IRAWMA launched; heads to Kingston for 2019 staging

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irawma-awards.jpgEphraim Martin, conceptualiser of the International Reggae and World Music Awards (IRAWMA), says its 2019 staging will be in Kingston next May. He made the announcement at the launch of the 37th annual IRAWMA, held at JAMPRO headquarters in Kingston recently.

"I believe that it is time that we relocate the event to Jamaica permanently, because this is the home of reggae music. Billions of dollars are being made from reggae, but I don't know if Jamaica is getting its fair share. So we can refocus the world's attention on Jamaica, and its capital Kingston, as the home of reggae and IRAWMA. I believe we can help the local industry to benefit more from the music's success," Martin said.

It is the fourth time that the event will be held in Jamaica, but a first for Kingston.

Martin, who hails from St Thomas, is a former newspaper photographer/photojournalist with The Gleaner. He migrated to Chicago more than three decades ago. According to him, next year's staging is going to be special.

"So next year, in addition to honouring those who did well this year, we will also be celebrating that event and celebrating reggae's foundation artistes and musicians who are still making a difference in the world of reggae music," he said. "I have met with the minister of culture [Olivia Grange] and we are hoping that will fit in with her ministry's plans for that celebration."

Martin spoke of IRAWMA's economic potential for Jamaica.

"This would be great for both the music and the country. If we can get 1,000 or more visitors to Jamaica, not just the music, but for the lovely beaches and the historical sites and to give them a better understanding of the country and what it has to offer, like the people and the culture; that would be a great contribution. It means that they won't be coming here for the awards alone, although the awards is the anchor that brings them, but to enjoy the country," he said.

Established in 1982, IRAWMA acknowledges the accomplishments and contributions of reggae and world music artistes, songwriters, performers, and promoters. It was first held in Jamaica in 1991 in Montego Bay. It returned in 2001 and 2002, also in Montego Bay.

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