The New Times (Kigali)

23 January 2013

Rwanda: Salax Awards Organisers Warn Rebel Musicians

Following the alleged mass withdrawals by musicians from the 2012 Salax Awards, Ikirezi Group, the organisers of the annual musical awards, has threatened that any shortlisted artiste who would turn down the nomination would not be considered for future editions.

Out: Tom Close.

"After a number of musicians who were on the nomination list of the 5th Edition of the Salax Awards took to social media sites, such as Facebook, and said they had left the Salax Awards, we, Ikirezi Group Ltd, the organisers, have decided that every musician who wishes to boycott this year's Awards writes an official letter to us to that effect," reads part of the statement.

"Ikirezi Group Ltd also informs all music lovers and well-wishers that, in pursuit of development of music in the country, those musicians who will withdraw their names will be replaced by other artistes and they'll never be nominated in this competition or take part in future events," the statement continues.

When contacted by The New Times, Etienne Kalisa, the Managing Director of Salax Awards, charged that some musicians think that leaving Salax Awards will bring the annual event to a standstill. "I must say that they are mistaken because there are very many musicians doing great work out here," he said.

TALKS TOUGH: Salax Awards MD Kalisa.

Asked whether any of the nominees had officially written to them withdrawing from the competition, Kalisa said, "It's only Tom Close who has officially written to us and, like most of the other musicians who've been on Facebook and other sites, he said it was because of personal reasons."

Kalisa also said that Kitoko Bibarwa, who had earlier pulled out of the Awards, wasn't among the nominees of this year's awards in the first place, while both The Ben and Alpha, who have reportedly shunned the Awards, have not written to the organisers to that effect.

Kalisa also shed light on the questions asked by many music producers and music video directors, who were left out of the nomination.

He said, "Every year we try to upgrade these Awards and that's why we have made the changes you see. We removed the categories of video directors and producers will be more recognised once the song or video they directed won best song or best video. It's the same thing that happens with the Grammys."

While speaking to The New Times, Tom Close concurred with Kalisa, saying, "I wrote a letter to Ikirezi Group and my reasons for pulling out were both professional and personal but I can't reveal them to the media."

Asked whether it was because of his long-running feud with Alex Muyoboke, the two-time Salax Awards winner laughed it off. "Muyoboke (Tom Close's former manager and confidant) derives satisfaction from talking ill and sabotaging my projects but that's all. He can't influence my decisions."

Before the nominations, Muyoboke released his own shortlist of top local artistes for 2012, and didn't include Tom Close, prompting speculation he was attempting to de-campaign Tom Close among the journalists and DJs, who were supposed to nominate musicians who appear on the current nomination list of the Salax Awards.

Asked whether he would like to part in the Awards in the future since the organisers threatened to exclude the nominees who will withdraw from this year's Awards in future contests, he said, "I have no problem with the organisers because I explained my reasons in my letter.

"If they accept, I'll be glad to work with them again; right now I have other issues that I'm attending to."

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