Thursday, 11 September 2014

Channel O TV Boss, Lee Kasumba Defends Awards Nominees

Channel O Africa manager, Leslie Kasumba answered some questions ahead of the Channel O Africa Music Video Awards taking place on Saturday, 29 November at Nasrec Expo Centre in Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa.

Speaking during the release of the nominees for the awards, Kasumba said, "The quality of music videos we have seen over the past few years is testament to the way music videos are playing an increasingly important role in the promotion of African music. It is refreshing to see newcomers nominated with industry veterans in this year’s nominees list and it proves that there is no barrier to making an impact on the music scene. The music and videos produced on our African soil is of the same, if not even better, quality as that of those produced internationally and most of our nominees are no stranger to performing on global stages.”

I can see that this year's nomination is a very West and South -centric affair. Why?

I don't think it has anything to do with a west and southern affair as much as it has to do with the amount of music released. We do the best we can to ensure that we cover all regions, we do in fact have the the biggest names in East Africa that form part of the Urban Market and have had a good year covered this year namely: Elani- a new act in Kenya that is really doing well. Eddy Kenzo from you Uganda that had the biggest hits on youtube, Navio from Uganda who has been consistent in terms of dropping videos and spreading his continental appeal, Sauti Sol who has grown from strength to strength and increased their market share, Diamond from Tanzania who is undoubtedly the king of East Arica at the moment definitely one of the best performers in Africa.

Apart from Diamond who seem to have crossover appeal. What can the East do to get it right?
I think people are getting it right, to be honest, every year there are different stars from different regions. STL and Victoria had a great year last year for example Camp Mulla dominated the year before. Necessary Noise at their height was dominating and Wyre is possibly one of the best dance-hall artists from Africa. There is no formula to a cross over appeal, music just happens. Music should be organic and has no boundaries, yes at different times different areas artists dominate but it all changes. East Africa is doing well, in relation to its ratio in popular numbers.

Where are the female artistes? The ones nominated feel like they got there on the strength of the male counterpart they collabo-ed with - no, I'm not a feminist.

Certainly, this is a global question. For every one Beyonce there are 5 male counterparts. Its also a case of asking who really released this year and who was getting radio and cub play around the continent this year. I think its unfair to say that the ladies who made it this year were based off their male counterparts - can one really doubt the impact that Tiwa has had? or Lizha James from Lusiphone Africa for example. Or did Seyi Shay have a male artist bring her on - or isn't she the entire package, Niyola has been in the industry for a while and worked hard for the nomination and Thembi Seete has more than paid her dues as part of one of the first kwaito groups in SA that were dominated by the ladies- Boomshaka..Not at all. I could continue but I feel my point has been made.
Just like we don't select artists of regions - music is beyond borders, we certainly don't select off gender. Its all about who dominated and who released who had a good year and thats who we celebrate.

Will Channel O Awards ever be hosted in Kenya?

Of course this is something we have been exploring it comes down to investment from corporate within the region. But Kenya is a beautiful country.

Anthing else you would like to add?

The judging process was a continental one and we sent it out to DJ's across the regions. We simply tallied up the votes and what we got was what was sent. We chose DJ's because they basically drive popular culture and are in the clubs, and thats where music is really felt, in the clubs and in the street, where no one cares where the artist is from its just about a good sound and beat.
Each year its become harder and harder and a lot of artists do get left out because not everyone can be nominated. But while its unfortunate that not everyone can make the cut, it certainly is celebratory and a true testimony to how far the industry has gone, that we can have an all African awards ceremony and still feel like people have been excluded. Its incredible and we are proud to have been part of the industry for the last 17 years. African music is at its golden era right now and we are all living that African dream. From broadcasters to press, writers to bloggers, consumers to artists, and so forth.