Story by Coral King, Photos by Roland Hyde
QUEENS, New York – Glitz and Glam was in full effect at the 29th International Reggae & World Music Awards (IRAWMA). Julian Marley, Machel Montano, Tarrus Riley, Gramps Morgan, Peetah Morgan, Queen Ifrika, The Mighty Sparrow, Calypso Rose, Barbee, Awilo Longmomba, and other entertainers, all stopped to talk to the media intermittently as they walked a very long red carpet after exiting their limos to enter York College Performing Arts Center.
Noticeably missing was King of Dancehall, Beenie Man, who has consistently been a part of the awards show in previous years. Both his US work permit and his visitor’s visa were revoked by the United States Embassy, apparently, due to the rift which has formed between the US and Jamaica. He is among five dancehall artists who have had their visas annulled.
The Award show was hosted by the very spontaneous Tony Rebel, Queen of Soca, Allison Hinds, and Saran Dunmore. Trinidadian actress/comedian, Hazelle Goodman hosted the VIP reception. Ephraim Martin, Founder and Chairman of IRAWMA said, “My mission of this award ceremony is to acknowledge and honor the accomplishments and contributions of reggae and world music artists, including songwriters, performers, promoters and musicians …I dedicate the 29th IRAWMA to Haiti and Health Awareness.”
Machel Montano is undeniably having one of the biggest years of his career. He walked away with three awards, including the Bob Marley Entertainer of the Year Award. This puts him in league with top reggae winners Gramps Morgan with three and Queen Ifrika with four awards. With his usually energetic self he brought the crowd to their feet as they sang and danced along with him. He was also the exclusive soca act at this year’s ‘Best of the Best’ concert, hosted by P Diddy on Memorial Day weekend in Miami.
Poet Mutabaruka used his lyrical vibrato as only Muta can and Brigadier Jerry combined past and present hits in one thrilling performance in which he pleaded with everyone singing ‘Don’t Let Them Tell You to Turn Away From Jah.’ Alison Hinds, Queen Ifrica, Barbee and Winsome Benjamin commanded the stage with feminine swagger and grace. IRAWMA Musical Director Dean Fraser and Gramps Morgan, who recently performed in Trinidad, dedicated a song to Buju Banton.