Recording Industry of SA head Nhlanhla Sibisi

Cape Town - An increase in popularity of music from Africa, the resurgence of Afro pop and the resilience of indigenous gospel has lead to the SA Music Awards (Samas) creating three new categories.

The Samas, set to take place in April or May next year, have opened entries for their 23rd edition of awards.

Organised by the Recording Industry of South Africa (Risa), the event is billed as “the premier annual music awards event to honour and recognise accomplishments in the South African recording industry”.

In a shake-up to its categories, the Samas have introduced the following: the Best African Indigenous Gospel album (Clap & Tap/Zion Music), Best Africa Artist album and Best Afro Pop album.

This is an indication of the changing trends in what South Africans listen to, such as a growing popularity in Nigerian and Kenyan music from the likes of D’Banj, Burna Boy and Wizkid, and the return of Afro Pop music from Mafikozolo and Musa. This will be the first time music from the rest of Africa is eligible for the Samas.

Artists and record companies are invited to submit their entries from now until January 31, covering music released from last December to January 31 next year. Risa chief executive Nhlanhla Sibisi told Weekend Argus that any “commercially released” music is eligible, including music released on platforms like YouTube.

However, musicians need to provide the organisation with a copy of their CD and pay an entry fee. The music will then be vetted and the nominees will be out by April.

Sibisi said: “Our genre committees have to determine if we cover as many genres as possible. Afro Pop used to be combined into other categories. Now we see it must be a stand- alone.”

The new gospel category, Clap & Tap/Zion Music, exists, he said, because it was a genre that was being recorded and has notable sales. “Gospel has too many sub-genres. It has never had its own category before and it needed it.”

Best Africa Artist album could see a surge of nominees from West Africa, with the growing interest in pop music from the region. To qualify, it has to be music released in South Africa.

The hotly contested awards are Album of the Year and Record of the Year. Album of the year will be assessed by a panel of judges, while Record of the Year is based on a public vote. The list of nominees for Record of the Year is taken from spins across South African radio, provided by radio monitoring services.

By the night of the Samas, the list of nominees is reduced to five and voting closes an hour before the end of the show.

Sibisi said it was too early to tell if the SABC’s 90 percent local music policy had had any effect on listening trends. “The Samas are focused on South African music anyway. We (Risa) will have to look at buying patterns.”

The venue for the Samas is still to be finalised. “We are still in negotiations.

“If we get a commitment from the North West, we will go there. If we get a commitment from Durban, it could go there.”

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Weekend Argus