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Dancehall awards under fire

Organisers of the annual ZimDancehall Awards have come under attack from different circles that feel the decision to select winners through Facebook votes is unfair. The critics say the process will reflect general popularity of artistes other than the value and creativity of their products in respect of requirements of different categories. Many commentators feel the organisers should have a panel of judges made up of music experts that can factually evaluate entries to reward deserving artistes and limit the Facebook platform to categories that reflect popularity such as the People’s Choice Award.
 Dancehall awards under fire
The awards are set for East End Hall on March 6 and nominees have been announced.

“Independent judges with a vast knowledge in music should use their expertise to determine the winners. Resorting to Facebook is not fair since some artistes are not as popular or active on social media. The established artistes with a wider fan base can easily influence the votes in their favour,” said a nominee who requested anonymity.

“I feel this criteria works to the detriment of young musicians who might be talented but are not popular on Facebook. The fans are only supposed to contribute their votes on the People’s Choice Award,” he said.

Another artiste said the Facebook platform could fan animosity between fans of various music camps.

“There has been a war of words between fans from different camps and this process will only increase such cold war. Independent judges should have a say in the awards,” he said.

A Harare-based music critic said the awards need to grow out of controversy and follow standards of many other awards held locally.

“The other awards have judges and people vote in one or two categories. That should be the norm and we expect the dancehall awards to grow from being a platform of controversy to recognise deserving artistes and inspire others in the genre,” he said.

The founder of the awards, Phineas Mushayi recently revealed that they tried to make the selection process as credible as possible by engaging the services of various players and fans.

Social media is awash with pleas from artistes who are using every trick in the book to gather votes.

While Mushayi is on record saying fans had the say in the outcome of the awards, he said they had put in measures to ensure their method was not compromised.

“We gave the fans an opportunity to have a say in the process as a way of motivating them. Their views will contribute a certain percentage while journalists, music promoters and other players in the arts industry will also give their input. There is a panel of judges who will also judge and compile the votes to see who has the highest percentage,” he said.

Mushayi said they were trying everything in their capacity to make the awards – now in their second year – glamorous after having approached a number of sponsors to make the event live up to its billing.

“Talks with different potential sponsors are already underway and we are promising a bigger and better event as compared to the first edition.

“We decided to host the inaugural ZimDancehall Awards in March last year in recognition of the acceptance of the genre as a force to reckon with on the local showbiz scene.”

But despite his assurance, it remains to be seen whether the awards ceremony will not be riddled by violent scenes, drunken behaviour and allegations of “rigging” which have come to associate of the dancehall events and outings in Zimbabwe.

It is also hoped that the event will help in dispelling this negative perception of dancehall music as a genre for misguided and violent youths and also win the hearts of the more mature and business-minded sectors of society.

Some of the popular names on the list of nominees are Tocky Vibes, Lady Squanda, Soul Jah Love and Seh Calaz. Herald

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