Joel ‘Positive’ Murray emerged as the top winner at the Silver Jubilee ceremony of the Caribbean Gospel Music Marlin Awards, garnering five awards including the two most prestigious awards of the evening – Outstanding Album for “Heart Wired” and Outstanding Song for “Stay Up”.
Murray, a native of Trinidad and Tobago, also won awards for Outstanding Music Video (Male) for “Stay Up”, which was filmed in Italy; Outstanding Dancehall Recording for “Stay Up” and Outstanding Reggae Recording for his hit single “Nah Dweet”.
Bahamian group Christopher Roberts & Friends took home awards for Outstanding Choir/Chorale for the single “A Message from the Lord” that featured vocalist Clement Penn Jr., Outstanding Junkanoo Rake & Scrape Recording for his national hit single “Jehovah Nick A Time” featuring multiple award-winning artist Pastor Simeon Outten and for “Outstanding Traditional Recording” for “Plead the Blood” that featured the late Bahamian female gospel artist Shaniqua Thurston.
Also earning three awards was Jamaican songwriter and recording artist Kevin Downswell for Outstanding Contemporary Vocal Performance (Male) for “All the Way”, the title track of his latest album as well as for Outstanding Praise & Worship Recording (Male) for his worship single “Close to You”.
Downswell also won for Outstanding Reggae Vocal Performance Duo/Group for the single “Carry Me” that featured a vocal contribution from Jamaican reggae singer Romain Virgo.
Guyana submitted one of its best into this year’s awards and he did not walk away empty-handed. Artist, songwriter and producer Samuel Medas took home two of the biggest awards of the night, one in the category of Outstanding Reggae Vocal Performance (Male) for his hugely popular single “Royalty” and the other for Outstanding Soca Recording for his mega hit “Stadium”, making him the first Guyanese artist to ever win a Marlin Award in either categories.
Medas won his third award that night for Outstanding Dance Recording for his single “Move”.
Bahamian gospel newcomer Cara T. Newton won her first Marlin Award for Outstanding Jazz Recording for “Him” and another in the Outstanding Junkanoo/Rake & Scrape Vocal Performance category for her hit “I Claim It (Victory)’’.
Also collecting her first pair of Marlin Awards was female singer/songwriter NISA from Trinidad and Tobago, who won one of the biggest awards of the night – Outstanding Reggae Vocal Performance (Female) for her single “Over It” – making this the first time in several years that Jamaica has not won this category.
NISA also won the award for Outstanding Music Video (Female) for video “Happy in Ah Real Lyfe”.
Neesha Woodz, the top gospel female recording artist from Barbados, who is considered one of the top female recording artists in Caribbean Gospel, won two awards this year, making it her third overall Marlin.
Woodz won for Outstanding Calypso Soca Vocal Performance Duo/Group for her single “Volume” that featured singer and producer Nathaniel from Trinidad and Tobago and for Outstanding Praise & Worship Recording (Female) for “God of Miracles” – the title track for her latest album.
Two of the top male recording artists from Trinidad and Tobago, Marc Isaacs and Farenite, also won two awards each this year. For Isaacs, his two-award win adds to his win in 2017, making this his third overall Marlin Award.
Isaacs, who is considered one of the top male gospel soca vocalists in the region, won for Outstanding Calypso Soca Vocal Performance (Male) for his single “Validate” and for Outstanding Pop Recording (Male) for “Scars”.
Winning his first Marlin Award was recording artist Farenite, who claimed the Outstanding New Artist award as well as the award for Outstanding Music Video Duo/Group for the multi-artist single “Transit Riddim” that also featured recording artists Superz and Kyiros.
Several artists won one award each this year, including recording artist and television producer/host Orlando ‘Landlord’ Miller, who won the Outstanding Reggae Pop Duo/Group award for “Lord You’re My Strength” featuring female vocalist Isabel Davis.
Bahamian female artists also claiming individual awards included songwriter and recording artist Alia Coley, who took home the Outstanding Calypso Soca Vocal Performance (Female) for her single “Favor”, making Coley the first ever Bahamian female gospel artist to win this category.
Legendary Bahamian gospel sensation Allison Mason-Rolle won the Outstanding Traditional Vocal Solo category for her single “Abide in Me”.
Newcomer Latoya Culmer won for Outstanding Inspirational Recording (Female) for song “Not Alone”.
Grand Bahama-based female gospel recording artist Vanessa Rolle won Outstanding Black Gospel Recording for her single “Plead My Cause”.
Rolle, who has been enduring health challenges, actually won the first ever female artist Marlin Award during the staging of the first Marlin Awards in 2006.
Kenyatta Taylor won Outstanding Inspirational Recording (Male) for “Still I Wait”.
Monique Terez won her first Marlin Award for Outstanding Pop Recording (Female) for her single “Your Love”.
Gospel hip-hop artist Tammilee Jules won her first Marlin for Outstanding Hip-Hop Performance Solo for “Tree Planted”.
Gospel hip-hop group Chosen Soldiers, brothers Don Jr. and Chaz Major, also won their first ever Marlin Award for Outstanding Hip-Hop Recording for the single “Different & Cool” featuring E Man & Stacs.
The awards show was held at the Myles E. Munroe Diplomat Center on Sunday, July 3.