Iwer George –
The release of Neil Iwer George’s first song for 2024 Carnival, Happy People, has sparked controversy online as it includes the entirety of TT’s national anthem at the beginning of the song.
The writer of the anthem, Patrick Castagne, was also not included in the writing credits of the song.
Some people enquired whether the inclusion of the anthem was legal or moral, while others wondered if they would be expected to stand at attention if the song was played during a fete. Others were enraged at what they saw as a desecration of a national symbol.
Newsday reached out to George and asked his opinion of the controversy, and the lack of credit. In response, he sent a flyer announcing the formation of his band.
“Iwer George has launched his very own band. The name of this new band is ‘his band’. This has been in the making for quite some time and has finally become a reality. The band will also be available to back other artistes therefore it will always be ‘the artiste’ with ‘his band’.”
TUCO president Ainsley King said George typically begins his season with some controversy.
“He chooses to go in places that lead to a lot of criticism to start with, and the whole of TT ends up liking what they criticise. It’s not original as we know, but Iwer knows what he’s targeting, and everything he does is to create a specific impact, he does things with a specific target. We’ll just have to wait and see why he chose to go that way.”
Copyright Organisation of TT president Curtis Jordan said the anthem belonged to the government, as it had been commissioned by it, with the credit going to Castagne. Any objection to its infringement would have to be made by the government, he said.
On its website, the Office of the President said the national anthem should be accorded the respect due to it when played, and on no occasion should it be treated with scant courtesy.
“While (the anthem) must be played in the original music, the pitch, speed and tone can be changed,” and “There is no law that says you must stand for the national anthem, it is simply protocol,” it said.
In 2019, then President Paula-Mae Weekes objected to a performance of the anthem at the closing ceremony of Carifesta XIV.