Buju Banton

BUJU Banton has topped the list of nominees for this year's International Reggae And World Music Awards (IRAWMA).

The deejay is nominated for a total of 10 awards comprising: the Marcus Garvey Humanitarian Award; Best Caribbean Entertainer; Best Music Video for Blessed; Best Collaborated Song, Trust featuring Tory Lanez; Best Dancehall Stagecraft Entertainer; U-Roy Award for Best Male Dancehall Artiste; Toots Hibbert Award for Best Album ( Upside Down 2020); Gregory Isaacs Award for Best Song (Blessed); Peter Tosh Award for Recording Artiste of the Year; and the Emperor of Reggae And World Music Bob Marley Award for Entertainer of the Year.

Buju Banton is no stranger to IRAWMA nominations and wins as he was in the same position last year, sharing the top bill in terms of nominations and eventually walking away with the most trophies on awards night— a total of seven awards.

Other multiple nominees from the reggae and dancehall genres include: Koffee and Popcaan, who both have six nominations; Protoje and Bounty Killer with five nods; Tarrus Riley, Gramps Morgan and Beenie Man who have four nominations; and Sevana, Shenseea and Skip Marley who are up for awards in three categories.

Sizzla, Lila Ike, Rvssian, The Wailers, Spice, Agent Sasco and Capleton all have two nominations. Among the artistes with a single nod for an IRAWMA trophy this year are: Chronixx, Romain Virgo, Etana, Naomi Cowan, Shaggy, Govana, D'Angel, Jada Kingdom, Dexta Daps, Sean Paul, Anthony B and Skillibeng.

Conceptualiser of IRAWMA, Ephraim Morgan told the Jamaica Observer that plans are in gear for the virtual awards ceremony, which will be held in Kingston on Sunday, May 2, when all the winners in the 33 categories will be presented.

“This is the second time we are doing the show virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic and therefore every effort is being made to make it special. Over the past 12 months or so we have lost some truly outstanding stalwarts due to COVID and otherwise and we are going to have a special segment dedicated to these stalwarts, many of them were there from the start of reggae. So we will be saluting them this year.”

Martin further noted that his team did their best to ensure that the awards ceremony will be staged this year as there were so many artistes who, despite the prevailing global health crisis, did their best and kept audiences entertained with their music. However he added that putting on a show of this nature at this time has been extremely difficult.

“An awards show is never easy. It is even made worse due to the pandemic and the restrictions. This prevented so many of the team members from meeting as we are accustomed. But I have to recognise so many of them who rose to the occasion and really went above and beyond to make this a reality. Then there were the hundreds of music industry members who I must give credit to, as they did their research and nominated the artistes although we were going [through] the lockdown and other restrictions. The artistes put out so much good, new music we just had to support them,” said Martin.

“Having the ceremony virtually takes away the glitz and glamour of the red carpet and the direct audience participation. At the end of the day it is not really about glitz and glamour, it is about recognising the hard work of the artistes and making them feel appreciated. Can't wait for next year which will be our 40th staging of IRAWMA. Hopefeully, we will be together in person at that time,” he added.

Two special awards will also be handed out on May 2. Chairman of Reggae Sumfest and CEO of DownSound Records Joe Bogdanovich will be recognised for his philanthropy, while this year's inductee into IRAWMA Hall of Fame and recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award will be Ziggy Marley, who is being recognised for his more than 40 years in the music industry.

Buju Banton
BY RICHARD JOHNSON Observer senior reporter johnsonr@jamaicaobserver.com

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