Jamaica Observer: KINGSTON – LOCKDOWN, the pandemic anthem by Grammy-winning artiste Koffee, has been awarded Song of the Year by the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA).

The popular song beat the other nominees – Loco Remix by Agent Sasco featuring Bounty Killer, Lighter by Tarrus Riley featuring Shenseea, Like Royalty by Protoje featuring Popcaan, and Cool as the Breeze by Chronixx – in a public vote to take the top prize at JaRIA’s annual Honour Awards which was staged virtually and streamed on Sunday.

In a recorded acceptance speech, Koffee thanked the organisers and paid tribute to the other nominees in the category.

“I just want to say thank you to my fellow nominees. Continue to do good music and achieve big things. Keep up that good energy. That is the purpose of the music – to inspire,” she said.

The other category which was decided by public vote was Breakthrough Artiste of the Year. This is awarded to an emerging act who has displayed vast potential. Winners of this award in the past have included Mortimer and Naomi Cowan.

This year, the award went to singer Khalia, known for her tracks Easy, Love is Real, and No Better Day.

The awards show, which is traditionally staged to cap off the events for Reggae Month in February, was rescheduled this year as the organisers grappled with restrictions due to the current global health crisis. It was a smooth production, anchored by a very inclusive touch as various public sector and “front line” workers were used to host the show and introduce the awardees and categories. These hosts included a nurse, a doctor, soldier, firefighter, member of the police force, and a courier.

There were thank yous all around as the recipients paid homage to JaRIA, family, mentors, friends and supporters who helped them achieve the milestone.

Among the recipients were the Blues Busters, who were recognised for their contribution and received the Icon Award. Singer Phyllis Dillon, who died 17 years ago, and toaster U-Roy who passed earlier this year were also remembered with this award.

Trailblazer Owen Gray, who was among the first Jamaican acts to have a hit in the UK, expressed gratitude in his recorded acceptance speech from his home in London, noting that it was a privilege for him to be recognised in this fashion.

Studio engineers Orville “Rory” Baker and Shane Brown were recognised for their contribution to the industry in their line of expertise.

In the gospel category George Banton and the group Change were this year’s honorees.

UK-based producers Leroy and Dave Heywood, better known as Mafia and Fluxy, and home-grown talent Handel Tucker received awards in this category.

“I want to thank JaRIA. In accepting this award I acknowledge that I stand on the shoulders of engineers, musicians, singers and all who are involved in the creative process of making music,” said Tucker in his pre-recorded acceptance.

The posthumous awards went to producers Winston “Bopee” Bowen and Edward O’Sullivan, better known as Bunny Striker Lee.

Musicians Stephen “Cat” Coore and Dalton Browne also received awards. Browne, a guitarist, died suddenly last year after a brief illness.

The promoters of the legendary vintage music street dance held in the Kingston community of Rae Town were also recognised by JaRIA.

This year’s Gregory Isaacs Foundation Award went to singer and graphic artist Orville “Bagga” Case for his work in designing album covers.

“I just want to use the opportunity to acknowledge others [so they can also] get their ‘big up’. Neville Garrick, Howard Moo Young, Junior Moore from the Tamlins, Patrick Kitson, AJ Brown and Wayne Armond,” said Case.

The New Media Awards went to Germany-based reggae website Reggaeville.com

This year’s honoree in the songwriter category went to the talented Harold Butler, who has penned iconic tracks for the likes of Cynthia Schloss and Beres Hammond though his incredible talent has been dogged by his mental health challenges.

The presentation ceremony also saw strong performances from Mary Isaacs, Levy Heritage, Judy Joy, 8 the Band, Serina Constantine and Johnny Clarke, all backed by the orchestra under the direction of former JaRIA chair Ibo Cooper.