South African Music Awards 18: The Bar Is Raised.

Watching the SAMA ceremony on Monday night, I realised the only complaint I really had about the concept is that it might be easier to start branding them after the year they take place in, instead of the amount of ceremonies that have already taken place. That’s about it, I guess.

From the start, I was able to look past the weird Broadway-themed (on the back of a “South African music will never die” monologue) opening number taking place and sat amazed at the standard of staging, lighting and general production that had clearly taken place. A far, and I mean FAR, cry from SAMA 17 which was so dismal that rumours of the organization ceasing seemed completely plausible.

Although, none of our predictions came true, Durban artists represented well on the night: Big Nuz, Lloyd Cele, Thokozani Langa and epic beat-basher Zakwe, all taking home awards.

Jozi rockers Shadowclub took home Best Rock but maybe more importantly looked like they belonged on the stage where they performed “Drugs and Money” while local hero, and probable father of many, Jack Parow, entertained during an amalgamation of co-lab and mash-up with fellow Street Urban nominee, AKA (AKA went on to win the category and Best Male Artist).

Above all else, the greatest moments of the telecast, for me, were the ones where I felt like I was being exposed to music I had never heard before… because I hadn’t.

As a poser musician I have always envied the natural ability that maskandi guitarists seem to display while dominating rythms and riffs that don’t always compute with dominant 4/4 collection of music. Thus, Phuzekhemisi’s performance was an aural delight. Not sure if I should be embarrassed, but during the whole build up to SAMA’s I kept wondering… “who the hell is Mi Casa?”. Judging from audience reactions, I seemed to be the only person that didn’t know them. Well, I’m now a fan. Their vibe seems to do more than just get people dancing, it encourages tolerance and interaction across cultures. Mi Casa’s stage performance on the night was a cut above the others. Their clever use of space and perspective was amazing to watch, you could only applaud the effort they put in for a crowd that clearly already loved them.

The star of the night was newcomer Zahara, who walked away with an Adele amount of awards. By the end of it all, Loliwe was stuck in my head for the next 24 hours. It was also awesome to be reminded of the greatness that is Spikiri (bummed they didn’t win their category).

As kwaito godfather, Arthur, mantra’d in his opening address, “South African music will never die!”. The full list of winners follows, with a Youtube education of Shadowclub.

 

Best Alternative Album: The Dirty Skirts for Lost In The Fall
Best Rock Album: Shadowclub for Guns and Money
Best Street Urban Music Album: AKA for Altar Ego

Best Kwaito Album: Big Nuz for Pound for Pound
Best Dance Album: Mi Casa for Mi Casa Music
Best Pop Album: Lloyd Cele for One
Newcomer of the Year: Zahara for Loliwe
Duo/Group of the Year: Mi Casa for Mi Casa Music
Male Artist of the Year: AKA for Altar Ego
Female Artist of the Year: Zahara for Loliwe

Best Selling Album: Loliwe by Zahara
MTN Best Selling Mobile Music Download: Facebook by DJ Cleo
MTN Record of the Year: Mi Casa for These Streets
Album of the Year: Loliwe by Zahara

Best Adult Contemporary Album: Elvis Blue for Elvis Blue
Best Sokkie Dans Album: Snotkop for Ek Laaik Van Jol
Best Maskandi Album: Thokozani Langa for I-Protection Order
Best Kiddies Album: Wendy Oldfield for Singalong Kidz Volume 2
Best Smooth Urban Music Album: Zahara for Loliwe
Best Contemporary Faith Music Album: The Plain Truth – We Are The Shining Ones
Best Classical and Instrumental Album: CH2 for Ping
Best Collaboration: Zahara featuring Georgy for Incwad’Encane
Best Jazz Album: Jimmy Dludlu for Tonota
Best African Adult Album: Zonke for Ina Ethe
Best Traditional Music Album: Soul Brothers for Amaphutha
Best Traditional Faith Music Album: Solly Mahlangu for Mwamba Mwamba