Buju Banton leads IRAWMA with 11 nominations

The International Reggae and World Music Awards (IRAWMA) on Tuesday evening unveiled the nominees for the 39th staging of the ceremony. Unlike previous years, the event was virtual, and streamed live on the award’s website.

The virtual conference was hosted by multi-IRAWMA and Grammy winner Gramps Morgan, who himself picked up four nominations this year.

It must be déjà vu for Buju Banton, as he again takes the lead this year and with the same number as he did last year — 11. Banton has been nominated in the 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; 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.

“This is such a coincidence. The only difference is that last year, it was 10 nominations and one special award that didn’t require voting,” IRAWMA President Ephraim Martin said, as he extended congratulations to Banton and all the nominees.

Among the artistes with multiple nominations for the 2020 eligibility period, which ran from January to December, are Bounty Killer, Popcaan and Koffee with six each; Skip Marley and Beenie Man with five apiece; Gramps Morgan and Tarrus Riley with four; and Sean Paul, Shenseea and Russian with three each.


Perhaps the surprise of the evening was Vybz Kartel, who did not receive a single nod. Kartel received four nominations last year.

“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 2020, Kartel released two albums, To Tanesha and Of Dons & Divas.

Vying for the Toots Hibbert Award for Best Album/CD are Upside Down – Buju Banton; In Search of Lost Time – Protoje; Higher Place – Skip Marley; One World – The Wailers, and Hot Shot 2020 — Shaggy.

In the Best Female Dancehall/Rap Artiste category, D’Angel picked up a nomination, alongside Jada Kingdom, Shenseea, Spice and Stefflon Don. Over on the male side, Bounty Killer, Beenie Man, Buju Banton, Govana and Popcaan have been nominated for the U-Roy Award for Best Male Dancehall/Rap Artiste. The Marcus Garvey Humanitarian Award nominees are Bounty Killer Buju Banton, Sharon Wiles and Sonia Patterson.

Voting by fans opened immediately following Tuesday’s press conference. The organisers urge voters to consider the social relevance of materials, originality and sales; the scope of local and national performances; the quality of their performances and stage appearances when making their choices. The full list of nominees is published on www.irawma.com.

This virtual IRAWMA will be broadcast from Jamaica on Sunday, May 2. This year’s theme is ‘Reggae & World Music Still Rise’.

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