The show had to go on - Organisers host IRAWMA without public audience
Last Saturday, the 38th staging of the International Reggae and World Music Awards (IRAWMA) revealed and honoured its winners for 2019 and had its ceremony - all at once - via television, radio broadcast, and social media.
Ephraim Martin, president of Martin International and organiser of the awards ceremony, said that the ceremony, originally scheduled for Sunday, March 29, at the AC Marriott, had to go on "without the glitz and glamour of the red carpet and without a live audience".
Martin said that he has live-streamed award shows in the past that included the audience and awardees.
"It has been done for our shows in Trinidad and New York while the event was actually going on, so why postpone or cancel it? A good thing to note is that it's usually more persons tuned into the televised and online broadcasts than are attending the show," he told THE STAR.
He said that this was the only way they could host it because the coronavirus outbreak left them in a period of uncertainty.
"We don't really know how long this is going to last, and so the announcement of the award winners and ceremony could not be put off for another six to eight months, especially with the industry and the thousands of people worldwide who helped to select the winners anxious," he said.
The scaled-down IRAWMA event was hosted by Winford Williams. The opening act was a verbal skit and dance presentation showing the evolutions of the local music genres by Dance Xpressionz and moved directly into the awards presentations to veterans Stranger Cole, Bongo Herman, and Derrick Morgan for the Icon of Ska, Master Drummer/Percussionist Icon, and Icon of Ska/Rocksteady/Reggae awards, respectively.
Other icons receiving awards were Sizzla - Icon of Culture; Ken Boothe - Icon of Rocksteady; and Buju Banton - Icon of Dancehall but they were not part of the televised event.
"The entertainers who are winners of awards will be contacted, if not already, and can collect them at a later date when it's a more convenient time," said Martin.
"I must also acknowledge that we are already well into the next nomination period and that this was for the winners of 2019. If we had waited any longer, it would then clash with preparations for the 2020 nomination and voting period."
The big winners for the night were Buju, who copped seven IRAWMAs; Koffee, who won four, including Best Album for Rapture EP; and Spice, who also reclaimed her title as Best Female DJ.
Busy Signal was on hand to capture the coveted special Award for Dancehall Artist of the Decade - 2010 to 2020.
He said, "I am so honoured and I am grateful for this. Thanks to the whole team and staff of IRAWMA ... . I am at a loss for words. This is just blessing. It shows the work I put in over the years and that people value your work and people listen to what's happening and separate from it from what's going on. So big up everybody involved to make it possible."