2010 MTN SAMA nominee JR performs at the 16th SAMA awards held at Sun City, North West. Picture: Paballo Thekiso

The 20th South African Music Awards are this year without an official sponsor. MTN, who had given them many millions over the past 10 years, pulled out most ungraciously by announcing the news to a gutter rag and not even bothering to send out an official press release.

This was made even worse by the fact that the cellphone giant had done such a good brand association with the Samas that when the public thought Samas they immediately thought yellow. Heck, even the red carpet was turned into a yellow carpet.

However, the Samas have soldiered on mostly due to the fact that they are so important to South African musicians across the board. From gospel to Afrikaans pop to alternative rock and kwaito, all South African musicians would like to win a Sama.

Here’s hoping that another corporate will see the value of coming on board as a sponsor. This is the biggest entertainment event on the calendar due to the media frenzy that accompanies it.

This includes a live broadcast from Sun City which happens on SABC1, Mzansi’s most popular free-to-air television channel.

Every entertainment show from the national broadcaster to DStv is present as are most of the print media from newspapers to magazines. The public broadcaster makes sure that at least one radio station is broadcasting from the event.

SABC3’s Expresso and SABC2’s Morning Live will also be broadcasting from the event.

Another little hiccup was the fact that the event normally happens over two days. However, this year the Sama committee took a gamble which did not pay off. They booked the event on April 27 and 28, thinking that it would be fantastic that they celebrate 20 years of democracy with 20 years of Samas.

They then had to move the event on the 27th to the afternoon of the 28th. Rumour has it that this was due to the fact that many artists were playing ANC rallies and were not available on the day.

So it’s gonna be a busy, busy day for the music industry on April 28.

The 20th annual Samas will be broadcast live that night on SABC1 from 8pm.