By: Dounard Bondo
On the 14th of November 2020, the MTN Liberia Music Awards (MLMA) was held at the Liberian Ministerial complex. This year’s event was captioned “next level”, and it was hosted by Rapper Cypha D’ King and radio presenter Rickslyn Myers.
The MTN Liberia music awards has transformed from being just an award ceremony around music. It is also an event where Liberian pop culture and fashion is exhibited. In usual fashion, celebrities and guests turned out in glitz and glamour for the event.
The red carpet of the MLMA started at 6pm and by 8:58 the ceremony opened with the symphony of the Liberian youth orchestra. It is quite commendable that the MLMA started and ended on time.
The organizers of the MLMA faced an uphill task in organizing an in-person show within a global pandemic which has both health and financial implications. It has to be said that the organizers of the MLMA did an excellent job when similar shows around the world had opted to manage the risk by going virtual. The presenters also did a stellar job, and absent a few technical glitches, the sound and visual quality was very good.
In the opinion of this writer, while there is room for improvement, most of the performances were good. Trille churned out a professional performance, making good use of backup dancers. Paul Harding had synergy with the live band, while CoZ delivered exceptionally. Stunna’s excellent command of his vocals gave the crowd a stunning live performance of his hits. And Kpanto had the most energetic performance of the night, his sheer amount of hits this year ensured he had the crowd singing along to every song.
On the other end of the spectrum, kpanto’s pulling down of his trousers to his knees during his performance of “take off trousers” was unnecessary for the platform and stage that is the MLMA. While Mc Caro started off with a good performance of pull up, she and the band spent over 10 minutes in an undesirable loop where they played and she paced the stage in high energy. She also ran out of breath during her performance and had to ask for water. Jzyno performance left much to be desired, his tribute to Quincy B could have been executed better, he also left the stage midway through his performance while the DJ played his hit song “kpan kpan me”. He appeared halfway in the song to finish his performance.
For this year’s award, votes constituted 40percent while a panel constituted 60percent, this decision by the MLMA was seen by many as controversial. This writer believes that certain categories should not be based entirely on voting, as voting can sometimes be purely a popularity contest that is not reflective of the work individuals put in. In such cases, a board of professionals would solely or greatly influence who is proclaimed winner. However, this writer believes that categories that would fall under such rules should only be the one which require certain technical “know-how” that the board possess, an example of such category is the “video director of the year”.
An award that called into question the competency of the board was the Award for artiste of the year which was given to Eric Geso, who also took home the award for Gbema artiste of the year. While Eric Geso had missed out on awards that he deserved in previous years, it is worthy to note that this year’s award was based on a time frame. Eric Geso had no albums and one major hit song in the year in review with “Oh Wow”.
Eric Geso won up against Kpanto who has the highest volume of hits in the year in review, Kpanto was also male artiste of the year and Trapco/Hipco artiste of the year. Also in the category was Mc Caro who had more hits than Eric Geso and was the female artiste of the year. It leaves the question on what standards the board voted Eric Geso as Artiste of the year.
In conclusion, the organizers, promoters and presenters did an excellent job in the execution of the MTN Liberia music awards (MLMA) and they have set a standard on how shows in Liberia are to be organized. However, this writer hopes that constant hecklers are shown the door in the next edition of the MLMA.