By Marcfarlane Mbewe
Eleven entertainers are to be recognised in this year’s Urban Music People (UMP) Awards which will be held virtually on December 19, following a selection of popular categories through a public vote, organisers have announced.
Forced by Covid-19 to undercut many areas, Ndefeyo Entertainment, executive producers of the event, say nominations will open soon for members of the public to decide their Song of the Year, Music Video of the Year, Album of the Year, Artist of the Year (Female), Artist of the Year (Male), Best Gospel Act, Best New Artist (Female), Best New Artist (Male), Producer of the Year and Best Duo/Group of 2020. The award show will also recognise a figure that has, over the years, undertaken exceptional work towards the advancement of urban culture in Malawi.
The reduction in categories comes as Corona virus has largely paralysed almost every sector of the country’s economy with entertainment experiencing a downturn as a result of the ban on large public gatherings imposed by the authorities.
This, however, has not deterred most urban artists from putting out new material as online record sales and virtual concerts have handed others a temporary relief away the common means of CD sales and live gigs.
A section of people that follow local urban trends believe that considering the pandemic and many other economic factors, this year’s UMPAs will be held under the toughest of times in recent memory on the part of organisers.
Many others will appreciate the fact that the organisers have decided to host this year’s events at a time when they could have channelled their resources elsewhere.
Better yet, a number of entertainers have through diversification and product development, faced the pandemic head on and what remains for them is recognition and appreciation by the general public come Saturday, 19 December when Ndefeyo announces winners.
Just like it was in the 2019 edition, new acts in the Christian entertainment are very much likely to draw positive lessons from singer Shammah Vocals who, like a few others before him, won a UMPA in his first year of going pro.
Going by most comments that categories list continues to attract on social media it is quite clear and evident that there’s a renewed sense of excitement in the urban music circle despite a few others questioning the rationale of either including or scrapping specific categories.
But then again, Malawi and the rest of Africa will look back at the level of resilience shown by players in the industry at a time of great challenges posed by Covid-19.