CEO-FOUNDER: I.F.O.L

Ephraim M. Martin

Ephraim Malachi Martin, Doctor of Business Administration (DBA), publisher, activist, former photo-journalist and TV personality, created the African/Caribbean International Festival of Life (IFOL) in 1993 under his umbrella company Martin’s International with the motto of “Bringing Nations Together Through Music and Culture”. In 1982, Martin also created IRAWMA and the Chicago Music Awards (CMA), and in 2017 he created the Jerk, Seafood & Vegan (JSVFest) Festival. These four annual events have garnered more than one (1) billion Media Impressions combined.

 

On October 2nd, 2016, at the conclusion of his 35th International Reggae & World Music Awards (IRAWMA) and his 100th Annual Entertainment Event; Ephraim Martin made history by setting a record, as the only known person alive to have consecutively produced 100 annual entertainment events (Awards/Festivals).  He was awarded six (6) accolades in honor of his outstanding achievement from various companies and organizations, which made him the night’s biggest winner. This savvy entrepreneur made history again when the Black Heroes Matter (BHM) Coalition he formed in 2020, won a historic victory for Chicago and the country by renaming the iconic Lake Shore Drive after Chicago’s founding father, Jean Baptiste Pointe DuSable Lake Shore Drive, on June 25th, 2021.

 

The first IFOL was held at Hawthorne Park Racetrack in 1993. It attracted an estimated 6,000 people and almost doubled the following year. Since then, IFOL has been held in venues like City Front Center (DuSable’s land as martin coined it), near Navy Pier, Washington Park, on Chicago’s South side and Union Park, on Chicago’s West Loop where attendance continued to grow averaging over 30 thousand attendees per year.

BEFORE THE I.F.O.L STARTED:

 

In 1982, Ephraim M. Martin, founded and produced the annual Chicago Reggae Music Awards and the International Reggae Music Awards (IRMA), primarily for the promotion of Jamaican music, arts and culture. The Awards also served as a voice of expression for the voiceless peoples of the world and especially pushed for an end to Apartheid and for the freedom of Nelson Mandela. The event was first sponsored by the popular Staples Singers and the Uhuru organization in Chicago, Illinois.

 

The Chicago Reggae Music Awards, at the request of entertainers in various music genres before long evolved into the Annual Chicago Music Awards (CMA), which to this day is the official and only Awards event that honors all genres of music in Chicagoland, while keeping Jamaica in the forefront and pushing for patrons to visit Jamaica. The Chicago Music Awards is held in the month of January of each year, honoring those in Reggae, Pop, Gospel, Country, R&B, Jazz, Blues, Rock, Polka, Opera, Classical, Spoken word and more.

 

Answering to the call of people from various African countries the Caribbean and other countries, the IRMA, evolved into the International Reggae and World Music Awards (IRAWMA), with Jamaica’s reggae music, arts, culture and lifestyle as its driving force.

 

IRAWMA which started on May Day 1982 in Chicago went on the road in May 1987 and has promoted Jamaica and its lifestyle through the Annual International Reggae and World Music Awards (IRAWMA) events, press conferences and other media events around the world. Cities that have hosted IRAWMA in the last 30 years, in the United States and overseas include: Chicago, Miami, Atlanta, New Orleans, Ocho Rios, Fort Lauderdale, Montego Bay, Port of Spain, and New York.

Ephraim Martin and NBA President Benjamin Crump
Martin and Hillery Clinton2
Ephraim Martin and Rev Bernice King daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr

A Pilar in the Community:

 

Left:

Ephraim Martin and NBA President Benjamin Crump

 

Middle:

Ephraim Martin with Hon. Hillary R. Clinton

 

Right:

Ephraim Martin and Rev Bernice King : Daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King

 

 

HONORS AND AWARDS:

 

1979- Three awards- Gold, Silver and Bronze from Jamaica Cultural Commission

1980- Award of Appreciation- Black Media Inc- USA.

1983- Award of Appreciation for Outstanding Contribution to African-America Community- Triton College

1996 -Named among Top Ten Men Who Lead in Chicago

1997- The Chicago Park District Black History Month Award for Cultural Appreciation

1998- Toussaint L’ Overture Award for Culture

2001- Named among top ten "People who Rock Chicago" by New City Weekly       

2006- Black Heritage Image Award for “Excellence in International Relations”

2006- Humanitarian Award- United Church of Christ, Paul Hall Boys & Girls Club

2007- West Indies Theatre Award for Most Outstanding Promotion of Jamaican music Culture in the United States.

2008- NBC TV Business Expo International (BXI) Travel Award for Outstanding Contributions to International Travel

2009- Consortium Award for Most Valuable Person in Entertainment- Chicago

2011- The Chutney Foundation Award for Most Outstanding Contribution to Chutney and Caribbean Music, Trinidad

2011- West Indian Dance Company Lifetime Award for Untiring Promotion of Jamaica an the West Indies music, arts and culture

2011- The St. Maarten Government and People Lifetime Award for Extra-ordinary Contribution to Reggae, Pan, Caribbean and World Music

 

~From 1976-Present- Scores of other awards were given and received

GREATEST HONOR

Ephraim Martin and

President Obama

HUMBLE BEGININGS:

1974 to 1981. Ephraim worked with the Daily Gleaner Newspapers (the oldest newspaper in the western hemisphere) and Daily Star Newspaper (sister afternoon paper to the Gleaner), headquartered in Kingston, Jamaica.  Ephraim, then one of the youngest media workers at the time, covered and occasionally dined with heads of Government and leaders from various countries. Among them: Queen Elizabeth, President Fidel Castro, President Jimmy Carter, President Julius Nyrere, Samara Machelle and Maurice Bishop, among others.