Thursday, February 24, 2011

WAMMIES - the Same Old S**t

Arguably the premiere jazz vocalist in the Washington DC area, Sharon Clark was not even nominated in the Jazz Vocalist category for the 2010 WAMMIES.
I have been increasingly disenchanted with the WAMMIES, which are supposed to recognize the best in the Washington DC area music scene.  This year's awards are no exceptions.  Steve Kiviat, who like me has found these awards flawed presented his usual take on the Wammies in his Washington City Paper blog.

Steve observes that “With the long-troubled Wammies, the artists who do not win or even get nominated are as important as those who do. WAMA leaders have said they sometimes consult "experts" to fill out the nominations slots, and in recent years they have, indeed, reached out to Washington City Paper writers (including me). But they've then largely ignored those suggestions.”

To illustrate Steve’s point I note that neither Bobby Parker (for blues) nor Sharon Clark (for Jazz vocalists) were even nominated. I could easily provide other names Steve also mentions categories of music and musicians that are ignored by the Wammie nomination process. Steve observes “While those artists have received media and public attention here and elsewhere, the dues-paying, voting members of WAMA are apparently not interested or aware of them.”

I might suggest that some of the nominations and results reflects folks voting for friends as opposed to having familiarity with a category of music and voting for folks who might deserve their vote. WAMA members solicit nominations and votes from other members and the results reflect that. It might be suggested that WAMA consider changing voting procedures so folks actually know something about categories that they vote in and the nominees in that category. Maybe limit categories any one person can vote in.

I also share Steve’s observation that the WAMA Board has again passed on honoring some of the old school soul and blues legends while giving themselves an old boys club, self-congratulatory special citation. Maybe someone from WAMA can explain, why none of these following are in the WAMA Hall of Fame: Bobby Parker, Sonny Warner, Lloyd Price, Bill Boskent, Ronnie Wells, and Little Royal are not in the WAMA Hall of Fame. Francis Scott Key, who is not from DC, is.

I really wish I could actually say something positive about the Wammies and WAMA but they make it really difficult to. Maybe when those running WAMA realize that Evans Grille in Forestville was at least as important as the Alexandria Roller Rink, you will show you get it and make yourself relevant to a portion of the great Washington area who view you as any but relevant.

Since I wrote the above, I realize I omitted Will Marion Cook from the list of folks who WAMA has yet to properly honor.  Do yourselves a favor and do a Wikipedia search on this amazing person.

1 comment:

Gene said...


I applaud both your opinion and your courage for this spot-on assessment of the Old Boys/Girls club which is WAMA.

They're only relevant to WAMA leadership and the artists who are endlessly recycled through the awards process year after year after year.