Here’s What You Don’t Want To Miss At The First Caribbean Music … – Essence

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One of the Caribbean’s greatest cultural exports to the rest of the world has been its music. From the relaxed grooves of reggae to the infectious rhythms of soca, the high-energy beats from dancehall, to the melodic storytelling and social commentary of calypso, among many other genres, the Caribbean has given rise to a diverse array of musical styles over several generations.

These musical genres of the Caribbean have captivated audiences, influenced pop culture, inspired dance styles, and much more. However, there has not been an award show centered on recognizing these significant contributions until now.

On Thursday night, the first-ever Caribbean Music Awards will occur at Kings Theater in Brooklyn, the New York City borough known as the epicenter of the Caribbean diaspora and home to the first and only Little Caribbean in the United States. The event is presented by the Caribbean Elite Group (CEG), which publishes Caribbean Elite Magazine,
a publication that covers Caribbean culture.

“One of the reasons we started an award show is due to the lack of international platforms for our Caribbean talent and artists,” says Dane Taylor, who co-founded The Caribbean Music Awards, Monique Blake and Prince Forde. “We have some of the biggest talents, but sometimes they can’t pass a certain level because of the platforms that they’re unable to reach,” he tells ESSENCE.

The historic awards show is set to be hosted by three-time Grammy award-winning Haitian-American rapper and musician Wyclef Jean. It
will feature performances by international superstars from the Caribbean, including Alison Hinds, Jada Kingdom, Dexta Daps, Kranium, Nailah Blackman, Ding Dong and Rupee. There will also be appearances by Spice, Baby Cham, Toni-Ann Singh, and more.

In addition, the show will also award a few coveted special honors. In recognition of his remarkable role in shaping and globalizing soca music over his 40-plus-year career,

Trinidadian singer, record producer, and songwriter Machel Montano will be honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award. The renowned soca artist, popularly known as The King Of Soca, was a concert headliner at last year’s ESSENCE Festival Of Culture. Legendary Reggae singer Beres Hammond will receive the Elite Icon Award for his impactful contributions to the genre over several decades.

This small but impactful team combined their decades of experience in the music industry and love for their Caribbean heritage to produce a high-quality, star-studded event to give Caribbean musicians their well-deserved flowers.

Blake says that the diversity of Caribbean musical genres and the depth of talent among Caribbean artists is often not adequately recognized at major award shows. “Usually, our artists have to squeeze into one category,” she says with only the hope of being acknowledged for work. “We wanted to help change that.”

However, at the Caribbean Music Awards, there will be awards across 26 categories in many Caribbean genres, including Reggae, dancehall, soca, konpa, and zouk. Trinidadian group Kes The Band, an ESSENCE Festival Of Culture favorite, leads the nominees with five nominations, including Performer of the Year, Video of the Year, and Artist of the Decade. Following with four nominations, each are Masicka, Ding Dong, Montano, and Shenseea.

“One major piece of having this show is education. We want to educate people about the major impact the Caribbean artists have had on the music industry and do it on a grand scale,” says Forde. The other piece, he adds, “is being an example of what’s possible when a community
of people come together for the culture.”

The Caribbean Music Awards is a culturally significant event celebrating the rich diversity and talent of the Caribbean music and entertainment industry. By bringing together artists, producers, and industry professionals, the awards ceremony recognizes their contributions and showcases Caribbean music’s vibrant and dynamic nature to the world.

The team behind this groundbreaking show says it’s truly a moment for the culture. “It’s bigger than money. You know, it’s bigger than the congratulations. It is bigger than all of that… We’re just excited to be a part of the journey in what evolving Caribbean culture and presenting it to the world looks like,” Blake shares.

The inaugural Caribbean Music Awards will be streamed live on YouTube and Tempo Networks.

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