Will Rwanda’s new music Awards last the distance?

(L-R) Judo Kanobana, Dennis Nsanzamahoro and Alex Muyoboke who are part of the awards organising team.

In August, a new platform dubbed ‘Music Awards Rwanda’ (MAR) was unveiled to recognise outstanding local artistes as a way to spur competition among them with a mission to promote quality and make Rwandan music more dynamic.

The awards are expected to bridge the gap that was left behind by the collapse of Salax Awards, in 2016, according to the organisers.

The team behind ‘Music Awards Rwanda’ comprises of people who have been in the industry for years and are already aware of the ups and downs of the local entertainment industry in general.

Part of the team that will organise the awards is Alex Muyoboke, the Awards managing director; Judo Kanobana, the chairman; David Bayingana, in-charge of event management and Richard Kwizera, the media and communication coordinator.

Judo Kanobana, who has been in the music industry for over 15 years as an event organiser, says the awards will play a big impact in redefining Rwanda’s music.

“Sometimes when, for instance, local artistes’ songs are played on TV stations in the region and on the continent, the talk show presenters on those TVs find it very difficult to introduce them to the audience. Such an award is an identity to the artiste. It is surely part of the CV that can also help them market themselves as well as an advantage to their music business,” he said.

The Mane music label CEO, Ramadhan Mupende, alias Bad Rama, cautioned  the organisers against favouritism when selecting the winners.

He admits that they have learnt lessons from past awards like the Salax Awards and is optimistic that early preparations will be key to the success of the awards when the first edition takes place in January next year.

“There are several reasons behind the collapse of previous awards and we are trying to learn from that. What I can say is that we have our own way that we are organising the awards and of course we have to be ready with plans B or C.”

“I am optimistic that these awards will not only bring competition among artistes but also inspire others to come up with more awards in the industry because we really need more than one awards concept”

Alex Muyoboke, who has managed big artistes like The Ben, Tom Close, Urban Boys, Dream Boys and Charly na Nina among many, has always felt it is a shame that Rwanda is the only country in the region, if not the continent, that does not have an awards platform to recognise and motivate artistes.

Alex Muyoboke, the Music Awards Rwanda Managing Director, shows a replica of the awards that will be given to outstanding artistes./Photos by Eddie Nsabimana

“If our artistes are winning awards outside the country, why don’t we organise our own platform, or even more than one, like the other countries do? It is a shame to say that we are fighting for the development of the music industry yet there isn’t even one single award for our artistes”. When the awards were unveiled l, The Mane music label boss Ramadhan Mupende, also known as Bad Rama, cautioned the organisers to avoid favouritism so as to protect the integrity of the awards.

 “Awards should not be something to joke around with. They (organisers) shouldn’t be driven by favouritism if this initiative is to have real impact on the Rwandan music industry. I would prefer to see them leave it open to the public and the artistes to decide to ensure that everything is done with transparency. Let an artiste win an award not because you are friends but on merit. In this case, we will see only positive changes in our music,” said the music promoter who manages artistes like Safi Madiba, Queen Cha and Marina.

John Kalisa, a writer for Kigali Hits, an entertainment website and one of the most experienced journalists in Rwanda’s showbiz industry, says the new awards will bring the best out of local artistes but cautions the organisers to learn from Salax Awards’ failures if the awards are to last for a long time.

Showbiz reporter John Kalisa

“As someone who has followed closely previous awards, my advice is for them to be careful about rigging when choosing the winners for the awards because this leads to credibility issues”.

Joel Rutaganda, who is the brain behind Rwandan Music First, a campaign initiated to promote local musicians by reaching out to their fans through road shows to improve the artiste-audience bond believes recognising outstanding artistes will both energize them do better in future music projects as well as help them attract close attention from their fan base.

The City radio presenter also suggests that a certain sum of money should be given to the award winner so as to give them a reason to work harder and produce quality and presentable music at the awards and on a regular basis as well as make them hungry to achieve more in future.

Joel Rutaganda

“It was not good for artistes to spend a lot of countless hours in the studio doing music in a country that does not have any awards. That is why we need to support anyone who comes with such initiative and we are ready to welcome many more because we want to see our music reach another level. But seeing an artiste getting the award and go back home without any other package accompanying the prize is not good. Organisers should seriously think about it,” he said.

Although Dennis Nsanzamahoro, the awards project coordinator, refused to divulge whether the winners will get cash prizes too, he confirmed that the organisers are seriously thinking about it. 

“We are suggesting a lot of ways to reward artistes on top of the prize and we are confident that we will work out something tangible”.

He also revealed that the organising team is encouraged by the majority of artistes who have welcomed the awards and positive discussions with potential sponsors.

Having realized that some artistes have projects to release in the next two months, organisers decided to shift the award-giving gala to January, from December 1, as previously announced.

“We changed the date of the awards gala because some artistes are expected to release songs in the next few months and, given that we cannot consider them in the next edition, we decided to shift the awards to January to avoid complaints from artistes,” Nsanzamahoro said.

Artistes will be nominated between December 20 and 25th, before the voting process begins. Afterwards, both the jury and votes from the public will be considered before the winner in each of the 16 categories is announced.

Artistes will be nominated in 16 categories namely:

BEST ARTIST OF THE YEAR

BEST MALE ARTIST OF THE YEAR

BEST FEMALE ARTIST OF THE YEAR

BEST GROUP OF THE YEAR

BEST HIP HOP ARTIST OF THE YEAR

BEST R&B ARTIST OF THE YEAR

BEST AFROBEAT ARTIST OF THE YEAR

BEST GOSPEL ARTIST OF THE YEAR

BEST SONG OF THE YEAR

BEST PRODUCER OF THE YEAR

BEST VIDEO MUSIC OF THE YEAR

SONG WRITTER OF THE YEAR

BEST DJ OF THE YEAR

BEST UPCOMING ARTIST OF THE YEAR

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT OF THE YEAR

BEST TRADITIONAL SONG OF THE YEAR

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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