JUDGES of the Ultimate Music Awards (UMAs) have expressed satisfaction with the quantity and quality of entries for this year's competition.
The panel consists of entertainment reporters and presenters drawn from different media houses such as Radio Lesotho, People's Choice FM, 357 FM, Bokamoso FM, Lesotho Times, Informative and The Lesotho Entertainment Portal.
The seven-member panel said the number of entries had increased in each category and there were also improvements in terms of the quality of the music submitted.
"Last year's entries were so disappointing in that there were very few submissions and we were not satisfied with the quality and creativity," Bokang Bane said on behalf of the judges.
"For instance, we had three submissions in Famo and we could not eliminate any to allow competition. We had come to a point where we had decided to scrap the category this year but then they surprised us as we received 21 entries. We were tasked to select the best eight finalists but then due to the quality and competency of the artists we asked that we increase the number to 10.
"All in all, we were very pleased and it was not easy to come up with the finalists in each category due to the improvement. We believe this shows growth and improvement in our local music and the fact that they have seen the importance of these awards."
The UMAs were introduced in 2014 with the aim of rewarding outstanding performances and motivating other artistes to work harder.
This year's edition opened for entries in May and closed on 31 August. The categories include Hip Hop, Kwaito, Famo, Gospel, Urban Contemporary, Afro Pop, Music Video and Dance.
The judges whittled down the number of entries to eight in each of the eight categories except for Famo and Hip Hop where 10 finalists were selected due to the stiff competition.
There are also special categories where judges nominated eight finalists in each category. These are Best Newcomer, Best Male, Best Female, Best Producer, International Breakthrough and Song of the Year which has 15 nominations.
However, the judges also revealed that they encountered some challenges with unreadable discs and those that were not labelled.
"Some of the artistes may have waited for the last day to submit and did so in haste, forgetting to follow instructions of proper presentation of work including the clear labelling of the discs and indicating which song is competing.
"Only music released from July 2016 to 31 August 2017 qualified but some were disqualified for submitting music released earlier than this. There were also some inaudible discs which were also disqualified but these problems affected just a minor portion of the entries."
The awards ceremony will take place on 18 November at Manthabiseng Convention Centre. The voting lines will open next week. The finalists in each category will be chopped down to top three in the last week of October.