“To Win VGMA, You have to Be In Accra And Your Songs Have To Be Popular In Accra”- Wiyaala
Ghanaian Afro-pop sensation, Wiyaala, recently voiced her concerns about the annual Vodafone Ghana Music Awards (VGMAs) organized by Charterhouse, stating that the prestigious event primarily recognizes and promotes musicians based in Accra, the capital city.
The talented singer-songwriter expressed her frustrations during an appearance on The North Podcast with Prince Hamdan Banang, shedding light on the biases within the award selection process.
Wiyaala, 36, revealed that she has decided to cease submitting nominations for the VGMAs due to the established criteria for selecting nominees, which she believes disqualify her from being considered. One of the key criteria is the requirement of massive airplay on radio stations in Accra. Unfortunately, this criterion proves unattainable for Wiyaala, as her music is predominantly sung in her native language Sissala and Waala dialects, along with English. This language choice creates a barrier to achieving widespread popularity in Accra.
“In my heart, I believe VGMA is trying to get all of us involved. But let’s not tickle and make a fool of ourselves,” expressed Wiyaala candidly. “It’s very obvious and glaring what VGMA is all about. You have to be in Accra, and your songs have to be popular in Accra. There are songs that were never popular in the North, but they made it, and the criteria keep changing. It’s their rules and regulations. If you cannot follow them, you shouldn’t enter.”
Wiyaala, who resides in her hometown in the Upper West region, emphasized the lack of deliberate efforts to showcase artists from other regions whose songs may not be widely known due to language barriers. This oversight contradicts the VGMA’s proclaimed purpose of honoring musicians from across Ghana, as it heavily concentrates on specific groups in certain regions of the country.
“I can be as popular as any artist in the Northern region, but since the program is Accra-based and most of the radio stations are Accra-based, it’s only natural that they predominantly feature songs from Accra. Most DJs do not comprehend our songs, and many people are unwilling to understand them,” Wiyaala explained.
Despite her concerns, Wiyaala has previously achieved success at the VGMA, having won awards such as Songwriter of the Year and Best Female Vocal Performance. However, she believes that there is still work to be done to ensure fair representation for artists from all regions of Ghana.
As of this report, Charterhouse and the Vodafone Ghana Music Awards have yet to address these concerns raised by Wiyaala. The Ghanaian music industry will be watching closely to see if steps will be taken to promote inclusivity and provide equal opportunities for artists from different regions, irrespective of language barriers.