The end of the Northwest Arkansas Music Awards (aka the NAMAs)

March 29th, 2013 at 12:47 pm

This time last year, the voting process for the Northwest Arkansas Music Awards was already underway.

There’s a reason you haven’t heard about a 2013 version of the contest — the annual awards event will not return this year.

Organizer Susan Porter confirmed that news to me yesterday morning.

Porter started the NAMAs more than a dozen years ago as a reader poll in the Fayetteville Free Weekly, which she owned at the time (Disclosure alert: It’s now owned by the Northwest Arkansas Media group, my employer and the publisher of this blog).

The NAMAs grew into a night of camaraderie between local musicians at a well-attended awards show, which changed locations often but for the last two years was held at George’s Majestic Lounge.

According to Porter, who retained the rights to the NAMAs after the Free Weekly was sold to Northwest Arkansas Media, corporate sponsorship declined with the economy several years ago, making it a dicey proposition. In an attempt to broaden the sponsorship base, Porter added Rock-It Music Week in 2011 and continued that concept in 2012.

Rock-It, a weeklong music industry seminar preceding the NAMA award ceremony, was never well attended, Porter said. The response led her to believe the NAMAs had run their course.

Porter does not expect to revive the event. That means if Northwest Arkansas is to have another music scene award ceremony, it will require a different leader and a different name.

Personally, I will miss the NAMA ceremony. It’s perhaps the only time all year Fayetteville’s diverse music community gathered under one roof. The contest had its flaws, but they were outweighed by the cooperation it fostered, if even for a night.