The ISSA's: An Award Winning Experience
Updated: Aug 23, 2019
I couldn't believe it.
I was sitting in a terminal at the airport waiting to board a flight to Atlanta. Aside from the bit of apprehension I had from not exactly being a frequent flier, I was about to embark on a journey where I would be coming face to face with numerous people I had only really known through their work. My work on Indie Star Radio was going to get a lot more real. I tried not to think about it too much as I boarded the plane, instead tapping into my wanderlust for adventure. I'd not ventured far from Los Angeles in my travels, and this was a great chance to absorb the culture of another part of our big and diverse country. With that in mind, I settled in for my flight, with no expectations, and ready for anything.
I had so many memorable experiences during my time in Dawsonville, but in the interest of not sounding like a long rambling travel-log, I will stick to my experiences with the awards show itself. The hall for the event was large, new, and beautiful. Artists, guests, and staff were greeted with a full fledged red carpet. This had been the first event in which I had been a part of the red carpet and not just someone documenting its goings on. Everyone was dressed to the nines, and for many, this was the first event of this magnitude they had ever attended. It was heartwarming to see the smiling faces of men and women being interviewed, noticed, and recognized. Many independent artists seemingly toil in obscurity for little press or money. But for one night, they were the superstars. There were no egos; and there was no evident drama on display. Just an appreciation for the hard working men and women who proudly proclaim themselves as Independent Artists. This was their night to shine, a night they all deserved and earned for their hard work and dedication to their sometimes seemingly thankless craft. To say the atmosphere was positive would be an understatement; the atmosphere was downright Electric!
In this moment, I need to acknowledge Tamanie Dove for her efforts in organizing the festivities and for doing such an awesome job. I do not know how she did it. She will never brag or boast, but she deserves all of the praise in the world and more for arranging this event.
A unique awards system was in place at the ISSA's; a bronze, silver, and gold tier system ensured more winners, and the fact that the bronze and silver were to announce the next tier award winner, in a way, ensured the humility and gratitude that were so prevalent with the entire evening. Bronze and Silver winners all congratulated the ascending recipients with real heartfelt joy for their wins, further eschewing the idea that awards shows need to be a nasty, competitive mess of hurt feelings and cries of injustice. The overall feeling in that auditorium was one of love and admiration for fellow artists, and that is a testament to Tamanie Doves care and true love for this organization, event, and the artists.
The show was full of top notch acts, all whom were just as good, if not better, live than recorded. The sound was impeccable, and the show, aside from some minor hiccups, went remarkably well. I left the show with more respect for the people I was with; more than just the email or Facebook emoji they used, they were all good people down to their core. An organization is only as good as its people, and from Tamanie at the top and all the way down through the ranks, I can say that the ISSA is full of good, honest people. Admittedly, I was not used to this, but the level of comfort with the artists and guests really proved to me that I've been hanging out with the wrong crowd.
There are those who would say negative things about the ISSA Awards, claiming they don't mean anything and aren't like other awards shows. Well first off, these awards do mean something. Recognition of your work by your peers or an association such as ISSA is a compliment of the highest regard. I know so many people who made contacts, formed alliances, and created collaborations at the ISSA Awards, as well as friendships that will last a lifetime. Its not all about record sales or some gold statue. Its about being a part of a movement, and knowing that there are hundreds, if not thousands out there, who are as well living their dream and doing what they love for the joy, and for the glory, not the gold. Its about being recognized for your hard work, and enjoying an evening where yes, in this cold sometimes heartless world of music, YOU, the artist, Matters.
As for being unlike other awards shows, perhaps that is a good thing. In a world full of materialism, greed, corruption and insanity, its enough to make a person give up having to bear the weight of all of the bad things. The ISSA Awards were such an event to convert the skeptic; an event that was magnificent, yet charming. Nice, but not overwhelming. An event where all who attended were welcome, comfortable, and thoroughly humbled and impressed by the amount of time and effort Tamanie and her organizers put just so they could feel appreciated. So to naysayers of the event, I feel that you may have lost your way, for the music industry first and foremost is an art and a passion, not to be spoiled by pre conceived notions of what it is "supposed" to be. In my humble opinion, the ISSA Awards show was a resounding success, and I will be happy to participate in next years award show, if they'll have me.