Co-chair of the reggae committee for the JUNO Awards, Carrie Mullings, says she understands the indifferent reaction to Tome winning the Reggae Recording of The Year award this year.
I Pray, her song with Sean Kingston, was selected on June 4th over four rivals. Critics say the song, nor the Montreal-born Tome, represent reggae. “To be honest, I am not surprised at the reactions to Tome’s win. I am happy for her to receive a win for her work and I celebrate that she is a Canadian-born artist, but I have to say considering that as a creative who self-identifies as an Afro-fusion artist it was a loss for our culture,” said Mullings. “Over the years, the winners in this category wave the reggae flag proudly and have a history in reggae and represent the genre. This was not the case this year.”
For the 2022 JUNO, Mullings would love to see a separate category for music with reggae influence. She also wants changes to the Reggae Recording of The Year bracket. “Moving forward, I feel that the Reggae Recording Of The Year category should cater to EP/Album submissions only and a new category representing the many genres of our Caribbean, African, Canadian community submit their soca, calypso, Afrobeats, zouk, compa and mixed genre music to,” she said. “This will welcome the sounds being left out because they do not have album compositions to be able to submit where they are currently being advised they belong. This will then be an easier process for all. The past conversations have always highlighted the fact that a single song submission could win a JUNO over an album which ultimately is unfair to the many artists who spend long, hard hours creating album works.”
Tome was born to Nigerian parents and has made a name in Montreal with songs that have a strong Afrobeats flavor. That sound is the rage in Nigeria, her parent’s homeland. Following her JUNO win, there was criticism in some quarters including from fellow nominee Kirk Diamond. He pointed out that I Pray is not reggae and should have been placed in another category.
Diamond’s Let it be Done, Give it All by Ammoye, Black Man from Blessed, and Roots Rock by Dubmatix featuring Micah Shemaiah, Lasai and Big Sugar, were the other nominees for Reggae Recording of The Year.