By David A. Yates and Robin Dopoe
One of Liberia’s leading telecommunications companies, Lonestar Cell MTN and the Liberia Music Awards Foundation on Thursday, September 19, launched the 2019 MTN Liberia Music Awards.
Speaking at a press conference attended by officials from the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism, as well as local and international music artists, Ms. Dede D’Almeida, head of the Liberia Music Awards Foundation, said the foundation exists to recognize and empower artists who have work tirelessly over the years to hone their craft.
According to Ms. D’Almeida, 2019 marks the sixth year of the award and the second year it is being held in Liberia. She thanked Lonestar Cell MTN for partnering with the Foundation to host the awards in Liberia.
Ms. D’Almeida acknowledged the many challenges that Liberian entertainers encounter on a daily basis in the music industry.
She promised that the Foundation and Lonestar Cell MTN is committed to working to support the industry’s growth.
Ms. D’Almeida pointed out that since the 18th of February 2018, the foundation had registered with the government of Liberia, and they have been engaging artists in communities to support their careers.
She added that mission of the Liberia Music Awards Foundation is to help develop the music industry and give artists a platform to use their music to educate, reconcile, uplift and heal. She reiterated the Foundation’s pledge to facilitate the exposure, promotion, and celebration of the arts.
She stated that the MLMA will give the world the opportunity to learn about the rich heritage of Liberia.
“Since the launch of the MLMA in 2014, we have consistently recognized the talents of Liberians across the globe.” This year’s awards event, scheduled for November 16, 2019, will include a meet-and-greet with the nominees and musicians attending the awards, she said.
The top three categories at the awards are Artist of the Year, Song of the Year and Album of the Year. Speaking at the launch, the president of the Music Union of Liberia, Mr. Sammy Gboguy, expressed delight and special thanks to the organizers and the sponsors, Lonestar Cell MTN, for their support to the music industry.
He called on other companies operating in the country to follow suit.
“The MLMA is a great moment for us to celebrate our own, and to appreciate our superstars and rebrand the industry
He said it was time that various artist forget about what had happen in the past and focus on the future by joining hands to rebrand the music industry, noting that it is not about the individuals but rather the country.
According to him, the awards will unify and elevate the industry.
Meanwhile, the Chief Marketing officer of Lonestar Cell MTN, Yaw Agyapong, said music excites people especially when they are caught up with distress. “When we have the opportunity to partner with the Liberia Music Awards Foundation we thought it wise to welcome the ideas to help our artists.”
He acknowledged Lonestar Cell MTN for sponsoring the awards ceremony and ensuring that it is held in Liberia.
Speaking on behalf of the Information Ministry, a proxy of the Assistant Minister for Culture welcomed the launch of the Liberia Music Awards, and used the occasion to pledge the government’s support to the music industry.
According to the organizers, a contracted auditing firm, Baker Tilly, will ensure transparency in the voting process.
Speaking on behalf of the auditing firm, Mr. Kofi Abedu-Bentsi said his firm was contacted to work in partnership and he vowed to make sure that every single vote cast during the voting process are verified and authenticated.
He said at the conclusion of the voting process 70% of rights will go the general public, while 30% will go to the nominations board.
He said when the process is completed, the auditing firm will be responsible to tally, check and arrange all the votes and make sure its goes to the right nominee.