When it was all said and done, after two days of Carnival celebrations, Ian “Bunji Garlin” Alvarez emerged as the Road March winner with 135 plays for his runaway hit Hard Fete at judging points throughout Trinidad and Tobago.
Nailah Blackman and Skinny Fabulous’ Come Home was second with 106 plays, while Machel Montano and Patrice Roberts’ Like Yuhself was a distant third with 50 plays.
The results were released by the Trinbago Unified Calypsonians Organisation (TUCO) yesterday. TUCO also announced that the Visit Trinidad Road March Champion had won a grand prize of $250,000.
Contacted by Guardian Media afterwards, Alvarez said the victory was “still sinking in.”
This is the second time he has won the title, the first being in 2019 with Montano and Skinny Fabulous with their collaboration Famalay.
Alvarez confessed that when the song was released, he and co-writer, Fay-Ann Lyons-Alvarez, his wife, did not view it as a Road March contender.
“Not at the beginning stage but sometime in between we realised what was happening. From the drop we know when we had built it, we knew we had built a serious beast of a song,” he said.
He said while they played mas on Carnival Monday, they did not go close to any of the judging points so he only got feedback on how the song was doing through social media posts.
Nevertheless, it is an honour he embraced.
“What it definitely means, it is an added accolade to my career as a contributor to the artform of Trinidad and Tobago,” Alvarez said.
Alvarez said the song was designed as one for the people.
“Particularly a set of people from a particular era. What the song says is hard fete, every fete was like that. There was no differentiation of uptown or downtown and if you were up here, you have to sing this slow version and down here…it was power all the way through. The aim too was really to bring the full fete vibes back into the Carnival in Trinidad and Tobago because we lost it for a very long time,” he said.
He added that he and his wife had also built a solid touring circuit in the United States and Europe and he felt Hard Fete “will work dynamically with the tour this time around.”
He said, “We have to make new opportunities of it and really maximise our own and as much as we will partner with different people from around the world, we have to start looking in to develop it to the next level, whatever level that may be, but it is ours so we really have to boost it from internally now.”
Alvarez and his wife have been in New York since Carnival Tuesday, where they are being recognised with the Caribbean Music Entertainment Icon Award (Soca and Calypso) at the Young, Gifted and Black Entrepreneurial Award Ceremony later today.
On her Instagram page meanwhile, Blackman posted a photo of herself with Alvarez.
She congratulated him on the victory and said, “I’ve always admired you as an artiste, so from day one in this Road March race it has been nothing but love!”
She also thanked patrons and fans who “have shown Come Home so much love allows us to make a forever stamp in soca, Carnival and the culture.”
Montano also took to social media to congratulate Alvarez.
“Nailah Blackman and Skinny Fabulous, you definitely gave it a good run, congrats to you both!!! Patrice Roberts, I am so glad we have another classic to add to our catalogue!!!”