Winners of the Gen-Y Singing Competition — Durnel Sanderson (2016), Shauna-Kay Miller-Powell (2017), Dwight Hutchinson, Jr. (2019), Toriah Pryce (2020), and Yohance Smith (2022) — perform the territorial song to open the first Virgin Islands Icon Awards. (Photo: RUSHTON SKINNER)

As the sun set on Virgin Islands Day Monday, a steady stream of residents trekked up a red carpet into the Multi-purpose Sports Complex.

They were there for the first VI Icon Awards ceremony.

As they filed inside the lavishly decorated gym, some of them greeted each other and chatted while others gave interviews to youths from the VICONIC Training Academy and local media outlets.

Then they sat in folding chairs to take in a show that featured the long-awaited announcement of “VI Icons” chosen by 23 judges in 26 categories.

Conceived in 2020 but delayed until this year, the idea for the awards came from founder Kareem-Nelson Hull’s plan to “give people their flowers while they are alive.”

“I thought it was successful,” Mr. Hull said Tuesday. “I think any event that brings so many people that live in the Virgin Islands together for a happy cause and not for sad moments like memorials or funerals is absolutely successful.”


The night began with the territorial song performed by past winners of the Gen-Y Singing Competition. Then Raúl “Jougo” Sprauve, Eustace “Boss” Freeman, Danté “Pascal” Wattley, Nouveau Royale and the Elmore Stoutt High School Rams Cheerleaders performed back-to-back.

After that, host Temulji Hughes called each performer back out with two of their background dancers. This time, the performers were dressed to represent different flavours of tart: coconut, guava or pineapple. The audience was asked to scan the QR code on their ticket to vote for their flavour of choice.

“I think they said coconut and guava isn’t selectable,” Mr. Hughes joked. “So just choose pineapple. That’s fine.”

He didn’t get his wish, however: Coconut ultimately came out ahead.


After the tart contest, the emcee gave an overview of the show.

“Allow me to share some fun facts about tonight,” Mr. Hughes began. “Obviously, the first Virgin Islands Icon Awards is happening on Virgin Islands Day. Happy Virgin Islands Day! There are 125 nominees tonight. Fifty-eight are men, 47 are women, and 20 represent groups or brands.”

At least one female, he said, was among the nominees in each category except two: Music-Production and Social Media Influencer of the Year.

“The youngest nominee turned 18 on the 30th of May, which means that if he waits tonight, he will be drinking legally,” Mr. Hughes added. “The oldest nominee is 93 years old: Ms. Eileene Lucia Parsons.”



Categories, winners

Between jokes, Mr. Hughes announced the winners and invited each on stage to give a speech.

Among them was Ms. Parsons, a former legislator who won the award for history, culture and traditions.

“I can’t believe that as a politician, I run out of words,” Ms. Parsons said, drawing laughter from the crowd. “My grandmother used to say, ‘Lord, in spite of everything, you still bless me.’ Tonight, whoever selected me, whether I had won or not, it was an honour.”

For the entrepreneurship category, Phillip “Roti Man” Glasgow took the prize along with his wife Ayana Glasgow, who wasn’t present to receive the award.

“Roti Man is not just one man,” Mr. Glasgow said. “Roti Man is a whole community: a body of people that are pushing us for greatness.”

Also during his speech, he thanked his business partners, city officials and grocery stores.

“That’s what people don’t know about small businesses,” Mr. Glasgow said. “It’s not just one small business looking out for themselves. They have small businesses looking out for one another, pushing one another.”

The Multi-purpose Sports Complex was filled Monday for the first annual Virgin Islands Icon Awards. (Photo: RUSHTON SKINNER)
Next year

For at least the next five years, Mr. Hull plans to organise the awards annually. After that, however, he said he expects the event to slow to a biennial schedule.

“We are looking at different categories, and we are looking at removing or alternating some categories,” he said. “We may not do all 26 categories every year. You may see 16 categories [from] this year and then you will see other categories which are in the next year.”