Queen Ifrica, Machel, Gramps among big winners at IRAWMA

(Jamaica Observer) – The 29 annual International Reggae & World Music Awards (IRAWMA) which took place last Sunday, May 2 at the York College Performing Arts Centre in Queens, New York was another spectacular affair that attracted a near-capacity crowd and a galaxy of international reggae stars.

Among the entertainers in the house were Queen Ifrica, Machel Montano, Tarrus Riley, Petah Morgan, Gramps Morgan, soca queen Alison Hinds, Julian Marley, Dean Fraser, Copeland Forbes, Mutabaruka, Tanya Mullings, songwriter Rene Cogle and numerous music industry insiders who all graced the red carpet. Jamaica Consul General to New York, Geneive Brown Metzger was among the specially invited guests. Hosts for the evening were Tony Rebel, Allison Hinds and Saran Dunmore; actress/comedian Hazelle Goodman hosted the VIP reception.

Queen Ifrica, who is currently in studios recording her soon-to-be-released album proved her musical might, copping a total of four awards — Recording Artiste of the Year, Best Female DJ/Rapper, Most Educational Entertainer and Songwriter of the Year. Gramps Morgan took home three nods, among them Best Song, Best New Entertainer, Best Crossover Song and so did soca star Machel Montano who picked up awards for Entertainer of the Year, Best Calyso/Soca Entertainer, Most Outstand-ing Show Band.

Singing sensation Tarrus Riley won for Best Male Vocalist, singer Bar-bee Most Promising Entertainer and Julian Marley Best CD, Awake.

Multi-platinum recording artiste Wyclef Jean and civil rights activist Rev Al Sharpton received the Marcus Garvey Humanitarian Award. Jean delivered his acceptance speech via video and gave an impromptu performance. NY musicologist Tony Ryan, producer Maurice ‘Jack Scorpio’ Johnson, Noel ‘King Sporty’ Williams and Tony Greene were inducted into the IRAWMA Hall of Fame. Songtress India.Arie and wordsmith Matisyahu received the Award of Honour. Radio broadcasters Trevor Forde 93.5 FM, Ron Muchette (Irie FM, Jamaica), Donovan Longmore 89.1 FM, Connecticut and Ricot Dupuy of the Hatian Press were also honored. Entertainer, songwriter Rennie Cogle who penned the million selling By The Rivers of Babylon (Boney M) and Sweet Sensation (UB40) was given the Producer’s Respect Award.

Most notable at the 2010 IRAWMA was the “next generation” of performers: Queen Ifrica, Tarrus Riley, Julian Marley, Gramps Morgan, Bar-bee and New Kingston Band who all delivered stellar performances. Machel “soca-sized” the audience with his energy and charm, dub poet Mutabaruka used his lyrical vibrato as only Muta can while Brigadier Jerry combined past and present hits to fully engage fans. Alison Hinds, Queen Ifrica, Barbee and Winsome Benjamin commanded the stage with feminine swagger and grace.

The most riveting performance of the night was however the magical combination of IRAWMA musical director Dean Fraser and singer Gramps Morgan who delivered a spellbinding musical tribute of the Buju/Gramps rendition of Palms 21 that was dedicated to incarcerated DJ Buju Banton. The song earned the duo a rousing applause and the respect of all present. Dance groups Dancerzblvd, Over Marz, Black Blingaz and Fearless Dancers delivered a moving and fiery performance that was choreographed by Donna Ray.

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