Our History


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.

Since its inception in 1982, the Chicago Music Awards (CMA), the Chicago Music Awards celebrates and recognizes the quality and diversity of music and artistry. Each year the CMA recognizes Chicago’s best and brightest home-produced talent and has given Awards to Kanye West, Smashing Pumpkins, Lou Rawis, Chaka Khan, Robert Townsend, R Kelly, Curtis Mayfield, Buddy Guy, The Mightly Dells, Jerry Butler, Oscar Brown Jr., Albertina Walker, Ramsey Lewis, Dick Buckley, Sir George Solti, The Chi-Lites, Pop Staples, Umphry’s McGhee, Jerimih, Patty Jo Timmons and Von Freeman among others.

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.

The International Festival of Life (IFOL) was created in 1993. The IFOL festival is dedicated to celebrating the humanity of all people. The event allows cultural, educational and spiritual exchange through innovative programming and a marketplace format that highlights the global spectrum of entertainment, food, fine arts, crafts, small business and corporate communities. Two themes reflect the objective of the International Festival of Life: “Bringing Nations Together” and “Living Together as One”.

The 2014 IFOL celebrates the Carnival of Nations, as Martin’s International incorporates the countries of the Africa and the Americas (i.e. the USA, Caribbean, Mexico, South and Central America) to celebrate their independence in conjunction with the USA July 4th Independence, to showcases their cultures, lifestyle, products, give reason for tourist visit to their countries, games and more. Among the games will be a3x3 soccer tournaments with the inclusion of up to 48 teams. The IFOL is dedicated to Health Awareness for the eradication all cancers and other diseases. Visit www.festivaloflife.biz, e-mail: festoflife@gmail.com or call 312/427-0266. The Festival’s objective continues with the Carnival of Nations by “Bringing Together People of all Nationalities”.