Columns

Protoje or Etana should have won Reggae Grammy…if Shaggy didn't

Donovan
Watkis

Thursday, February 14, 2019

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The 2019 Grammy Awards are gone and Etana was the first female to be nominated in the Best Reggae Album category in over two decades.

Congratulations to Shaggy for being the winner with his collaborative effort with Sting — 44/876.

Additionally, all the nominees should be congratulated for their efforts. Certainly, the competition was at an all-time high this year with albums:

As The World Turns — Black Uhuru

Reggae Forever — Etana

Rebellion Rises — Ziggy Marley

A Matter Of Time — Protoje

44/876 — Sting & Shaggy

Black Uhuru was the first group to win a Grammy for Best Reggae Album for their Anthem output in 1985, and Shaggy has won one Grammy before in 1996 for his breakout album Boombastic.

Reggae outrider, Sting, has been nominated for 46 Grammy awards and has won 17 Gramophone trophies, including his most recent with Shaggy. The strategic collaborative album between the two had them on tour for almost a year and doing appearances on international television stations. Shaggy is consistently working hard and breaking barriers, so all his accolades are well deserved.

Ziggy Marley has won best album in the Reggae category several times — 1989, 1990, 1998, 2007, 2014, 2015, and 2017. The Marleys together as a musical family have won the most Reggae Grammy awards — rightfully so, because they are the most organised company and family of artistes with an international network in reggae music, and the Grammys are about organisation. Their reggae brands have full marketing, branding and management teams working to build multiple ventures around the world daily.

Ziggy Marley, to many, seemed like the most notable player. However, pushing the culture forward means recognising new artistes.

Protoje and Etana were both first-time nominees and both equally represent a new era for reggae music. Reggae does not have the luxury of a singles category at the Grammy Awards like other genres. Etana's victory would have been a signal of hope for other up-and-coming female reggae singers.

Additionally, the voting members of the recording academy are yet to acknowledge with a win the younger generation of reggae singers like Jah 9, No-Maddz, Tarrus Riley, or Jesse Royal, who have all made exceptional reggae albums over the last decade. Honouring Protoje with a reggae Grammy would be honouring the future and present pulse of reggae music in its most authentic form.

Strategy will beat talent every time. Those principles on how to organise, structure and execute strategic partnerships for your music that Shaggy and the Marleys have used can be adopted by other artistes if they wish to bring home a Grammy Award.

Donovan Watkis is a commentator on global music trends. Send comments to the Observer or @jrwatkis.


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