AFRICAN MUSIC AWARDS
Wembley Arena – 15 October 2010
This year’s African Music Awards (AMA) which, started in 2008, aims to be bigger and better. The O2 supported Awards show aims to get 10,000 people rocking in London’s Wembley Arena on October 15. At a press conference held in London’s Africa Centre with the likes of Rapper Sway in attendance, AMA founder Eric Adu said the aim of the awards was simply to bring to mainstream attention the many talented African artists who are currently operating under the radar of the Western media. With the success of African Brit artists such as Dizzee Rascal and Tinchy Stryder, Sway added that this was the right time as African pride was at its height with people now confident to claim their African parentage.
AMA Voting starts September 6 through to October 10 via www.africamusicawards.com. Nominees don’t include just acts from across the four corners of Africa but, also British-based acts of African parentage such as Tinchy Stryder, Sway, Dizzee Rascal, Tinie Tempah and Akon. Incidentally, the Award ceremony’s special guest is Michael Jackson’s elder sister Rebbie Jackson. However, the AMA is not just focusing on highlighting established artists such as Somalia’s K’Naan, Ghana’s Becca, Benin’s Angelique Kidjo or Nigeria’s 2-Face and P Square who are all in the running for your votes. The AMA ran an ‘Unsigned’ competition across London during July (featured recently on the G MaG site) whereby the winner is given a platform to perform at the Awards ceremony.
In addition to the website, African music fans can keep in touch through a free magazine available online or through chain stores such as HMV and Tesco and there are also TV and radio channels on the way. Tickets are on sale now with 10% of sales going towards UNICEF’s ‘UNITE for Children, UNITE against AIDS’ campaign aimed at children affected by HIV and AIDS in Africa.
As part of the Black Music Congress’ 2010 British Black Music Month initiative (on July 5), we highlighted in a seminar the 1971 eponymous debut album by African/World Music pioneers Osibisa as the ‘British Black Music Trailblazing Album’ where group founder Teddy Osei was part of a panel that provided the low-down on the success of the album. In answer to one of the questions, Teddy revealed the respect he had for Ghana’s first president Kwame Nkrumah, how he was a recipient of his grant to study music and performed for him in Yugoslavia. To hear more, we organised ‘Reflecting On The Influence & Legacy Of President Kwame Nkrumah’ on August 24. It was an evening with Teddy and former Nkrumah aide KB Asante discussing Pan-Africanism and Nkrumah's ‘political and cultural’ legacy.
However, there is some sad news to report. On July 30, the group’s founding bassist Spartacus R (nee Roy Bedeau) died in London after a long battle with cancer. Brother Spartacus, whom I worked with very briefly in the late 1970s, spent his last years as a Pan-Africanist and community activist and promoter of the global African GAP online radio station. As if that was not enough for the group (on August 17) another founding member, trumpeter and Teddy Osei’s younger brother Mac Tontoh succumbed to a stroke in Accra, Ghana. Having played in leading Ghanaian bands such as Uhuru in the early to mid 1960s, he moved to Europe in 1968 before co-founding Osibisa in 1969.
Whilst on the RIP tip, I’d like to highlight Tony Adez (born Olu Adetimole), a singer-songwriter, vocal coach, sound engineer and producer. I worked with him on our PA and sound projects until a couple of years ago when he had to give up due to poor health... Kwaku
For more information on these stories and other community activities, visit the British Black Music / BTWSC websites via our LINKS page.