IRAWMA boost

Observer senior reporter

Thursday, April 25, 2019

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INTERNATIONAL Reggae and World Music Awards' (IRAWMA) return to Jamaica has resulted in a renewed excitement in the annual event, set to unfold at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel in St Andrew on May 11.

According to organisers, when the poll closed at midnight last Saturday, the vote count was overwhelming. A total of 768,890 votes cast, with some fans voting in all 32 of competing categories.

Conceptualiser of IRAWMA, Ephraim Martin, said this represents the most votes cast in the awards' history.

“I am heartened by this overwhelming response and it's a testament to how much love there is for reggae music worldwide. Now that the votes are in, they will be tallied and verified and on the night of the event, May 11, the world will know who the winners are,” he told the Jamaica Observer.

More than 50 per cent of the votes came from the continent of Africa, primarily from Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Congo and Uganda. Some of the nominees from Africa are in multiple categories or who will be in attendance, including Shatta Wale, Stonebwoy, Diamond Platinum, Akothee, Top One Frissen, and Fancy Gadam.

Martin said staging the event in Jamaica has certainly gave the event a boost.

“Persons from around the world are excited about being a part of IRAWMA in Jamaica, and those who can't make it this year will be making plans for next year and in the future,” he said.

This year's staging of IRAWMA was originally heading to Trinidad. However, Martin and his team were encouraged by Entertainment and Culture Minister Olivia “Babsy” Grange to bring it to Jamaica, given the observance of reggae music's 50th anniversary.

This year a number of honour awards will be made to persons in the music fraternity, including foundation acts and the musicians who are still making a difference in the world of reggae music.

Bob Marley will receive the Special Emperor of Reggae and World Music Honour Award, which was created specifically for the late reggae singer; American civil rights activist Jesse Jackson snagged the Special Freedom Fighter award, while Grange will receive the Martin's International Person of The Year 2018 award.

Nominees for Bob Marley Entertainer of the Year, include Busy Signal, Chronixx, Damian Marley, Popcaan and Shaggy. Chronixx, Romain Virgo, Tarrus Riley, Protoje, and Beres Hammond are nominees for Best Male Vocalist.

In the category of Best Female Vocalist, Etana, Estelle, Jah9, Koffee and Queen Ifrica are nominated.

Established in 1982, IRAWMA acknowledges the accomplishments and contributions of reggae and world music artistes, songwriters, performers, and promoters. It was first held in Jamaica in 1991 in Montego Bay. It returned in 2001 and 2002, also in Montego Bay.

Past winners include Chronixx, Etana, Tarrus Riley, Third World and Inner Circle.

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