2017 Boston Music Awards Preview: 5 Nominees Discuss Diversity At This Year’s Ceremony

Thirty years ago, the annual Boston Music Awards started with a heavy emphasis on rock and pop music. Over the years, it has expanded to include artists in other genres. This year, several key categories have also expanded from six nominees to ten (including Artist of the Year, Album of the Year and Song of the Year), resulting in a more racially and culturally diverse pool of musicians up for awards. Before the winners are announced tonight at Boston’s House of Blues, five nominees — all artists of color — share their thoughts on how the Boston Music Awards and its efforts to becoming more inclusive is only beneficial to the city.

Moe Pope (pictured above) 6 nominations as STL GLD including Artist of The Year and Song of The Year

“They had to do it–they had to start diversifying. I feel that everyone wants it and that everyone needs it. It’s frustrating that we even have to talk about stuff like this–especially after the year we just had. So many people had no idea what’s going on and what our perspective is as brown people and how we get treated as artists in the city. I’ve been to a lot of these award shows, thankfully, and to me this is one of the best representations of what the city looks like. I’m pleased and I hope that other people are too. I think that it opens the door for everyone to see what the landscape actually is. More people of color at this year’s Boston Music Awards? I’ll be there. It would have been a tragedy if something didn’t change.”

 

Dutch ReBelle 3 nominations including Hip Hop Artist of The Year and Music Video of The Year (Unsigned Artist)

 “I think it’s long overdue–to expand the pool of the people they’re choosing from. So many people are excited about coming, so many people are excited about performing. I think over the years, having a community where artists stick together and complain about how things are has come full circle. That’s what Boston does–we ruffle feathers and break down barriers. Then more people are invited to more things and it’s dope. They have a responsibility to find new talent. If you’re going to be involved with the Boston Music Awards, you have to represent the scene and what it’s like–you can’t have the same people nominated for the same thing every time.”

 

Fredua Boakye- 3 nominations as Bad Rabbits including Male Vocalist of The Year and R&B Artist of The Year

Honestly, anywhere can stand to be more diverse than it is. I think the Boston Music Awards have done a pretty good job for being more inclusive thus far–they definitely are aware of things. Even though American Nightmare wasn’t an R&B album, we were nominated as R&B Artist of The Year which is kind of misleading. I would have loved to seen Bad Rabbits nominated in the rock category. But being nominated lets me know we’re still relevant. The BMAs are giving artists that are breaking out and generating buzz awards, which is great. Our culture and our music is being respected more, but there’s still more work that needs to be done. If we’re being completely honest, if it wasn’t for Black culture, there wouldn’t be a music scene–period.”

Marcela Cruz2 nominations including R&B Artist of The Year and Music Video of The Year (Unsigned Artist)

 “I feel really blessed to be a nominee again this year, for not one but two categories. I am also really happy to not have only worked with the other nominees, but to also be a fan of their work. Being a Hispanic R&B artist, people judge what my sound should be almost immediately: “Oh, you’re a Spanish artist–do you sing bachata?” That’s the box I get put in from people looking at me or just seeing my name. I love that I can prove them wrong and still be recognized for my work. The expansion of the Boston Music Awards categories this year highlights some diverse badass artists from Boston–which is really important to me–so I’m excited.”

 

Latrell James3 nominations including Live Artist of The Year and Hip Hop Artist of The Year

 “Seeing a lot of familiar names nominated was super important to me. People are finally being acknowledged for their craft–they are just super dope and talented. It was about time that they get vouched for. It’s amazing honestly–especially the representation of hip hop this year. It’s not just one style of hip hop–it’s all forms…which is also covered in who they selected to perform. It’s a step forward–especially for people of color. We are making a huge difference in local music and that wasn’t being reflected in local award shows. This year’s Boston Music Awards seem to have a good grasp of what’s really going on–it represents a shift in the culture.” 

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