances were wow or sounded great either. I think the most disappointing part was the live band, the performances of Danny and Exile which were accompanied by the live band miserably failed to do justice to the recorded versions. Personally I do not think the acoustics at Government Complex are well suited for live performances. The artist’s performances sounded like someone was singing in a big paint tin. The performances too were not as diverse as I would have liked them to be. You had B-flow, Slap Dee, Ruff Kid, Judy, Kay Figo, Macky 2, all performing Fruity Loops and Cubase produced kind of music, the exception was Amayenge. It would have been nice to have included performances from artists like Scarlet, Uncle Rex, or Matthew Tembo.
Then I would like the organisers to explain why the Gospel category was awarded before the main show. May we be allowed to conclude that the Gospel categories are an inconvenience category that they do not deserve to be awarded on the same night as the rest of the awards? Gospel music is one of the biggest selling music in this country, I wonder why it was sidelined and put on the periphery. I can probably understand awarding the instrumentalists earlier but the Gospel category award I have trouble with. Then of course, perhaps it had something to do with the awards being sponsored by a brewery.
The next is no shortcoming on the part of the organisers but the artists themselves. It would be enjoyable to see videos instead of photographs of the artists as they were announced as nominees. Therefore, artists besides focussing on releasing incredible music should also be seeking to have music videos. They must be outstanding definitely or else we are just fine with seeing portraits for the time being.
There is one thing that I need to address; a lot of folks have been complaining that there was favouritism in the awards given out. This is stemming from the fact that Slap Dee walked away with five awards while Macky 2 only walked away with one despite being nominated in most of the categories. Well clearly there was favouritism, he was a fan favourite. Fans voted for Slap Dee more than Macky 2 plain and simple. These are awards are based on popularity unlike the Grammy’s in the United States of America who have music experts deciding who walks away with the award. So if people are so depressed about who did win, next time vote more.
The Zambian Music Awards showed that we do have the potential to host a great awards show. This is because the right people were behind the organisation and not where others pretend to have the skills and yet they clearly do not. Of course the Zambian Music Awards had the financial muscle to put up such a show, and I doubt any would be sponsor would be hesitant to jump on board such a good production next year. All it takes is to be professional. This should not be ceiling, only the foundations for greater things to come. Yes, take a bow Zambian Music Awards, you deserve it.