Push for reggae categories in more US awards

November 29, 2017
Clyde McKenzie
Joan Webley

After the first Grammy Awards were held on May 4, 1959 (according to www.grammy.com), the first reggae award was handed out to Black Uhuru for 'Anthem' in 1985.

Now, seeking more recognition for Jamaican popular music, co-organiser of the Jamaica Music Conference, Joan Webley, is one of those preparing to push for its inclusion in more overseas awards.

Speaking to THE STAR after yesterday's announcement of nominees in the reggae category for the 2018 Grammy Awards, Webley said: "We need to mobilise as an industry. We need to petition the BET Awards to have a reggae category, to lobby the producers of the event to have them recognise it as a separate genre."

She connected the move to Louis Grant from New York, a presenter at the 2017 Jamaica Music Conference held earlier this month.


Precondition for success


The intention is to make a case initially to Entertainment and Culture Minister Olivia 'Babsy' Grange. The BET website says the awards were started in 2001.

As the Grammy Awards are determined by voting members of the US-based Recording Academy, cultural commentator Clyde McKenzie cautioned that "we should note that popularity is not a precondition for success. What we might find popular here (in Jamaica) might not be recognised or even known elsewhere. The qualification for your winning a Grammy is the quality of your work and that is recognised by your peers."

McKenzie said that there was a time when the Grammy Awards were seen as being out of sync with what was happening on the ground, even in especially prized categories like Record of the Year and Album of the Year, which have so far not included Jamaican popular music recordings.

"They have managed to bridge that gap. Whether they have done that with reggae is to be seen," McKenzie said.

The 2018 Grammy Awards ceremony will be held at Madison Square Garden.

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