Chicago-based concert promoter Ephraim Martin can add another year of honoring achievers in the music industry after recently celebrating the 34th International Reggae and World Music Awards (IRAWMA) in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
According to the Jamaican businessman, last week’s celebration at the Broward Performing Arts Center marked another milestone for his trailblazing effort in rewarding often unsung talents with a symbolic trophy akin to the miniature, golden gramophone popular known as a Grammy.
At its inception, the music celebration was known as the International Reggae Music Awards (IRMA) and was limited to highlighting the creativity of recorders in the genre.
“It was right after Bob Marley died and I wanted to dedicate something significant to his legacy,” Martin said.
However, that idea was not unique to reggae-loving business investors who quickly launched similar honors which included The Rockers Awards, Reggaesoca Awards, New York’s Tamika Awards, Jamaica Music Awards and a myriad of Jamaica / reggae-dominated titles.
Eventually, Martin broadened his realm lauding Caribbean and African contributions and for an even broader acknowledgement toasted the outstanding achievers in soca / calypso, hip-hop, gospel, rhythm and blues with an annual gala now known as the IRAWMA.
Fully-loaded, IRAWMA now boasts 46 categories that exemplify the diversity Martin and his team aim to exalt this year.
In addition to performance categories, he also named the Marcus Garvey Humanitarian Award in honor of Jamaica’s first national hero; another in honor of Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie I, and to exhibit pride in the motivating force that inspired the honors he attributed the Bob Marley achievement honor to the Rastafarian super-achiever.
Since first held in the mid-western city he resides, Martin has taken his concept to New York City, New Orleans, Louisiana, Atlanta, Georgia and internationally to Ocho Rios and Montego Bay, Jamaica as well as Trinidad & Tobago.
Simultaneously, since 1982 Martin also annually honors a myriad of entertainers with the Chicago Music Awards which he said “celebrates and recognizes the quality and diversity of music and artistry of Chicago’s best and brightest home-grown talent.”
In 1993, the busy music proponent launched an annual July 4th weekend, family-oriented event known as the International Festival of Life – popularly known as IFOL.
“The event allows cultural, educational and spiritual exchange through innovative programming and a marketplace format that highlights the global spectrum of entertainment, food, fine arts, crafts, small business and corporate communities. Two themes have been adapted to the International Festival of Life: “Bringing Nations Together” and “Living Together as One.” Unique to the finale of all the IRAWMA awards is the onstage, union of all performers, nominees, winners, losers and significant guests to sing Marley’s “One Love” anthem.
Next year’ venue has not been decided.
Regardless of the destination, according to Martin, accomplished talents representing a diverse array of music genres will be voted by their peers and ceremoniously honored with a black-tie gala.
Here is a listing of some of the 2015 winners:
Entertainer of the Year – Chronixx
Best Male Vocalist – Tarrus Riley
Best Female Vocalist – Etana
Best Song-“I Rise”- Etana
Best Album/CD – “Strictly The Best 50”- VP Records
Best Crossover Song -“Cheerleader”-Omi
Best Gospel-Oriented Song – “Dripping Blood”- Carlene Davis
Best Male DJ/Rapper -Demarco
Best Female DJ/Rapper – Spice
Best New Entertainer – Dexta Daps
Best Calypso/Soca Entertainer – “Like A Boss”- Machel Montano
Best Latin Entertainer -“We Are One” – Pitbull
Best African Entertainer -“Enemy Solo”- Awilo Longomba, featuring P-Square
Best Punta Song/Entertainer – “Numeri”- Lova Boy
Best Chutney Entertainer – Ravi B.
Best Music Video – “Rockstone”- Stephen Marley, featuring Capleton and Sizzla
Best Poet/Spoken Word – Mutabaruka
Most Cultural/Educational Entertainer – Tarrus Riley
Most Outstanding Show Band / Group – Inner Circle
Most Consistent Entertainer – Yellowman
Most Promising Entertainer – Omi
Best Instrumentalist – Dean Fraser
Concert of the Year – Rebel Salute
Best Caribbean Entertainer – Third World
Comedian of the Year – Rohan Gunter
Marcus Garvey Humanitarian Award – Etana
Martin’s International Award of Honor - WAVS radio personality John T.
– Latin musician Tito Puente, Jr.
Inducted to the IRAWMA’S Hall of Fame / Lifetime Award –
– A.J. Brown
– Ed Robinson
Pioneer of Reggae & Jamaican Music Promotions & Management – Tommy Cowan.