Ephraim M. Martin, entrepreneur, publisher and TV personality is the founder and chairman of three prestigious annual events: The Chicago Music Awards (CMA); The International Reggae and World Music Awards (IRAWMA) and The International Festival of Life (IFOL). In 1982, Martin established Martin's International Culture a not for profit arts organization to promote the cultures, heritage, music, food, arts and overall way of life of African/Caribbean/Mexico/South and Central America and the United States.
Martin was the 2006 recipient of the prestigious Black Heritage Image Award: he was named among the top ten "People Who Rock Chicago" by New City, weekly newspaper; and was honored among the top fifteen African-American "Men Who Lead" at the Afrique Magazine Awards.
The mission of the International Reggae & World Music Awards (IRAWMA), established in 1982, is to acknowledge and honor the accomplishments and contributions of reggae and world music artists, including: songwriters, performers, promoters and musicians. Produced by Martin's International , the IRAWMA has been staged in many major cities including: Atlanta, Chicago, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, New Orleans, New York as well as Port of Spain, Trinidad and both Montego Bay and Ocho Rios in Jamaica.
The impetus behind the IRAWMA is its commitment to promoting greater participation and acceptance of Reggae, Caribbean and World Music, Internationally.
In 1993, Ephraim Martin established the African/Caribbean International Festival of Life (IFOL) in Chicago, Illinois.
The IFOL attracts an average 50,000 patrons per year, with more than 200 exhibitors/vendors and some 70 performing acts on three stages.
The International Festival of Life- Carnival of Nations now incorporated countries of the Caribbean, Africa, South and Central America, alone with Mexico to showcase and promote their lifestyle and heritage. Jamaica and its reggae music remain the driving force. Entertainers from various African, Caribbean, Hispanic/Latin American territories play a vital role in making this IFOL Carnival of Nations live up to its objectives of “Bring nations Together” and “Living Together As One”.
"It’s said that no person alive (from the biggest Hollywood producer to the smallest or underground producer has consecutively produced 100 annual special events in total; but Ephraim Martin will change that this year and create entertainment history.
Currently with 97 once per year special events under his belt, Ephraim’s 35th Anniversary of the Chicago Music Awards and 25th International Festival of Life, July 1st thru 4th, in Chicago will be his 98 and 99; then at the conclusion of the 35th Anniversary of the International Reggae and World Music Awards (IRAWMA), October 2nd in Fort Lauderdale, Florida will be his 100th annual special event which will certainly set a world record.
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.
On Sunday, October 2, 2016 at the conclusion of his 35th International Reggae & World Music Awards (IRAWMA) and his 100th Annual Entertainment Event, Ephraim Martin creates history and set a record as the only known person alive to have consecutively produced 100 Annual Entertainment (Awards/Festivals) Events. The 100th Annual Event milestone occurred over a 35 years period with four unbroken annual events. Namely: The Chicago Music Awards (CMA), The International Festival of Life (IFOL), the Caribbean Festival (now merged with the IFOL) and the International Reggae and World Music Awards (IRAWMA).
HISTORY/RECORD SETTING: Since September 1982, Ephraim Martin established the Special Event business, Martin’s International at 1325 South Wabash Avenue, when the area was a ghost town. Now 35th years later (coming this September), 1325 Wabash is still the historic home for Martin annual Chicago Music Awards (CMA), the International Reggae and World Music Awards (IRAWMA) and the annual International Festival of Life (IFOL). Martin recently made history and set world record by producing more than 100 annual Special Events (Awards/Festivals) out of this South Wabash address.
In celebration of Ephraim Martin – Martin’s International 35th Anniversary at the same South Loop address, the occasion was celebrated with the inaugration of the Jerk, Seafood and Vegan Fest (JSVFest) on Saturday, September 30th and Sunday, October 1st, from noon to 10:00 pm each day @ 2400 S. Dearborn Street between State Street & S. Federal Street, Chicago South Loop (4 blocks from McCormick Place), Chicago, IL 60616 approximately one mile from Martin’s International office, Chicago, Illinois.
On September 8 & 9, 2018, amidst chilly, windy and below 70 degree an unbelievable 10,000 patrons turned out to celebrate our second annual JSVFest in the Park 540 at the same location.
We are now in preparation fort our 3rd annual JSVFest which is set for September 7 and 8, 2019 at Park 540. We again look forward to the strong community partnership with sponsors, families, friends and others who will be treated to the real taste and satisfaction of Jerk, Seafood and Vegan cuisines; plus music, games, arts, crafts and more. Visit or call 877/973-4423 for more information.
Businesses are invited to brand their company/organization as a sponsorship partner and/or exhibiting vendor to tap into this diverse and multicultural community market. The JSVFest is a great vehicle for corporations, organizations and other community businesses to market, promote and sell goods or services.
Attached, please find sponsorship package for you to review or click this link: to see online for your participation.
The International Festival of Life Health (IFOLHealth) is a division of the International Festival of Life (IFOL), which is dedicated to the eradication of all diseases, especially Cancer, Diabetes, Arthritis, Cardiovascular, Kidney and HIV/AIDS, among other illnesses. It is presented as part of the International Festival of Life (IFOL), now celebrating its 27th year of bringing nations together, Thursday through Sunday, July 4-7, 2019 in Washington Park, located at 740 E. 56th Place, between 55th Street and South Cottage Grove, Chicago.
The International Festival of Life Health (IFOLHealth) Stage and Pavilion is a critical component of our mission to raise awareness and improve lives among people; especially minority groups, afflicted with chronic diseases such as HIV/AIDS, Diabetes, Cardiovascular and Arthritic health issues. The IFOLHA Pavilion will feature a health/education stage, with a mix of gospel and inspirational entertainers.
We will be presenting other uplifting presentations by health and medical professionals, personal testimonies and stories of hope by those struggling with cancer and other diseases, There will also be a forum for all those who have been touched by life altering illnesses.
There will also be health screenings and recommendations for attendees with health
This July 4th Independence/Freedom must have a new meaning! Independence “Free thy self!” from Cancer, Diabetes, AIDS and other diseases, as victims, families, friends and supporters unite and fight to overcome the diseases that plague the human body.
● There are approximately 26 million children and adults in the United States living with Diabetes (minority ethnic groups at the greatest risk).
● Racial and ethnic minorities accounted for almost 71 percent of the newly diagnosed cases of HIV infection in 2010. In the same year, 84 percent of children born with HIV infection belonged to minority groups.
● African American women were 40 percent more likely to be obese than Non-Hispanic, White women.
● Mexican American children, between the ages 6 and 17, were 60% more likely to be overweight as Non- Hispanic White Children
● There are about 20 million Americans living with Arthritis diseases, including 1.3 million afflicted with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Rheumatoid Arthritis is the leading cause of disability among Americans, with minority ethnic groups at the greatest risk.
We cannot continue to go on ignoring these statistics. We must work together to raise awareness and make healthy choices to fight back against illness, disease, and obesity.``
This Health Awareness Freedom Celebration will feature, what may well be, the world’s longest Cancer, HIV/AIDS and Diabetes line dance, in which all attendees will be invited to participate. Celebrity health experts will be invited as guest speakers and/or to serve as panelists in health workshops. The participation of all medical, hospital and health institutions in the area will be solicited by IFOLHA.
Part of the proceeds will go to the American Cancer Society, the AIDS Foundation and the American Diabetes Association. Visit www.festivaloflifehealthawareness.com, e-mail: or call 312/427-0266.
The annual International Festival of Life (IFOL) Health Stage and Pavilion is a critical component of our mission to raise awareness and improve the lives of people; especially minority groups, afflicted with chronic diseases. The following are a few statistics that embody the need for our mission:
• There are approximately 26 million Children and adults in the United States living with Diabetes, with minority ethnic groups at the greatest risk.
• Racial and ethnic minorities accounted for almost 71 percent of the newly diagnosed cases of HIV infection in 2010. In the same year, 84 percent of children born with HIV infection belong to minority groups.
• There are about 20 million Americans living with Arthritis diseases, including 1.3 million afflicted with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Rheumatoid Arthritis is the leading cause of disabilities among Americans, with minority ethnic groups at the greatest risk.
We must extend special thanks to all our health partners who over the years have helped to make our Health Pavilion viable and strong in educating the community, in particular Genentech, Inc, Walgreens, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Osco Pharmacy, Wal-Mart Pharmacy, University of Chicago Hospital, Northwestern, LaRabida Children’s Hospital, Rush Medical Center, South Shore Foot & Ankle Clinic - Dr. Peter Akerele, South Park Associates - Sykes Health Center- Dr. Antonio Senat- Medical Director, Dr. Ayo Gordon, Dr. Tanneia McCraney, Dr. Odie Payne, Dr. Calvin Flowers, Dr. Roland Rose, ChiroOne, Dr. Emanuel Bansa, and Ashland Medical Center- Dr. Prem Rapani, among others.
We have listened to your calls - our dedicated health and wellness fans, the people of Chicago, loyal festival visitors to Chicago and others who have requested that we expand the Health Pavilion to include more health organizations and medical providers to satisfy the health and medical concerns of the tens of thousands of seniors and other health - conscious patrons.
Special thanks to our dedicated staff, volunteers and patrons, whose years of continued support help to keep the International Festival of Life Health Awareness segment in the International Festival of Life alive and well.
Ephraim M. Martin