If you have closely tracked music award recognition in Nigeria, you would probably have noticed a consistent trend in how they are curated. The categories are usually safe, covering only major areas that are geared towards celebrating A- list artistes and new entrants.
Then the award recipients are usually a clone of the same people that preceding awards shows have honoured. So, a Burna Boy as ‘Artiste of the Year’ at one award is sure to receive the same recognition all through the other upcoming awards.
And this is not a bad thing in itself, if of course the recognition is rightly deserved. But half of the time it usually isn’t, but is given as a diplomatic gesture.
The truth is that no award promoter is daring enough to give out awards based on how the audience voted, especially if the ‘audience vote’ insists that an unexpected artiste should be considered winner instead.
This is basically how Nigerian awards work, except for a few exceptions.
There is hardly any award system in Nigeria that is as comprehensively-layered as the Headies. As one of the most coveted recognition platforms in Nigeria when it comes to music curation, the Headies has been at the frontlines of celebrating music milestones for years.
The Headies nominations recently came in and as expected it features one of the most expansive award categories of any award in Nigeria; with about 24 categories in play. So, artistes who have worked hard through the year, even if their music isn’t mainstream Afro-pop are considered worthy enough to receive a Headies nod. This is very commendable because it rewards non-mainstream players and give them the incentive to keep doing their kind of music.
On the Headies list this year, we had music artistes like Brymo, Cavemen and Alpha P to name a few, as nominees in various categories. This is a step in the right direction for the industry, as hardly any other award gives these artiste types any recognition.
But the truth is that even a Headies award system is not as all encompassing as it should be.
What happened to award categories in areas like best Fuji music and best Gospel album? You will hardly find any award in the west that doesn’t celebrate genres like Gospel music; even with core awards like the Hiphop and Soul train awards.
As African music takes the global stage, we need to be more defined about how we curate industry events, because if the industry is to grow on all fronts, it needs to carry all stakeholders along, regardless of the niche they represent.
This article was written by Henri ‘Yire; connect on Instagram with him here