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Buju Banton Leads IRAWMA Nominations With 11 Nods, Vybz Kartel Absent


The nominations for the 39th staging of the International Reggae and World Music Awards (IRAWMA) are in, and veteran performer Buju Banton is leading the pack with a whopping 11 nominations.


The nominees for what will be the event’s second virtual staging were announced at a press conference hosted by reggae artist Gramps Morgan on March 23. This year’s show is being celebrated under the theme ‘Reggae & World Music Still Rise’ – a subtle nod to the COVID-19 pandemic and the hardships faced in the past year.


Now in what came as no surprise to many, Buju Banton was heavily featured among the nominee categories, improving on last year’s showing where he scored 10 nominations. He walked away with 7 of those awards.


This year, Buju Banton will be going up for the Peter Tosh Award for Recording Artiste of the Year, the Emperor of Reggae and World Music – Bob Marley Award for Entertainer of the Year, the Gregory Isaacs Award for Best Song (Blessed), and the Toots Hibbert Award for Best Album/CD (for his album Upside Down), among several other musical awards.

In recognition of his philanthropic efforts, the entertainer has also been nominated for the Marcus Garvey Humanitarian Award. Through his foundation, Buju has been making an impact in the lives of children in state care and other facilities. He has donated computers, tablets, and other electronic devices to allow needy students access to classes during the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to providing scholarships. Buju goes up against Bounty Killer, Sharon Wiles, and Sonia Patterson for the Humanitarian award.


Bounty Killer is one of the artists that also picked up multiple nominations for this year’s IRAWMA, with six. Young performers Koffee and Popcaan also scored six nominations.

Veteran Beenie Man and newcomer Skip Marley picked up five nominations each, while multiple IRAWMA winners Gramps Morgan and Tarrus Riley scored four nominations each.


In an unexpected twist, Gaza Boss Vybz Kartel was not among the nominees. The snub came as a shock to many as Vybz Kartel has featured on the nominee and winners list almost every year since the early 2000s. He has consistently featured in the Best Male Dancehall Artiste category, but this year, the competitors for that title will be Bounty Killer, Beenie Man, Buju Banton, Govana, and Popcaan.


Meantime, a surprise nominee came in the form of D’Angel, who will go up against heavyweights Spice and Shenseea for the Best Female Dancehall/Rap Artiste award.

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