WINNING COMBO: Road March winner Ian “Bunji Garlin” Alvarez and his wife Fay-Ann, whom he credited with co-writing the winning song Hard Fete, are seen in this file photo at the CIC Fete. –
COMMENTING on his Road March victory, Ian “Bunji Garlin” Alvarez said of his winning soca song: “Hard Fete was a people’s song with a people’s story from a particular era.”
He spoke after the Trinbago Unified Calypsonians Organisation (TUCO) released official results on Ash Wednesday with Bunji winning the Visit Trinidad Road March title as his song was played a total of 135 times at various judging points while Nailah Blackman’s Come Home placed second and was played 106 times. Machel Montano’s Like Yuhself placed third by some distance as it was played 50 times.
Although Come Home and Like Yuhself were collaborations with Gamal “Skinny Fabulous” Doyle and Patrice Roberts, respectively, TUCO issued a statement saying each competitor (Blackman and Montano) registered their song by completing the official TUCO Road March registration documents.
It added that it was in this vein that the organisation was obligated to publish the names that were registered as performing the song.
It then listed the songs as Hard Fete registered by Ian “Bunji Garlin” Alvarez and his wife Fay Ann; Come Home, by Blackman and Like Yuhself, by Montano through his agent and mother, Elizabeth Montano. TUCO called on people to be “so guided.”
While this is Bunji’s first solo Road March crown he won a joint title in 2019 with Famalay, sharing it Skinny Fabulous and Montano.
On his Instagram page, Bunji said his heart was in his hand.
He first thanked God as “these things are promised to no one being. It chooses through the people.” He then thanked his wife.
“Second thanks to my fellow artiste, wife, soul mate and best friend Fay Ann Lyons-Alvarez on writing with me on this beast of a song and sharing views to get the right execution and delivery off the ground.” Fay-Ann is listed as a co-writer in the song’s credit.
He then thanked producer Gregory “DJ Avalanche” Hodge for, “letting us get to grit on this beat and make some magic.” He thanked every “carnival soul” that carried the song to the finish line.
“To every single person in every sector of life who stood with this song right to the last I cannot thank you enough. Thank you, thank you, thank thank you, thank you all. We ain’t come for no stand up,” he added.
Bunji won $250,000.
His father-in-law Austin “Super Blue” Lyons was also thankful for the win, saying, “For all the times I (and someone in the family) won Road March, in very decade it has been (a year) with the number three at the end. I will show you the years that my family and I won Road March.”
He then listed the wins with his song Rebecca in 1983, his song Bacchanal Time in 1993; Fay Ann’s Display in 2003, his song Fantastic Friday in 2013, and now Bunji’s Hard Fete in 2023.
In an Instagram post, Blackman congratulated Bunji saying she always admired him as an artiste and from “day one in the Road March race it has been nothing but love.
“I wanna say thank you to the patrons and fans who have shown Come Home so much love and allows us to make a forever stamp in soca, Carnival and the culture. Come Home is a love song to Carnival and love is all I’ll ever have to offer,” Blackman said.
TUCO gave a breakdown of the results by venue. It showed that at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Bunji’s Hard Fete played 39 times versus Blackman’s Come Home, which was played 32 times and Olatunji Yearwood’s Engine Room, which was played seven times.
At Independence Square, Port of Spain, Hard Fete played 39 times, Come Home 21, and Like Yuhself, six times.
At Piccadilly Greens, Port of Spain, Hard Fete played 20 times, Come Home 13 times, and Engine Room four times.
At Victoria Square, Port of Spain, Hard Fete played 22 times, Come Home played 16 times and Engine Room three times.
In Arima, Hard Fete was played 12 times, Come Home five times and Like Yuhself, four.
In San Fernando, Hard Fete played three times, Come Home six times and Engine Room, four.
In Tobago, Like Yuhself played 40 times, Come Home 13 times and Machel Montano’s The Spirit, 14 times.