After celebrating three decades of music revelry last year in Trinidad and Tobago, the 31st annual International Reggae & World Music Awards will return to its Chicago birthplace during the July 4th weekend to mark a national and international independence anniversary.
The double toast to self-rule will herald America’s Independence Day as well as commemorate Jamaica’s jubilee.
One of the main attractions this year will feature a pavilion showcasing “All Things Jamaican,” and serving as a road to Jamaica’s Golden Jubilee in August.
In addition, the occasion marks IRAWMA’s return to the Midwest after travelling for 15 years to various locations throughout America, Jamaica and T&T.
According to Ephraim Martin, founder of the oldest annual, Caribbean music honors, this year’s celebration is significant because for the first time it will be held in conjunction with Chicago’s International Festival of Life (IFOL) a four-day, outdoor, marketplace and concert setting held annually during the holiday weekend.
Also marking a milestone, IFOL’s 20th anniversary will combine the revelry.
“It’s going to be a grand celebration,” Martin said.
Slated to begin on Jul. 4 at Washington Park the eclectic gathering and awards gala will combine celebrations the following day.
“We’re going to roll out the red carpet in Washington Park on the 5th of July right in the middle of the festival and just steps from President Barack Obama’s home.”
“Festival of Life will serve as the main event for residents and visitors from around the world,” Martin explained.
Martin said eight Jamaican, music icons considered living legends will be named for Reggae 50 Honors.
~Rita Marley - for her work in the perservation and promotion of reggae’s legacy.
~Marcia Griffiths - Empress Of Reggae and World Music and as the most indomitable entertainer in all the decades since early 1960.
~ Judy Mowatt- for spiritual service through music.
~ Freddie Mcgregor - For 50 years of dedicated & untiring service to Jamaica and the world through music.
~ Ken Boothe - For being most consistent in the preservation of Jamaica’s rocksteady music.
~ Eric Donaldson – The king of Jamaican song contest in past 50 years.
~ Charles Cameron -- For 60 years of untiring contribution to Jamaican music.
~ Copeland Forbes - For 50 years of valuable contributions to the music industry.