Soca heavyweight Machel Montano with his band HD and Jamaican sensation Shaggy walked away with the lion's share of the awards at the Annual International Reggae and World Music Awards (IRAWMA) held at the National Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA), Port-of-Spain, on Saturday evening. Montano, who was among the show's top winners for the last three consecutive years, copped five awards-Best Male Calypso/Soca Entertainer, Best Caribbean Entertainer, Best Outstanding Stage Personality, Most Outstanding Show Band and Best Soca Band.
Shaggy, whose real name is Orville Richard Burrell, bagged three prizes-The Marcus Garvey Humanitarian Award, Community Service Award and the prestigious Bob Marley Award for Entertainer of the Year. Meanwhile, Chutney star Rikki Jai and Chutney Band Dil-e-Nadan, who were chosen via public and bmobile text votes, copped Best Chutney artiste and Best Chutney group, respectively. It was the first time that the Chutney categories were added to the list. Another new category was Best Steelband which went to 2009 Panorama champs Silver Stars. And the announcement that soca artiste Iwer George won the Most Improved Artiste award was greeted by loud gasps and laughter from the crowd.
Patrons were heard saying "What!" and "Oh my God!" George was not present to accept his award. The show, scheduled to begin at 7 pm, got under way at about 8.15 pm and was hosted by Jamaican artistes Tony Rebel, Shaggy and US singer, Deniece Williams. The crowd was treated to performances from a diverse crop of entertainers, including Montano, Isidore "Mighty Dow" York, who was inducted into the IRAWMA Hall of Fame, Soca Elvis, Tarrus Riley and General Grant. T&T got the nod over 30 countries, including Jamaica, Ghana and Nigeria to host the red-carpet affair for the first time. The award ceremony, however, failed to attract a large crowd and there were many empty seats at the NAPA.
Producer/president Ephraim Martin had earlier estimated that 5,000 guests would attend.
A co-ordinator told the T&T Guardian that "about 900 people" attended. More than 80 per cent of local and regional nominees and award recipients were absent, forcing others to accept the awards on their behalf. Special awards were given to comedian Dennis "Sprangalang" Hall, entrepreneur Tony Chow and Arts and Multiculturalism Minister Winston Peters, who copped a Lifetime Achievement Award. They were also absent. Businessman and former producer, Robert Amar, who was on hand to accept his special award, said while he was happy to be recognised for his contribution, he was disappointed that his "own people" failed to appreciate his accomplishments. "It's a bitter-sweet night, because this homeland has never paid me the kind of homage that this foreign entity has paid me," he said.
The show ended at 11.20 pm with some patrons calling it "an OK event."
Other awardees included:
• Destra-Best Female Entertainer (absent).
• Buffy-Best New Entertainer (absent).
• Kernel Roberts-Songwriter of the Year (absent).
• Freddy McGregor and Mighty Sparrow-Most consistent entertainer (absent).
• Rhianna-Most popular Hip Hop Artiste (absent).