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Let’s Stop Caging Gospel Musicians: The Case for Fair Recognition in Ghana’s Music Industry

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For years, the Ghanaian music industry has faced criticism for overlooking gospel musicians in the awarding of the Artiste of the Year accolade. Despite gospel music’s popularity and influence in Ghana, the genre has only won the award twice in the history of the VGMA. This trend has been attributed to the perceived “caging” of gospel musicians, limiting their chances of winning the award. However, many in the industry, including music producer Kwesi Ernest, argue that gospel musicians should not be judged solely on their genre.

Gospel music has a rich history in Ghana and has been a source of comfort and inspiration for many Ghanaians. The genre has birthed some of the most iconic musicians in the country, such as Yaw Sarpong, Joe Beecham, and Daughters of Glorious Jesus. For the most part, gospel music has a huge following, with many fans citing it as a source of hope and inspiration. Despite this, gospel musicians are often overlooked in favour of their secular counterparts in the Artiste of the Year award category.

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In a recent panel discussion hosted by Berla Mundi ahead of VGMA 2023, Kwesi Ernest stated that gospel has only won twice in all of VGMA history because “maybe we have caged ourselves and allowed others to cage us as ‘peculiar’ people who were not interested in worldly schemes.” He went on to argue that gospel musicians should be judged on the same criteria as their secular counterparts, including the quality, impact, and popularity of their work.

Kwesi Ernest is not alone in his views, as many music enthusiasts and industry insiders have expressed similar sentiments. They argue that gospel musicians should not be judged solely on the basis of their genre. Instead, their work should be evaluated based on its merit, just like any other artist in the industry. For the most part, gospel music has made significant contributions to the Ghanaian music industry, and gospel musicians deserve to be recognised and celebrated for their hard work.

In conclusion, the debate over the Artiste of the Year award has been ongoing for years, with many questioning the fairness of the selection process. However, one thing is clear: gospel musicians have been consistently overlooked in this category. The argument for gospel musicians to be evaluated on their merit, regardless of genre, is a valid one, and it is time for the industry to recognise their contributions to the Ghanaian music scene. The VGMA should give gospel musicians an equal chance to compete for the Artiste of the Year award and acknowledge their hard work and talent.

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