Fashion, Performances, and Other Historic Moments from the 2021 MLMAs
On Saturday, November 20, 2021, one of the biggest awards to hit the Liberian entertainment scene touched down at the Ministerial Complex, in Congo Town, Liberia. This event, also known as the MLMA, brought together some key stakeholders in the Liberian creative industries, and was highlighted by the incredible fashion, performances, and other historic moments through the night.
Organized for the 4thtime by powerhouse marketing agency, Echo House Liberia Ltd., the 2021 MTN Liberia Music Awards did indeed serve its purpose as an avenue to celebrate the fast-growing Liberian music industry. What Echo House manages to do each time with their social events, is offer a different experience, and this year’s MLMA experience followed suit. Even though there were some missing faces in the audience due to absences from some names in the entertainment industry, it was easily forgotten because of the show-stopping performances and history-making moments from the ceremony.
Monitoring the social media buzz around this year’s MLMA, there were few major things most enthusiasts of the show looked forward to. Some of those were the fashion choices from the attendees, the performances of the hosts, as well as the comeback performance from HipCo artist, Christoph the Change, after the tumultuous year the hit artist had.
In the past 4 years of the event, the fashion choices have been the most discussed part of the experience, and audiences carried on the same trend this year. Although, what made this year a bit different, was the originality on the Red carpet, accentuated by the showcase of more Liberian designers and stylists. This comes as no surprise though, because in the past year, more Liberian celebrities have taken to home-grown stylists, designers, and tailors to upgrade their wardrobes.
This shift in styling decisions was magnified by new-comer brands like Young Geh Lappa Suit (YGLS), Big Zor, Bloh Kon Dahlor (BKD), and Curt Van Signatures, who delivered some of the most unique and culturally relevant looks of the night. BKD, for example, not only created the country-cloth masterpieces worn by the two hosts of the show, the brand also donated uniforms to the Liberian Youth Orchestra, who also performed in the ceremony. Likewise, YGLS delivered a 4-person knockout with the custom looks designed and styled by owner, Adrienne Tingba What made the outfits stand out was that they were styled with uniquely striking designs that embodied the cultural theme of the event and presented a glamorous take on indigenous + modern fashion.
In addition to that, Big Zor offered a fresh, edgy, and sexy take on Men’s fashion with his styling of himself, Afropop Artist of the Year winner, Stunna, Best New Artist winner, Natif, and even the Red-Carpet host of the night, Blogger, Alpha Bah. Other brands that stood out includes veteran brands like Monsio Couture, Cam’s Fashion Designs, and Angie H. Couture, who all styled some of the fan-favorite looks of the night.
There were a few incredible performances which stood out at this year’s event. Starting with the show-stopping performance from the Red-Carpet host, Alpha Bah, who set the stage for what the audience were to expect for the night. Following suit, the two hosts, Mollyn Jarbo and Cypha D’King, had the event running so smoothly, that there was always something happening on stage, which kept the audience engaged throughout.
Moving on to the performances from the artists, the show opened with Best New Artist Nominee, Natif, who’s story is forever etched into the memories of fans of Liberian music around the world. Gbema artist, Milton Klechee also delivered a very memorable cultural performance, which included traditional background dancers, and a wardrobe that would make any masked ancestor proud. Along with Klechee, was the dance-worthy performance from Kobazzie, who had the entire audience moving to his hit, Respect Yourself. With performance from Natif, Brownskin, and Candace Cooper, this was the first MLMA where 3 new artists were given an opportunity to perform.
While all the overall performances from artists like JZyno, TeddyRide, Eric Geso, etc. were entertaining at their own levels, the most moving performance of the night was done by Christoph the Change. His emotional comeback story, coupled with his command of the stage brought the entire audience to its feet. This was a very pivotal moment for the artist, given all the trials he has endured in his personal life over the past year. Thankfully, he was able to assure his fans of his strength and managed to deliver an energetic, high-level performance.
Other Historic Moments
Another admirable part of the 2021 MLMA experience, was how the organizers managed to involve different facets of the entertainment industry into the program. The show was opened by the Liberia Youth Orchestra, who delivered a soothing rendition of The Lonestar Forever, among other iconic tunes. Additionally, there was also a performance from a young Ballet dancer who was able to provide a new kind of entertainment to the show, Diamond Turay.
Beyond the performances, the list of presenters also offered a fresh and diverse perspective to the experience. Although, the most historic part of the show was the addition of the lifetime achievement award, which was presented to the legendary, Madam Miatta Fahnbulleh. The awards was presented with a performance from MTN Yello Star finalists, Candace Cooper, Jesslyn, and Brenda. Presenting this award provided an avenue for artists to continue to aspire to greater heights in the industry, even beyond the MLMA and Liberia at large.
At the same time, Skinnyboy Kpanto took home the most awards of the night, with his team even comically, taking a huge “Ghana-must-go” bag on stage each time to accept his awards. Meanwhile, the biggest upset of the night was for the fans of MC Caro, who took home 1 award out of the 6 nominations she had. Stunna, on the other hand, was able to ride the wave of his growing fanbase, taking home the Afropop Artist of the Year award. Brownskin, a newcomer to the music scene, also managed to carry home an award for the night, after delivering a very sensual performance.
Despite talks of some rumored industry politics happening behind the scenes, like some strategic absences and boycotts from some celebrities, the show was able to go on fabulously uninterrupted. Although, bringing politics to such a space has a propensity to undermine the entire efforts of the organizers and the artists, who should rather be celebrated. As such, it is hoped that only growth can continue to result from the MLMA brand, especially in the music, fashion, and overall creative industries.
Otherwise, continue below for a roundup of some of the best looks that took center stage at the 2021 MTN Liberia Music Awards!