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By Sadeke Brooks—-

A musician by profession, Dexter Blake, owner of Linkage Radio in New York, says he has first-hand knowledge of the struggles artists face. So in 2010, he started the Linkage Awards to show artists they were appreciated.

Speaking with The Sunday Gleaner recently, Blake, who also goes by the alias ‘Linkage, said he was a drummer for many years’, and during that time, “I’ve seen first hand a lot of what Jamaican artists go through without any real recognition”.

In the beginning, he said the New York-based show focused on some of the veteran acts in the industry, honoring persons such as Dawn Penn, Marcia Griffiths, John Holt, Freddie McGregor and Ken Boothe.

Eventually, he said the show started to recognise persons in media, as well as some of the younger musicians and artists in reggae and dancehall.

“We involve the young and the old to make it a blend,” Blake told The Sunday Gleaner.

For this year’s award show, there is long list of nominees including I-Octane, Mavado, Bounty Killer, Beenie Man, Tifa, Macka Diamond, Lady Saw, Spice, Beres Hammond, Shaggy, Jah Cure, Romain Virgo, Tessanne Chin, Etana, Chronixx, Tarrus Riley, Carlene Davis, Omari and others.

high voting numbers

Dexter Blake of Linkage Radio

Dexter Blake of Linkage Radio

Blake noted that the winners will be determined based on votes on the Linkage Radio website,

He said he expects the voting numbers to be high because each category last year got upwards of 20,000 votes.

With the voting expected to go well, Blake said he expects the show to do well when it is held on May 3 at Evander Childs High School in Bronx, New York.

In the first year of the show, he said more than 2,000 tickets were sold and the sales increased steadily until last year’s staging when it snowed. Blake explained that based on the snow that caused the poor turnout last year, he decided to stage the event in May instead of March.

“We moved it to May because the weather is friendlier that time. We also moved it to Bronx which is central. We expect 4,000 persons, and already we have sold 1,000 tickets,” he said, said noting that Ernie Smith will be performing on the show.

Winner Chip Smith being interviewed

Winner Chip Smith being interviewed

“It’s an annual thing, I never drop the flavor. It is a red-carpet affair. I just hope to have one of the best award shows and to gain even more sponsorship. I want the show to go mainstream.”

Blake added that he wants as many Jamaicans as possible to participate and vote for their favourites.

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