South Florida is one of the world's great capitals of Caribbean culture, a cosmopolitan region where people of all nations come together to celebrate music with African roots.
That's why the 33rd annual International Reggae and World Music Awards will be held at the Coral Springs Center For the Arts on October 4.
Jamaica's own Ephraim Martin started the enterprise based on a push to do so from none other than Bob Marley and Jacob Miller on a Kingston Airport runway in 1980. Today, it has grown to become one of the most respected shows of its kind in the world. Here's what Martin had to say about the awards' founding, culture, and biggest stars.
New Times: You've held the awards in Harlem, Chicago, and Jamaica. What brought you back to Fort Lauderdale?
Ephraim Martin: The people want us back so here we are. We'll be featuring the best of the best. And a galaxy of entertainers will be performing. The awards ceremony starts at 9 o'clock, and the new Miss Universe Jamaica, Kaci Fennell, is hosting.
How did this all start?
It all started in 1982 with Peter Tosh, Dennis Brown, and Freddie McGregor as the headliners, and since then we have consistently honored the best of reggae and world music because there's no real recognition for the reggae or Caribbean or African artists. So we started the awards to give the honor and respect to the most outstanding.
How did you first get involved?
I was a newspaper reporter in Jamaica for the Daily Gleaner back when newspapers wouldn't write about reggae music. It was seen as an outlaw culture. I was the only reporter there when Bob Marley and Jacob Miller came back from a trip to Brazil on a private jet and I met them there on the tarmac at the airport, and they both told me I had to get involved with creating coverage for what they were doing.
At the time I didn't know I could do anything in the music industry. And two days later, Jacob Miller died. That was in 1980. After that Peter Tosh really pushed me to do it. And in 1982 we made it happen.
What was the importance of Jacob Miller to the music at that time?
Inner Circle was the primary band with Jacob Miller, and they would do things with Bob Marley in those days. They were the band, when you talk about action and attraction, everyone wanted to see Jacob Miller with Inner Circle.
They were the big man band. When they moved on stage, you couldn't help but move. In those days, they were the golden band. I used to visit them up on Beverly Hills, near Kingston. They were a serious force in Jamaica. And I'm pleased to see that Inner Circle is still strong after 40 years is music.
There is talk about the return of roots reggae to Jamaica is that right?
Yes, what is returning is the culture music, and positive music. Not just in Jamaica, but internationally. The dancehall is strong, but the culture is making a fierce comeback.
What are some of the categories that you give awards in?
We have the Bob Marley Award for entertainer of the year, best song, best album, best crossover, best DJ, best Souka, best African entertainers. We have so many categories, those are a few.
What are some of the styles of world music that you honor?
Souka, punta, chutney, all these genres from Africa, Belize, Guatemala... Souka is an African beat primarily from the Congo and Kenya. Punta is a rhythm music from Belize and Guatemala. There's a world of world music out there.
Who is an artist to look out for that some people may not have heard of?
Shatta Wale from Ghana is making an unbelievable impact around the world with reggae.
Any words for the people of South Florida?
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Come out to this wonderful awards show! All different types of cultures are coming together for one cause, unity of the music!
International Reggae and World Music Awards 2014, 9 p.m., October 4, Coral Springs Center for the Arts, 2855 Coral Springs Dr., Coral Springs. Visit coralspringscenterforthearts.com.