Reggae awards score trifecta on return to homeland

MP Olivia Grange, Ephraim Martin and Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness.

Jamaicans at home had at least three reasons to revel to reggae music last weekend when significant and historic events coincided for a celebration of the beat that was birthe on the island.

On May 11, the 38th anniversary date since Robert Nesta Marley made his transition, the International Reggae and World Music Awards, IRAWMA returned to the island for the fourth time since it was established and also memorialized the avowed king by celebrating its 37th anniversary in the capital city of Kingston.

Some of the most prominent recorders attended the gala to pay tribute at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston, among them the revered Rita Marley, Bounty Killa, Beenie Man, Mutabaruka, Spice, D’Angel, Tony Rebel, Koffee and Olivia Grange, the nation’s minister of culture, entertainment, gender and sports.

First celebrated in Chicago, Illinois one year after the May 11, 1981 passing of the legend, IRAWMA is reputed for hosting ceremonies in New York, Florida, New Orleans, Louisiana, Port of Spain, Trinidad, Atlanta, Georgia, Montego Bay and Ocho Rios with a gala black-tie ceremony that rewards achievers of the genre.

This year’s outing coincided with the eve of Mothers’ Day commemorations and a plethora of activities booked to laud women and their life-giving role.

A red-carpet, celebrity exhibition highlighted arrivals to the New Kingston-based Pegasus Hotel where heads of states, diplomats and even the Queen of England has visited.

Greeted by Ephraim Martin, Chicago resident and founder of the awards — top achievers of the genre, along with government officials donned red, gold and green, the colors associated with the music as well as Rastafarians, in display of the music they regard to be the music favored by kings.

Co-hosted by Koffee and Tony Rebel, the gala affair honored 32 talents in as many categories with special honors of distinction awarded to significant, outstanding individuals.

The best of the best included 2018 Grammy winner Shaggy who received the most nominations. He was voted in five categories but was unable to attend due to international bookings in promotion of his new album “Wha Ah Gwaan.”

Sean Paul and Koffee received the next highest with four.

Reggae king, Robert Nesta “Bob” Marley was awarded a posthumous honor naming him more than king but Emperor of Reggae.

His widow Rita accepted the coveted honor and seemed more than enthused when an African dancer gyrated as she watched a performance. Recipients of special achievement awards included: civil rights activist Rev. Jesse Jackson, singer Beres Hammond, Reggae Sumfest producer Josef Bogdanovich, crooner Freddy McGregor and Marley’s acclaimed I-Three backup singers Rita Marley, Judy Mowatt and Marcia Griffith.

Griffith was unable to accept her award because of her current extended tour in Europe. She is now in Germany.

Olivia Grange was also distinguished with a special award.

Artist manager Clifton “Specialist” Dillon was awarded an honorable acknowledgement for his role in steering the careers of numerous reggae artists to prominence. Dillon was on business in China and could not attend.

Martin said an unprecedented three quarters of a million votes were casted by reggae and world music lovers from all over the world who logged onto the web portal.


America’s longest running African dance festival returns to Brooklyn for a full weekend of traditional and contemporary showcase at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. DanceAfrica, the 42-year cultural, ritualistic expression from the continent offers “Rwanda Reborn: The Remix” that will highlight progress the nation of Rwanda has made 25 years after a genocide recorded the murder of 70 percent of the Tutsi population. The fact the nation’s people are determined to be recognized only as Rwandans and no longer segregated with varying loyalties to the Hutus, Twas and Tusisis is one of the primary reasons Abdel R. Salaam, artistic director decided to showcase the folkloric dance and music in the USA.

Founded 13 years ago, the company has performed throughout the world and won the Best Dance Group title at the Festival of Folkloric Dance.

Throughout their short existence they have been invited to perform in Spain, South Africa, Gabon, Turkey, Singapore, Russia and Nigeria.

In addition to the Gilman Opera House performances from May 24-27, the perimeter of the landmark BAM will be transformed to represent an African marketplace.

Vendors from across the country and the African continent ensure that the bazaar offer food, fabrics, fashion, jewelry, music, artifacts and rare African crafts at a premium.

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