Gospel awards bring hope in pandemic times
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Covid-19 has not only introduced to us the ‘new normal’ but it has also shown us why some old ways of doing things have now become outdated.
Awards shows are among many other events affected by the global pandemic, but their importance continues to be evident, as they encourage artists in Mzansi to keep doing their much-appreciated stellar work.
Between the tough times and the pressing need to recognise the work done last year, similar to the SAMAs, the Crown Gospel awards ceremony is gearing up to present its 14th annual show, that will once again be confined to a studio pre-recording with a limited guest on-site to observe Covid-19 safety protocols to protect artists and Gospel music fans from the virus.
The ceremony will this year run under theme Hope #ChristOurHopeOfGlory. With the nomination submissions period closing at the end of this month, a total of 29 winning gospel acts from as many categories will be announced on the special night.
To share more with us, awards founder Zanele Mbokazi participated in the Sunday Indy’s Q&A session answering, among others, the question of whether the Crown Gospel Awards are still relevant in our society today.
SI: The 14th instalment of the Crown Gospel Music Awards is no small feat. What does this mean to you as the founder and to the awards?
ZM: I am humbled by the support we have received over the past 14 years.The awards core team – Mr Sipho Kaleni, Ms Rofhiwa Nethengwe and Mr Dumisani Motsamai, are the amazing anchors behind the scenes, an incredible team. The trust and respect the Crowns as a brand have from the Gospel music industry – not just in South Africa but across the continent, is really encouraging. It has been a hard journey. There were many moments that could have pushed others to quit, but grace kept us going. The Crowns are not just a good idea, but indeed, good.
SI: What role do these awards continue to play in the music space?
ZM: The Gospel space is a niche market. Remember, almost every Christian sings some form of worship or Gospel music at church. It is, therefore, imperative to add a business dimension – as it is true that once you record your music for commercial purposes, the transaction becomes business. The awards are therefore encouraging artists to be on their toes, to excel and make sure they give their fans their utmost best. Also – the Crowns keep Gospel artists in line – to always remember to the core of their gift and talent, the main thing i.e. remember this is Gospel music and it is all about Jesus Christ.
SI: Why are the (Crown Gospel Awards) important?
ZM: Besides the fact that Gospel music is food for the soul – and our artists benefit from the Crowns stage (exposure) - the Crowns are a social cohesion and moral regeneration tool. Through the Crown Gospel Music Awards, we have been able to highlight many social ills like the scourge of GBV, social diversity and inclusion, xenophobia awareness. Gospel is the glue that holds our society together. It cuts across class, race, money, education.
SI: What was the awards ceremony's main aim upon inceptions and 14 ceremonies later, has that aim been achieved (upheld)?
ZM: The Crown Gospel Music Awards sought to encourage, salute and applaud Gospel musicians who are working hard on their craft. They also seek to create new markets by exposing Gospel artists to new audiences. Lastly, we wanted to improve excellence in the industry.
Absolutely, we are achieving our goals. From Gospel being a genre that many looked down upon, we are now one of the most loved and best-selling genres. The standard of Gospel music has risen. Look at the DVD productions of Khaya Mthethwa, Benjamin Dube, Dr. Tumi – they are all world-class. Music fans are no longer subjected to videos that had water, fountains, or flowers dating back 15 years ago.
SI: How different will the 14th Crown Gospel Awards be from other (previous) years?
ZM: Covid-19 is real! The Crown Gospel Music Awards will be downscaled to suit the allowed numbers with safety protocols observed. However, the editorial content, as well as the worship/performances, glamour, class, bling, fashion, will remain the same. The Crowns are not just the biggest Gospel awards in the African continent, but they are the benchmark for many in terms of production quality - they set the ’levels’. Over and above the event, This year, we are bringing back a significant award, The Salt Award, bestowed to the trailblazer who has done exceedingly well by playing an influential role in society.
SI: Apart from the awards, what else is mam'Zanele busy with?
ZM: As someone who assumes a number of roles, like speaking at conferences, I will soon be launching my training academy that will help me expand my work.
SI: Anything you would like to add?
ZM: Let's celebrate our music, it's time to celebrate the year’s best performances, to honour our gospel icons, and showcase the heavenly voices and the instrumental individuals who fuel our faith and glorify God.