The nominees for the 11th annual Groove Awards with Safaricom have been unveiled at an exclusive red carpet event held at the Kenya National Theatre last evening, which saw artistes nominated in 26 categories as well as surprise new entries into some of the most tightly contested spots.

Scoring the highest number of nods was Daddy Owen who led with 6 nominations for Male Artist of the Year, Collabo of the Year, Song of the Year, Album of the Year, Afro Pop Song of the Year and Video of the Year.

JFam & Recapp, came second with four nominations each. Jfam bagged nominations for Male Artist of the Year, Ragga/Reggae Song of the Rear – in which he received two nominations – and Collabo of the Year. Recapp received nods for Group of the Year, Hip Hop song of the Year, Collabo of the Year and Video of the Year.

Following closely were Evelyn Wanjiru and Eunice Njeri each with nominations in three categories. Both songstresses will face off for the Female Artist of the Year and Worship Song of the Year awards. Evelyn Wanjiru has also been nominated for the Collabo of the Year award, while Eunice Njeri is in the running for Album of the Year.

New contenders for the Artist/Group of the Year category include Bonz Mzalendo, Cliché, Mash Mwana and P31, Kenya’s newest all-female gospel trio that has also been nominated for Hip Hop Song of the Year. Eric Smith and Laura Karwirwa are also in the running for Artist/Group of the Year, with each receiving nods in other categories namely Worship Song of the Year and Video of the Year respectively.

“The announcement of the nominees follows a rigorous process of reviewing and evaluating entries, and we are excited to be unveiling the list of contenders for the 11th edition of the Groove Awards with Safaricom,” said Groove panel Chairman Charles Kairu.

“We are truly honoured to be in a position to recognize and celebrate today’s talented artistes and their contribution to the growth of the gospel music industry.”

The theme of this year’s awards show is: “Come as you are.” It focuses on the message of God’s love, grace and forgiveness, and encourages unity in the face of divisions that threaten to divide the nation.

“Through this platform, we have been able to not only reach out to the youth with positive messages that harness the power of music, but to promote the gospel music industry in Kenya, the East African region and further afield,” said Sylvia Mulinge, Director – Consumer Business Unit, Safaricom.

She added:

“We are proud to be supporting these awards, because we have seen how wholesome music is transforming the lives of Kenyans everywhere by giving inspiration and hope, and uniting us against various divisions.”

Public voting is now open and will run until 31st May 2016. Fans can vote by dialing *811# and following the prompts, or via the website www.grooveawards.co.ke

Regional Groove tours will kick off on 1st May 2016, and will see nominated artists traversing the country to meet their fans and drum up support for their bids to win in their nominated categories.

This year’s winners will be announced on 1st June 2016 at the Gala Awards ceremony, to be held in Nairobi.

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