This follows the highlife musician’s comments he made on Graphic Showbiz on 30th March, Gyedu Blay Ambolley, on the other hand, sees the award scheme as a contribution to the limping state of Highlife music.
In his view, VGMA, one of the biggest and much-anticipated events on the Ghanaian entertainment calendar, gives outsiders a false impression of music representation in Ghana. He said the scheme gave the topmost awards to artists pursuing other music genres, which further affect the dwindling fortunes of Highlife music.
He explained to Graphic Showbiz that his observation is confirmed by the number as well as the quality of artists nominated in the Best Highlife Artiste of the Year category.
“It is unfortunate that people think when you sing in Twi or Fante over a Dancehall or Reggae beats it automatically makes it Highlife music. That is not true but it has become the norm over the years because these are the kinds of music VGMA rewards.”
“Today, if anyone wants to have an idea of what Ghana represents in terms of music, I bet the person will not count any Highlife artiste since all the perceived big acts currently are not doing Highlife.”
“We have buried our own and pursuing Dancehall music and the likes and interestingly, the VGMA has been promoting the agenda by rewarding such artists with the topmost prizes,” he said.
Commenting on the issue is Kofi Okyere Darko who thinks Ambolley is not been grateful for what the VODAPHONE GHANA MUSIC AWARDS (VGMA) has done for the industry for the past few years.
On his Facebook page, the Media Expert detailed his final words to the legendary highlife musician.
Lee won’t sit on the VGMA Board (in & out for over 20 years) & allow Hilife to die when he’s played, produced & managed some of the best Hilife songs & artists for almost 30 years.Celebrated Hilife musicians like Amandzeba, Bessa Simons, Okraku Mante, Andy Dosty, Diana Hopeson, Kiki Banson & many great music talents & proponents won’t sit/allow VGMA to be a curse to Hilife when they sit on the Board.It will take only an ungrateful artiste to ever suggest VGMA is a curse to Hilife.
I typically wouldn’t have commented when Ambolley said “The VGMA is a curse to Hilife music” but I realised he’s done loads of lose talks in the last couple of years, especially against his own colleagues and to people who should look up to him in the music industry.Choosing to make that unfortunate comment about VGMA in public, I decided to respond as a prominent member who’s been part of the VGMA & the Board for over 20 years.Ambolley’s made vitriolic attacks on StoneBwoy, Daddy Lumba & many of his colleagues these last few years. What’s wrong with him?Every creative has the responsibility to evolve over time, or else they go stale.At a legendary status, one earns his place in their chosen field of endeavour, & should not make mediocre statements against his colleagues filled with malice & reckless baloney. That’s not the place of an icon.I know it’s hard to learn to be left-handed in one’s old age but I guess Ambolley could learn from the late great Paapa Yankson, Joe Mensah, CK Mann, AB Crentsil & the celebrated Pat Thomas. True men with noble characters who remember those who look(ed) out for them…Lee, “the small boy” as he describes me, supported him for almost 30 years of his career & made sure he was not left out when he facilitated the legends Glo signed up when they came to GH (he shouldn’t forget his insincerity with how he handled himself in that space). I always knew this day would come somehow… That’s how I know him; a charlatan.Wisdom is not a preserve of old age & grey hair. There are older men in communities/families but children often rise to lead.These are my last words to the great Ambolley, our last from the good old Western stock.I still love his music
Mic drop!!! He said.
Apart from VGMA, the prominent musician who is loved for his songs such as Akoko Ba, Adwoa Amissah, Let’s Be Happy, and Simigua among others, blamed the media for fuelling the present narrative.
He mentioned the media has not been serious about righting the wrongs by failing to criticise the happenings and that is equally not helping matters.
“The media cannot be absolved from what is happening to Highlife music now. They don’t do their own research to ask critical questions.”
“For instance, if an artiste plays Reggae beats and sings Twi or Fante, we call it Highlife music which is totally wrong because Highlife has its own beats.”
“Also, the members of the Selection Committee of VGMA are also guilty because they don’t make the right selection. So if critics say Highlife music is dying, it means some people are not doing their homework well,” he added.
On Saturday, March 18, Charterhouse announced nominees for the various categories. While some categories were competitive, generating solid conversations, the Highlife Artiste of the Year category which has Kofi Kinaata, Akwaboah, Adina and Kuami Eugene as contenders, is missing in the hierarchy of discussion of this year’s VGMA event scheduled for May 13, 2023.
“I’m not surprised the Highlife category has only four artists because the young ones believe that doing other music genres will win them more recognition and awards. Thus our artists are switching to other music styles but that is not helping the positive cause of Highlife music,” Ambolley stated.