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Award ceremonies changing showbiz

 Mejja and Brian Amulyoto during the Pulse Music Video Awards (PMVA). [David Gichuru, Standard]

The music scene is getting its groove back after a period of absence of vibrant music awards. For some time now, only the Pulse Music Video Awards kept the musical rhythm going.

Although some of the award ceremonies happening are not entirely musically related, others are still in the pipeline.

The Oscars Selection Committee Kenya closed submission entries for Kenyan filmmakers' films for Oscars consideration for the 96th Academy Awards on Wednesday this week.

The awards ceremony take place at Dolby Theatre, Los Angeles, US, in March, next year.

The process of selection is being spearheaded by the Kenya Film Commission, the home of Kalasha Film and TV Awards, which is officially recognised by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences to set up an Oscars selection committee on behalf of the Kenyan filmmakers.

The entry categories open for Kenyan films include the Best International Feature Film, Best Documentary and Best Animation Feature Awards.

The call closes as Kenyan musicians, excited about the inclusion of 'Genge' in the Grammy list make their submissions.

Nonini is one of the artistes who have made their entries for a possible first major Kenyan impact during the awards taking place at the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles in February, next year.

"It is a significant move that our music can be recognised on such a platform, the most prestigious music awards in the world. This stage gives artistes leverage and recognition for their art. It adds to their bargaining and negotiating power. Awards are key in building the music industry. They remind us that our creativity counts," said Nonini.

 Nonini [Facebook]

The closest Kenyan artistes have come to the Grammys, an event where Nigerian musicians have been shining, is through shadow support such as Etana's nomination in the Best Reggae Album category thanks to her Pamoja album where Wyre and Naiboi had featured.

It has been a long road for Kenyans to the Oscars and since Lupita Nyong'o won the Best Actress in a Supporting Role category for 12 Years a Slave in 2013, the urge for another big Kenya break in the Oscars has been a consistent, but sweaty affair.

The two awards are the epitome of the international music and film awards and the dream of most of those who operate in that space is usually getting a nomination, let alone winning.

Then there is the Miss World pageant, the oldest pageant in the world, whose ceremony will be held in India in December. The event has a strong Kenyan representation thanks to the reigning crown holder, Chantou Kwamboka.

Closer home, in the last decade, music awards and the celebration of beauty pageantry have seemed to fizzle and now seem to be picking up again with a fresh introduction of recognition schemes for creatives.

The death of the Kisima Music Awards, the exit of Channel O Music Video Awards and the downgrading of the Pearl of Africa Music Awards significantly affected the musical scene in East Africa.

With the competitiveness these awards brought, the industry looked forward to each year with producers, stables and individual artistes going the extra mile to record music that could be appreciated across the globe.

The awards were an exchange ground where nominees could network for collaborations and also get noticed by scouting international music stables.

Then, the music scene in Kenya was vibrant with the entire Western and Eastern block of Africa looking up to Nairobi as Africa's showbiz city.

The climax of this Kenyan might come with the MTV Africa Music Awards (also known as Mamas) first held in Abuja, Nigeria (2008), then in Nairobi, Kenya (2009) before returning to Nigeria in Lagos in 2010.

Nameless, Wahu and Amani won in these editions, keeping the Kenyan flag flying high just as had done Wyre, Nazizi and DNG among others in consequent Channel O Music Video Awards held in South Africa.

"The days of MTV Mamas were key for the growth of the industry. The awards brought recognition to the industry. They were an inspiration and encouragement to both the established and up-coming stars. Winning an award is always a good gesture that you are being appreciated and that your music is making an impact somewhere," said Amani in a recent interview with Standard Entertainment.

In Kenya, the only music award that has held strong is the Pulse Music Video Awards (PMVA), which is in its ninth year now.

The awards, an offshoot of Pulse Magazine, the pioneer weekly showbiz newspaper magazine pullout in East Africa now turning 20 come December, has been the driving force in the Kenyan music scene, recognising and awarding music video talents year after year.

It was, therefore, interesting to see the entry of Trace Awards and Festival, a global celebration of Afro and Afro-inspired music and talent whose inaugural ceremony will take place at the BK Arena, Kigali, next month.

Kenyan nominees Nadia Mukami and Janet Otieno recently got unveiled in a glitz red-carpet ceremony held in Nairobi.

"I thank God for the far He has brought me. The journey has not been easy and alongside my fellow nominee, the very talented Nadia, I am sure our Kenyan industry will shine during the awards," said Janet.

"We are proud to power an event such as the Trace Awards, which not only celebrates, but elevates the music and entertainment industries across Africa, but in the diaspora as well," said Esther Muhoro, Pernod Ricard Head of Marketing East Africa.

Excitement is building among music lovers with Trace having revealed the first performers in the star-studded line-up for the ceremony.

African and Afro-inspired musicians from around the globe are set to perform at the spectacular live event. More than 150 artistes have been nominated for the awards.

The Nairobi Trace Awards nominees' unveil party brought back the memories of awards heydays as musicians, celebrities, creatives, influencers, business leaders and tastemakers turned out to celebrate the Kenyan flag bearers.

Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Youth Affairs, Arts and Sports, Ababu Namwamba, said the time for African music on the world stage had arrived.

 Youth Affairs and Sports CS Ababu Namwamba. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

"This award will bring together the African continent and diaspora in a celebration of our music and entertainment cultures," said Danny Mucira, MD Trace Eastern Africa.

He said the nominations speak to the hard work and resilience of the Kenyan industry players in seeking out and maintaining excellence.

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