Album call rescues Reggae Grammy
published: Friday | October 3, 2003

By Tyrone Reid, Staff Reporter

Roger Steffens, chairman of the Reggae Grammy committee.

THE REGGAE Grammy died last night. Cause of death - negligence. That could have been the headline if the record companies that handle reggae did not pull up their socks.

Earlier this year, the powers that be issued a warning that the category was suffering from a lack of submissions, a condition which, if not attended to, would have resulted in its death. Luckily, prompt responses from the various labels cured the ailment and ensured that a miniature golden gramophone will be awarded to the winner of the Best Reggae Album category next year.

Roger Steffens, chairman of the Reggae Grammy committee since 1985, bore the news that will put a smile on the faces of the advocates of the category ­ and a frown on the faces of its opponents. He told The Gleaner that the crucial assessment meeting was held on Tuesday in Hollywood.

"The good news is that the Reggae Grammy has been saved. There will be a Reggae Grammy awarded next year," he said, sounding rather pleased. Steffens was not only satisfied that the Reggae Grammy category had come off life support, but the manner in which it had happened. He said: "We had a multitude of entries in the category, so people heard the plea for help and they responded well."

Steffens said he is not allowed to say exactly how many albums were submitted, but that it was more than two times the minimum requirement of 25. Up to July of this year, only 17 had been put up. This threatened to be the straw to cripple the category, as the downward trend had been running for two years. It had seemed to be only a matter of time till the bell tolled.

Steffens said one of the major reasons for the decline was labels were submitting only albums they thought to be potential winners, unlike before when they would put up any and everything. Steffens said that if the emergency call had not gone out the Reggae Grammy would have been fed to the dogs and the battle to retrieve it would not have been easy.

All is well now, but the close scrape should not be forgotten, so it must be ensured that there is no recurrence. Steffens believes that constant reminders of the possible consequences of no or late submissions will help.

"Well, we have to keep spreading the word next year that the time for nominations is near and that we don't want to let the side down. Either we keep it or we lose it. And I think we have had a warning and now we have to keep the category not only running, but we have to keep it strong," he said.