The first Jewish Music Awards was founded this year by Michael Dorf, the festivals producer, in order "to show respect and be proud of our artists.
Things have changed so much from when Bob Dylan changed his name." Dorf explained that it was not the intent of this year's first attempt to get it perfect, but rather "to plant a flag in the sand."
The awards were determined by sending twenty-five journalists a survey to list their favorite bands in each category. The top four picked were then resent to select their favorite.
Contrary to common perception, Heeb Magazine is not part of the JM Awards program generally; Heeb's involvement was limited to the Lifetime Achievement Award to Joey Ramone. Nevertheless, Joey's presence and his impending award at the end of the show was the theme throughout the night. Both surviving members of the Ramones were in attendance, as were his mother and brother.