Sarkodie, DJ Switch, Kwame Yeboah and Shatta Wale

The 2021 International Reggae and World Music Awards (IRAWMA) promised a star-studded gala celebration of the best entertainers for 2020. On Sunday, May 16, it delivered just that.

The event streamed live on IRAWMA youtube channel, On Stage TV Youtube channel, Irie FM and PBC Jamaica. Viewed by thousands of reggae and world music fans across the globe-Caribbean, Africa, Europe, the Americas, Asia. It is the fans, over 100,000, who determined the winners, via public voting.

Most votes came in from continental Africa. With fans voting in huge force for their favourite artistes in each category.

The grand event featured live performances by both veteran artistes and artistes on the rise. All backed by IRAWMA’s in house band. The show kicked off with soulful crooner, D’ Yani. Decked in yellow blazer, he lit up the two-tier stage with his brilliant performance.

IRAWMA ambassador and multi-Grammy/IRAWMA winner, Gramps Morgan and dancehall entertainer, D’ Angel, were exceptional hosts. Engaging the audience with vibes, eloquence and their superb performances too.

Gramps garbed in white, from top to toe, performed his duties from studio, in Nashville, Tennessee. Wowing fans with his spiritually moving tune “People Like You.”  The song won the award for Best Gospel. Best female DJ/Rapper nominee, D’ Angel, blazed the screens with “Good Gal.”

Dancehall great, Beenie Man, delivered a performance full of pizzazz. Belting out a medley of hits and busting impressive dance moves. Beenie Man and dancehall giant, Bounty Killer, picked up the award for Best Dancehall Stagecraft, for their historical Verzuz battle.

During the tribute segment, Papa Michigan, recipient of the IRAWMA Award of Honour, sang in homage to musicians who transitioned during 2020 and early 2021.Other performance highlights included multi grammy winner, Ziggy Marley.

He serenaded fans with acoustic version of “Love Is My Religion,” before accepting the IRAWMA Hall of Fame/Lifetime Achievement Award, for forty years contribution to the reggae music industry; Ghanaian dancehall genius, Shatta Wale, copped Virtual Entertainer of the Year.

Shatta rocked the IRAWMA show with a powerful performance. Ras Takura, winner of Most Cultural/Educational Entertainer Award, delivered an ode to Africa. Dancehall stalwart Flourgan belted a pulsating medley of tunes.

Four artists topped the 39th IRAWMA. Each collecting three awards.  Dancehall and reggae legend, Buju Banton, won the Emperor of Reggae & World Music ‘Hon. Bob Marley Award’ for Entertainer of the Year; For the second consecutive year, Buju Banton won the Marcus Garvey Humanitarian Award, for philanthropic works through the Buju Banton Foundation. His album Upside Down 2020 earned the Toots Hibbert Award for Best Album/CD.

Reggae music maestro, Koffee, attained the Peter Tosh Award for Recording Artist of the Year; Best Female Vocalist-her third successive win in that category. Koffee also won the Gregory Isaacs Award for Best Song “Lock Down.”

Veteran artist Popcaan copped U-Roy Award for Best Male DJ/Rapper; Best Crossover Song “Party Next Door” Popcaan featuring Drake; Best R&B/Hip Hop Collaboration Reggae Song “Twist” Drake and Popcaan.

South African songbird, Nomcembo Zicode, snagged the win for Best New Entertainer. In addition, Nomcebe along with compatriot, Master KG, garnered Best Afro Beat Entertainer and Best Music Video. The incredible duo had the audience chanting and dancing to the global mega hit “Jerusalema.”  A song that has amassed over 260 million youtube views. 

Other notable winners: Sevana with 22,000 votes, won Dennis Brown’s Award for Most Promising Entertainer. Fans voted dancehall sensation Shenseea the Best Female DJ/Rapper. The award won by Spice last year and the year prior. Black Love Concert by Ghanaian rapper, Sarkodie, awarded Best Virtual Showcase/Concert.

Ahead of tough contenders Rebel Salute, Reggae Sumfest, Beenie Man and Bounty Killer Verzuz Battle. Kwame Yeboah of Ghana won the Best Instrumentalist Award. DJ Switch (Ghana) Best Young Entertainer and Dynamq (South Sudan) Best Sound System. Mutabaruka Award for Best Poet/Spoken Word Entertainer picked up by Vachi Kepwe Di Poet (Zimbabwe); Dancehall superstar Sean Paul took home the award for Best Caribbean Entertainer. Winky D (Zimbabwe) Best African Dancehall Entertainer.

The virtual audience witnessed business magnate and philanthropist, Josef Bogdanovich, being bestowed the Special Philanthropist Award. Presented by IRAWMA president/founder, Ephraim Martin. In lauding Bogdanovich, Martin stated “Josef Bogdanovich has had passion for Jamaican people and their music.

The evidence of his love for Jamaica is clear for all to see. Joe has not only been one of the biggest investors in Jamaican entertainment industry in particular. He is associated with some of the most famous Jamaican brands and continues to be a major investor in the entertainment sector. Martin’s International is proud and pleased to present the IRAWMA Philanthropic Award to Josef Bogdanovich.”

An elated Martin said “This year’s celebration was a big success, despite the pandemic. We saw the best entertainers and industry professionals, for 2020, being awarded. The performances were excellent. Great thanks to our sponsors Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Irie Fm, Downsound Records and R Hotel.

“Special thanks to the incredible IRAWMA team; including, Jacqueline Jackson (Operations Manger), Rosemary Duncan (Public Relations Manager), Olivia Douglas (Social Media Manger), Omar Sutherland(Security Director), the outstanding production team and all the volunteers. We look forward to a star-studded event in 2022. Stay in touch with IRAWMA.” Ephraim Martin added.

IRAWMA TOP WINNERS

1.Emperor of Reggae & World Music-Hon. Bob Marley Award for Entertainer of the Year-Buju Banton

2.Toots Hibbert Award for Best Album/CD-“Upside Down”-Buju Banton

3.Marcus Garvey Humanitarian Award- Buju Banton

4.Peter Tosh Award for Recording Artist of the Year-Koffee

5.Best Female Vocalist -Koffee

6.Gregory Isaacs Award for Best Song-“Lock Down”-Koffee

7.U-Roy Award for Best Male DJ/Rapper-Popcaan

8.Best Crossover Song “Party Next Door”-Popcaan featuring Drake

9.Best R&B/Hip Hop Collaboration Reggae Song- “Twist”-Drake and Popcaan

10.Best New Entertainer- Nomcembo Zikcode(South Africa)

11.Best Afrobeat Entertainer-Master KG, Featuring Nomcembo Zikode(South Africa)

12.Best Music Video-“Jerusalem”-Master KG, featuring Nomcembo Zokode(South Africa)

MORE WINNERS

13.Jacob Miller Award for Best Male Vocalist- Chronnix and Taurus Riley

14.Best Gospel Song-“People Like You” -Gramps Morgan

15.Bunny Wailer Award for Most Cultural/Educational Entertainer- Ras Takura

16.Dennis Brown Award for Most Promising Entertainer- Sevana

17. Mutabaruka Award for Best Poet/Spoken Word Entertainer- Vachi Kepwe Di Poet(Zimbabwe)

18.Best Female DJ/Rapper: Shenseea

19.Virtual Entertainer of the Year- Shatta Wale (Ghana)

20.Best Virtual Showcase/Concert-“Black Love Concert”- Sarkodie(Ghana)

21.Best Caribbean Entertainer-Sean Paul

22.Best Dancehall Stagecraft Entertainer-Beenie Man and Bounty Killer- Verzuz

23.Best Sound System-Dynamq (South Sudan)

24.Record Producer of the Year -Chimney Records

25.Best Instrumentalist-Kwame Yeboah (Ghana)

26.Best Young Entertainer (18 years and under)-DJ Switch (Ghana)

27. Comedian of the Year-Chris “Johnny” Daley

28.Best African Dancehall Entertainer- Winky D(Zimbabwe)

29. Best Reggae Rock Entertainer-Gentleman

30. Best Calypso/Soca Entertainer-Nadia Batson

31. Best Latin Reggae Oriented Entertainer-Daddy Yankee

Special Awards, No Voting Required:

32. Special Philanthropist Awards-Josef Bogdanovich

33. Inductee(s) IRAWMA Hall of Fame/Lifetime Achievement Award-Ziggy Marley(40+years)

34. Martin’s International-IRAWMA Award of Honour-Papa Michigan