Maxine Stowe (left) in discussion with Opposition spokesperson on Culture and former music producer Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange.—

Thirty years after reggae was granted Grammy status, a leading music industry player has mixed views on its impact.

Maxine Stowe, a Jamaican who has worked with Island Records and Sony Music International, believes the benefits of a Best Reggae Album win depends on the artist’s reputation.

“It does lift the profile in the reggae markets for some winners and is a resume and bio builder,” she said. “Only the winners that are already positioned in the mainstream selling stores would get a sales bump, not any that are just in the ethnic or reggae markets.”

The National Academy of Recordings, Arts and Sciences (NARAS) established, what was then, the Best Reggae Recording category in 1984. The following year, Black Uhuru won the first reggae Grammy for the album, Anthem.

Only a handful of Best Reggae Album winners have sold heavily, the biggest being Shaggy’s Boombastic in 1996 and Dutty Rock by Sean Paul in 2004.

Both went platinum (sales over one million units in the US) and enjoyed a surge after their Grammy success.

The Grammy Award

The Grammy Award

Stowe was nominated as a producer for a Best Reggae Album Grammy in 1995 for the Sony Music compilation Stir It Up which included Diana King’s cover of the title track (originally done by Johnny Nash) and Here Comes The Hotstepper, a number one song for Ini Kamoze in the US.

Stowe commented on the up and down sides for Best Reggae Album winners.

“The positive is that it is exposure, the negative is that there is no real measuring stick relative to the quality of the success of the music,” she explained. “It is clearly linked to the Marley factor and other well-known artists to the mainstream folks, who dominate the voter list.”

The Marley family have dominated the Best Reggae Album category with brothers Ziggy, Stephen and Damian winning as solo acts. Ziggy and Stephen won three times as members of the Melody Makers which also included their sisters Sharon and Cedella.

Luminaries Bunny Wailer, Burning Spear and Jimmy Cliff have won the category more than once.

The 2014 Grammy Awards will be held this evening at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles. The nominees for Best Reggae Album are Sly and Robbie and the Jam Masters’ Reggae Connection; Sizzla’s The Messiah; One Love, One Life by Beres Hammond; Ziggy Marley’s Ziggy Marley in Concert and Snoop Lion’s Reincarnated.

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