Internationally acclaimed Reggae musician and Grammy award nominee, Rocky Dawuni, has stated that the reason Ghanaian artistes are not breaking international music boundaries like the Grammys is as a result of the lack of an organized music industry in the country to push Ghanaian music and artistes to such heights.
The ‘In Ghana’ superstar said this on the back of scathing criticisms levelled against Ghanaian musicians by a section of the public on social media for not being able to win any Grammy awards.
Speaking in an interview with Crystal Kwame-Aryee on Simply Showbiz on TV3 on Saturday, March 20, Rocky Dawuni said: “I wouldn’t say what we are doing wrong, rather what we are not doing right. I think that with every type of industry, you need to create some level of critical mass within your own environment, and when you create that critical mass of music and culture, that critical mass then becomes a force behind certain individuals who excel and then those individuals are able to challenge boundaries, overcome those boundaries and set certain precedents and when you’re able to do that, then you have a whole movement”.
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“The thing about our industry is that there’s never been what we call an organized industry, I wouldn’t say there hasn’t been an industry because then I would be mistaken, but an organized industry. Organized industry where we have the right institutions like powerful management companies, powerful record labels, a system that gives transparency to music that is been played on radio, on TV and all of that, a collection system that many artistes can be able to know that: okay this is how much their music is playing and they can be able to say: okay let me check how my music is doing, like a centralized system that funnels music collection, publishing, royalties and all of that”.
“So all those systems help each other and then added to that too, we don’t have a system where when it comes to Ghanaian artistes, we support Ghanaian artistes, we support what Highlife music, Hiplife, and certain music has gotten their roots here and have been supported heavily but we have not opened it up for people who try to use these same influences to break new grounds by challenging international boundaries, we do some of it but most of it we don’t jump behind it because once somebody breaks that boundary we kind of push them aside and say: okay these are not doing authentic Ghanaian music, even Osibisa had to be popular outside before they blew back here” Rocky stated.
“And even in my situation, and I don’t like to say my situation, it looks like I’m saying it to self-serve but in my struggle, there was some support but there was never the overwhelming support that was needed till I was nominated, then when I was nominated, there was some support but it could have been bigger, it was an opportunity for us to take advantage, of finally since independence our music breaking that threshold of recording academy recognition and knowing that this is an opportunity for all of Ghanaian industry to jump on this and then utilize this opportunity to now push our music in a way that we become a movement and go there” he pointed out.
He further stressed that our Nigerian counterparts have had a more established and organized music industry than ours a long time ago since the days of Fela Kuti and Sonnie Ade with an international presence that has been kept up by an organized industry.
The Reggae legend also admonished Ghanaians to be there for each other and support their own without the parochial bigotry that was wont with the past industry.