Veteran Dancehall artist Buju Banton has been nominated for 11 awards at the International Reggae and World Music Awards (IRAWMA), while Vybz Kartel was snubbed for the first time in many years.
The organization revealed the nominations on March 23 for what will be the 39th installation of the award show. The theme of this year’s show is ‘Reggae & World Music Still Rise’. The announcement conference, which was held virtually was hosted by multi-IRAWMA winner Gramps Morgan.
Last year, Buju Banton had 10 nominations and one special award at the IRAWMA.
He has been nominated in the following categories:
- Peter Tosh Award for Recording Artiste of the Year;
- Emperor of Reggae and World Music – Bob Marley Award for Entertainer of the Year;
- Gregory Isaacs Award for Best Song — Blessed;
- Toots Hibbert Award for Best Album/CD, Upside Down 2020;
- U-Roy Award for Best Male Dancehall/Rap Artiste;
- Virtual Entertainer of the Year;
- Best Dancehall Stagecraft Entertainer;
- Best Collaborated Song — Trust, Buju Banton and Tory Lanez;
- Best Music Video — Blessed;
- Best Caribbean Entertainer;
- and the Marcus Garvey Humanitarian Award
While sharing the news of the nominations, IRAWMA President Ephraim Martin congratulated the Not an Easy Road singer for his outstanding performance yet again, after he walked away with seven awards last year.
Martin spoke with the Jamaica Observer about the concept behind the virtual show this year and that organizers now have some experience as the format is being repeated from last year.
“This is the second time we are doing the show virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic and therefore every effort is being made to make it special. Over the past 12 months or so we have lost some truly outstanding stalwarts due to COVID and otherwise and we are going to have a special segment dedicated to these stalwarts, many of them were there from the start of reggae. So we will be saluting them this year,” he said.
He admitted that organizing the show virtually was no easy feat and also that to some extent it takes away from the feeling of extravagance on the night of the awards. He is also hoping that the 40th celebration of the show next year will be a face-to-face ceremony.
“Having the ceremony virtually takes away the glitz and glamour of the red carpet and the direct audience participation. At the end of the day, it is not really about glitz and glamour, it is about recognising the hard work of the artistes and making them feel appreciated. Can’t wait for next year which will be our 40th staging of IRAWMA. Hopefully, we will be together in person at that time,” he added.
Some other well-known artists who also picked up multiple nominations were Bounty Killer, Popcaan, and Koffee with six each, Skip Marley and Beenie Man with five each, along with Gramps Morgan and Tarrus Riley who copped four.
Sean Paul, Shenseea, and Rvssian picked up three each.
While these names may have been expected for the award show, one name that stood out was missing and that was Vybz Kartel. Martin also commented on the noticeable absence of the Worl’ Boss and expressed his surprise with the decision.
“I am very surprised. Every year Vybz Kartel has been consistently nominated in various categories in IRAWMA. I don’t know how or why the persons this year didn’t choose him for anything. This is [the] first in a very long time that this is happening,” Martin told The Gleaner in another interview.
Kartel’s albums, To Tanesha and Of Dons & Divas which were released last year, were both eligible for IRAWMA awards.
One of the most sought after awards from the show, the Toots Hibbert Award for Best Album/CD, will see some stiff competition as Buju Banton’s Upside Down comes up against In Search of Lost Time by Protoje; Higher Place by Skip Marley; One World by The Wailers, and Hot Shot 2020 from Shaggy.
D’Angel picked up a nomination in the Best Female Dancehall/Rap Artiste category, alongside Jada Kingdom, Shenseea, Spice, and Stefflon Don, all of whom have produced notable tracks last year.
Bounty Killer, Beenie Man, Buju Banton, Govana, and Popcaan will square off for the U-Roy Award for Best Male Dancehall/Rap Artiste.
Bounty Killer, Buju Banton, Sharon Wiles, and Sonia Patterson have all been nominated for the Marcus Garvey Humanitarian Award.
Fans are now being asked to vote for their favourite artists and the full list of nominees has been published on www.irawma.com.
The show will be broadcasted from Jamaica on Sunday, May 2.