Jazz: Awards Show’s File 13

12th Metro FM Awards logo
No jazz in the jazz category at the 12th annual Metro FM Music Awards

It is time for the Metro FM music awards, and once again, there is a “contemporary jazz” category, and not a jazz artist to be found. I understand the need for categorising music, because without categories or genres, many incredible artists would go without any acknowledgement. Awards would then be decided purely by number: radio play figures, sales figures, concert attendance/sales figures and the like. Awards meant to reward creativity and musical talent would then more accurately reward the marketing & publicity teams behind the artists concerned. This, sadly, is generally the case with most modern day awards shows.

Having awards for different categories and genres allows us to acknowledge and award artists whose music doesn’t fall into the most heavily supported genres of pop and gospel amongst others. I understand the need for this. If we have to categorise music, how do we go about it? It seems that awards shows, like the Metro FM Music Awards have categories for African Pop, Hip Hop, Kwaito, Dance, R&B and Gospel, also need a catch-all category for all the artists they’d like to recognise but don’t fit into one of these categories. They have a such a catch-all category, and rather than call it “Other” or “File 13” – they call it “Jazz” or in the case of the Metro FM Music Awards: Contemporary Jazz.

The nominees for best contemporary jazz album are :
Berita: Conquering Spirit
Lulu Dikana: This is the life
Maleh: Step Child
Mbuso Khoza: Zilindile
Ndoh Dlamini: Sekusile

I’m not criticising the quality of the music or artists in this category, I am just concerned that this habit the South African broadcast media has of abusing the word Jazz to describe pretty much anything that is either instrumental in nature or doesn’t have an electronic backing beat, is diluting interest in jazz as a true stand-alone genre. To Metro FM, if your station doesn’t playlist jazz, why include the category in your station’s music awards? If you need a catch-all category find another name for it.

Etienne Shardlow

Etienne Shardlow

Etienne is a proud lover of South African jazz, and host of the weekly JazzE Radio Show on Bakgat Radio. He works as an IT Service Management consultant and trainer.
Etienne Shardlow

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