On: SAMA22

On: SAMA22

“They may be gone but they will never be forgotten.” This line, without fail, makes it into the script of every music awards ceremony. It’s during the In Memoriam section of the show that a moment of silence takes place as images are screened of musicians who have passed on in the last year.

But as soon as the screen fades to black, like the spotlight on the late greats’ lives, the audience both at home and in the ceremony venue quickly forget those who are gone. In the very next moment, we are laughing again, singing along to whoever is on stage, clutching our pearls at a Twitter picture of someone’s wardrobe malfunction on the red carpet. Whatever.

I was reminded of the weight of the In Memoriam portion of a night that celebrates excellence during the 22nd South African Music Awards (Samas) over the weekend. I had good seats too, this year. So naturally, I was watching and listening more attentively than the years when I’d been in an auditorium but was still watching a screen. Or when I was at home watching the small screen and the even smaller cellphone screen.

Big Nuz was close by. As was Arthur Mafokate and other famous faces. So I was surprised when an older couple I didn’t recognise came to sit next to me. They seemed excited to be there. We watched the non-broadcast event for a spell until eventually the gentleman could no longer hold it in.

“When is the Record of the Year award going to be announced?” he leaned in to ask me, almost embarrassed. I explained that it would be broadcast so we’d only know the winner much later (Emtee’s Roll Up scooped it). Curious, I asked who he was rooting for.

Then he smiled, pointed at his wife and himself, and proudly said: “Our son, Four7.”

You may know the deliciously breezy J’Adore song featuring the sweet-sounding Tiffany, which became a radio smash hit. The producer behind it, Four7, was a 19-year-old DJ named Neelan Munnick. He passed away in a car accident in December.

His parents had come all the way from Port Elizabeth hoping to accept the Amstel Record of the Year for Four7’s J’Adore on his behalf. And I got to thinking: we have no idea how many people are actually touched more profoundly by an artist than most of us watching an awards show.

When we say artists – who really give so much and sew the seams of the cultural and social fabric of our country – will never be forgotten, is it just something polite to say during a broadcast? It’s sad that icons like Nana Coyote and Bhekumuzi Luthuli were honoured posthumously this year but there can only be so many special awards each year.

Mahalia Buchanan belted out a tune in tribute and was joined by Dumi Mkokstad during the In Memoriam section. Where else in the programme do gospel artists in any awards show get to sing?

And then Nakhane Toure and Moneoa performed a beautiful duet of Lebo Mathosa’s I Love Music to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the passing of the original Drama Queen. And can they sing! Artists like Mathosa laid the blueprint for some of what you see and hear in our artists and with that in mind, maybe we, as music lovers, shouldn’t wait until their beautiful faces flash In Memoriam to honour them.

We need to give them flowers while they can still smell them. Sure, it’s more fun to analyse red carpet outfits, whine about why our favourite artists lost to another and turn up to the (good) mash-ups on stage. But maybe, in addition to that, we need to spare more than a thought for artists who are no longer around to join us in doing those things.


You may also like this

Leave us a comment