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DMV Celebrates Local Musicians at 2023 Wammie Awards

The 35th annual Washington Area Music (Wammie) Awards, or Wammies, took place on Saturday, April 1, at Capital Turnaround, presented by The MusicianShip.

Wammie Awards hosts, Allison Seymour and Darren Hayes
2023 Wammie Awards hosts, Allison Seymour and Darren Hayes - Photo by Erica Blake Photography

This year’s Wammies night was a night to bring the DMV music community together to celebrate its achievements: “DC is the beneficiary of world-class music creatives who enrich and inspire millions of people around the world! The Wammie Awards is The MusicianShip’s 35-year-old awards show aimed at recognizing DC, MD, and VA area artists & musicians for their artistic works and community impact across our region.” 

Fifty-one awards were given throughout the night, honoring the area’s music educators, artists, musicians, and more. WUSA 9’s Emmy award-winning anchor Allison Seymour and Darren Hayes hosted the event. Excitement buzzed from the red carpet to the award hall. 

The night was themed “The Hitmakers Ball”, celebrating the DMV region’s rich music legacy and its culture-shaping influence on style, fashion, and community. It began with a pre-event reception with music by DJ 24/7. The awards show with music by DJ D-REX featured a variety of live performances, including performances by the iconic Go-Go band EU fronted by Gregory “Sugar Bear” Elliot, Grammy-nominated MuMu Fresh, The Howard University S.H.O.W.T.I.M.E. Marching Band, Rayshun LaMarr from NBC’s The Voice, Country/Americana duet 3 Exits to Memphis, The MusicianShip’s Washington Youth Choir, Hip-Hop Artist Marc2Ray with Trap-Operatic Soprano Alexandria Chrichlow, guitarist Nessa Dove, posthumous tribute performers Soprano Fairouz Foty & Harpist Megan-Joie Coleman, and Strathmore’s Artist in Residence Dominique Bianco.

There was also a 50th Anniversary of Hip-Hop tribute curated by Beau Young Prince featuring DC Rap Pioneers, Whistle, and contemporary influencers such as Nonchalant, Uptown X.O., Pinky Killacorn, Innanet James, and DC Dancer LOSO, accompanied with music by DJ Reddz. Latin-Rock sensation Perro Sombra, who won Best Music Video for “Perdiendo”, also performed.

Perro Sombra performing at the awards show
Perro Sombra performing 'Perdiendo' at the 2023 Wammie Awards, Photo by Erica Blake Photography

“It’s a true honor to receive this award from such a prestigious organization in our region,” Perro Sombra says. “Especially because this year the Best Video Category was first introduced and our understanding is that it was the most, or one of the most, competitive categories.” They are grateful to receive recognition for all their hard work.

“We put a lot of effort into raising our own standards and pour our heart into our material hoping to surpass expectations, so validation is definitely a good feeling.” They were impressed with the level of organization at the awards show – “When we won our first Wammie in 2021 it was virtual, so we didn’t get to attend. This year when we got to the ceremony, it was impressive to see the production and how well-organized it was. The cherry on top was that we were invited to perform, which made it much more special.”

Perro Sombra feels a strong connection with their fan community in the area. “While we do love being able to reach people in a lot of different places through the internet, etc., we really thrive on connecting with people through our live performances and here in the area is where we get to do that the most …  In events like the Wammies, where the DMV community gets to vote for us, it is super rewarding to see their support. Since our beginnings, we have been lucky to recruit new fans wherever we play, and to continue to grow our following. It’s quite humbling to see the same faces returning to our shows and showing their support when we need them.”

Listen to and watch the video for their newest single, “Algoritmos” (Algorithms)!

This year’s awards broke records – the public submitted more than 1,000 nominees from December 2022 to January 2023 and cast nearly 20,000 votes in over 45 music categories, culminating in 300+ finalists. New award categories like Best Music Video, Best Youth Artist-Group, Music Trailblazer Award, and the Lifetime Achievement Award among other distinguished honors were bestowed for the first time during this exciting evening. I was able to chat with a few more winners about their experiences: 

Ramsey Renée, Best Youth Artist, is a 17-year-old singer/songwriter from Washington who has been singing, writing, and playing piano since age nine. This award “makes me feel like everything I have done so far is 100% definite,” she says. “Having this award secured that this is what I am supposed to be doing … Being there felt humbling. I felt like I was a part of a community and everyone was so supportive; when I look back on the pictures people took and everyone applauding out of genuine love, it just made me feel amazing. I definitely took it in and congratulated myself. The amount of events you can find and how people are so open to working with you, communicating with you, and giving advice, really helps you get yourself out there.”

The DMV is excited to see where her talent takes her. Stream her new EP, Phases, out now on all platforms.

Ramsey Renée on the Wammies red carpet
Ramsey Renée on the Wammies red carpet, Photo by Erica Blake Photography

O-Slice is an independent rapper from Prince George’s County who won Best Hip-Hop Album for Goodmorning, Goodnight. “Winning the award means a lot to me,” she says. “It’s my debut project and so much went into making it, so for it to be loved like this is a really beautiful feeling.” Unfortunately she wasn’t able to attend the Wammie Awards, but she is grateful for her community. “The DMV has helped me tremendously. I’ve always felt supported by my community. When I have shows and events, that’s who shows up. I’ve always wanted to make my area proud and every time I accomplish something it definitely feels like that. Just looking forward to doing that on a global scale.”

Black Rave Culture won Best Electronic/Techno Artist-Group. Hailing from D.C., BRC consists of a trio of DJs and producers – Amal, James Bangura, & Nativesun – that come together to bring you a new sound, the sound of their city, spreading the message of Black Rave. Winning this award “means people are listening in on what we have to say in this new age conversation about electronic music,” the group says. “Unfortunately we couldn’t make the conference because of our tour schedule but winning the award was amazing. Feels like the hard work is paying off even though we’re still just getting started, but it gives us inspiration to finish our next project.” The DMV community is key to them because their first and biggest party was here, they say. 

 The Official Wammies After-Party was hosted after the show by Steph Lova and P Stew of The Live Squad, and people partied all night, rightfully so!

Steph Lova and P Stew on the Wammies red carpet
Steph Lova and P Stew on the Wammies red carpet, Photo by Karina Torres Photography

Andrea Fort is The MusicianShip’s Senior Manager of Communications & Marketing. She describes the core activities of her six-person team as “dedicated to sustaining and growing our youth programs, including the Washington Youth Choir,” she says. “This year, we really took a step back to ensure that we included our youth voices and feedback from artists/judges from the previous years. We also brought on some really great people at Sonjé Productions who helped us amplify our vision for the 2023 Wammies.”

The Wammies are more than an awards show, she explains. “We of course want audiences to be wowed by the awards show but we also want artists and music fans to be involved early on, so we can hype up the region’s incredible music talent! More nominations, more voting, means heightened awareness for the region’s music community. I certainly saw it this year and I’m so proud of community members who promoted the Wammies through social media or on their own platforms … The DMV region has much to be proud of and our dream is for this region to continue collaborating, elevating each other through genres and generations, never forgetting the rich music history that grew out of the capital and its surrounding areas.”

Fort’s colleague is Carrie Davis, Operations Manager and Wammies Line Producer, who also shared her experience assisting with the special event. “The Wammies takes down barriers for local artists to have their art recognized,” she explains. “Our community is constantly producing ‘Greats’ and only a select few ever get their due. It’s important for the community to have a chance. The public decides who is nominated, the public decides who the finalists are – No memberships, no red tape.”

Her favorite part of the Wammie Awards is the industry judging period: “I love finding a diverse group of industry professionals who are the ones responsible for deciding the Wammie Winners. In this time of the season, the production of the show ramps up, and the media opportunities explode with the announcement of the Finalists. Seeing all of the Finalists take pride in their work before the awards show is a heartwarming experience.”

members of the Washington Youth Choir onstage at the Wammies wearing The MusicianShip shirts
Members of the Washington Youth Choir performing at the beginning of the 35th Annual Wammie Awards, Photo by Nate Payne Photography

The MusicianShip acquired the Wammies in 2019, and is dedicated to pay homage to the legacy and contributors to heightened awareness of the region’s music and communities, Fort and Davis explain.

“This year, we inaugurated an In Memorium segment thanks to the help of Chris Naoum,” Fort says. “I think it’s our collective responsibility to recognize our music forefathers and foremothers, from indigenous sounds like Go-Go stemming from African-American communities, music from Piscataway or Patawomeck peoples, and the Jazz that made its debut as Black Broadway on U Street.”

The 50th Anniversary Hip-Hop Tribute with Beau Young Prince had the whole crowd moving!

“Same with Whistle, E.U. and Mumu Fresh, distinguished DMV artists with a large repertoire AND community engagement,” they continue. “That’s important. We really try to showcase artists that are doing GOOD for the DMV community, we are first and foremost a youth and community-based non-profit so that is definitely a priority for us.”

“The history of the Wammie Awards is a heavy load to carry,” Davis says. “Original members of the Washington Area Music Association (the founder of the Wammies) continue to stay engaged and create space for the next generation. However, I often find community members confused about The MusicianShip’s acquisition of the Wammies. Through the lens of music education, the Wammie Awards blends well with the mission of The MusicianShip,” she says.

Alchemical Records would like to thank The MusicianShip as well as the DMV community for granting us with the 2023 Music Media Award and for their support throughout the years. 

Listen to the official 2023 Wammie Award Finalists and Winners playlists on The Musicianship’s Spotify to find more local artists!

Read about more of this year’s winners’ experiences in Issue 3 of our monthly zine, The Alchemist – find more information and subscribe here!

Overview of the Wammies at the theater inside Capital Turnaround
Photo by Nate Payne Photography
Alchemical Records contributor Emma Page

Emma Page

Emma Page, a recent Journalism graduate of The George Washington University, possesses a passion for music journalism and storytelling in all its forms. Originally from Baltimore, MD, when she is not writing, she can be found at a local concert or making music of her own.

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