The Vodafone Ghana Music Awards took place last night in Accra’s International Conference Center. In prior years I’ve simply read social media updates on the event – many of which towed the lines of “a waste of money and time” – and never actually watched the event myself. You can imagine how excited I was to find out that the event was being live streamed via Vodafone’s Facebook page by GTV and GhOne.

The highlight for me was the fact that real talent and good conscientious (positive, inspirational) music was rewarded. For me, music is poetry in motion and so I really am a sucker for great lyrics that inspire. Here, I’m talking about Efya, Manifest, EL, Chase and R2Bees.

Efya is simply phenomenal. Her voice is something else and her music pushes the edge (check out her cover of Duncan Mighty’s “Obianuju”). That aside, she’s really developing her brand as an afro/soul singer and I’m willing to place bets that she will do great on the international scene. She already is if comments from her concerts in Kenya and Uganda are any indication. Taking all this into consideration, it’s no surprise she won Best Female Vocalist and undoubtedly many people – myself included – are eagerly awaiting her official debut album “Love Genesis” due for release this year. Check out “Life” below, a track off the upcoming album.

Manifest won two awards last night – Best Rapper and Best Hip Hop video for his song “Makaa Maka”. What I love about Manifest’s music is that he keeps it real. He doesn’t try to embellish things. He shoots his videos in the street, showing what GH livin’ is really about. What’s more he always shows love to his neighborhood Madina. That aside, his story is inspirational – another person who decided to leave the West and return home to make an impact. Additionally, I think he really has his brand down and always reps GH hard – like in this collabo with Efya – language, clothing and setting-wise. A well-deserved win for a guy who’s put in the work and then some! Makaa Maka”!

EL is Something Else. Literally. That guy is all sorts of dope and creativity. The very first video/song of his I came across was “Turn the lights down low” and I remember remarking to a friend that he was “different”. It’s interesting to note that he’s been working behind the scenes in music production for a long while and is associated with some real talents in Ghana’s music industry. His debut album “Something ELse” won “Best Album of the Year”, and who could deny him that award anyway? Since coming on the scene it’s been hit after hit after hit. From “Check my Swagga” featuring the hilarious TT of TaxiDriver fame to Chinese Azonto in “Kaalu” and his recent ballad “Auntie Martha”. And how can we forget how he reps Ghana with hits like One Ghana (for your pocket) and Hallelujah, his most recent collabo with Manifest which incorporates Northern GH culture (see below)!

Chase won “Best Music Video” of the year for “Lonely“, a well-deserved win since he’s been doing this love thing with music for quite a while! He was my classmate at Alsyd Academy and I remember one Christmas party in Class 6 I think when he actually challenged Reggie Rockstone to a rap contest, and did a pretty swell job! Chase is definitely someone to keep an eye on. He’s a great crooner and the fact that he writes most of his songs is icing on the cake. From “Lonely” to the artistically done “Tell Me Your Name” and my current favorite “Fire” (below), Chase is one ball of motivation, to say the least. Then again, “Who God bless, no one curse.”

Not to rat(ata) on them, but R2Bees got something huge going on! And rightly so – they won SIX awards last night, the most awards during the 2013 VGMAs (as I predicted ;) ) including “Best Artiste of the Year”. The group has not only refused to be broke, but has shown a strong intention to inspire others to join their movement as well and to follow their dreams. I need not say more about R2Bees, all you gotta do is check out their mega hit – and the GH song I listen to on repeat for motivation – “Walaahi” (Life). GH rep-wise: they sing in Hausa, and as they rightly said: “When you dream, dream big like the Big Six!”

Considering I have nothing to compare this year’s show to, I’ll just stick to specifics. Overall, I think the MCs KOD and Eazzy did a good job with hosting the show. They complemented each other and had good chemistry. While I knew most of the nominees in the various categories there were a couple I’d never heard of like Best Gospel winner Herty and Knii Lante. I also hadn’t realized that Wutah had broken up and that Afriyie was now solo. The ‘Blast from the Past’ segment featuring songs like “Odo esisi me” and “Akataasia, me se ma fa wo la la la” took me back to my days at Wesley Girls, and Nat Brew’s Wogbe made me a tad homesick. Sarkodie showed there’s power in words and Kaakie obviously turned the GH music industry up since she won best Reggae Dancehall! And how can we forget our own FuseODG who’s done more than his fair share of putting Azonto on the international scene! (see below)

All in all, these folks and the other VGMA awardees work hard and help promote Ghana’s creative industries. Cudos to the awardees (full list here) and here’s to more positive GH music. Next year, I’m looking to see the likes of Becca, Paapa, Adina, Sena Dagadu, Cwesi Oteng and Wiyaala (below) pick up some awards. Until then, keep up the great work and stay creative & conscientious!