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Bunji wins Soul Train Award

By Joan Rampersad Tuesday, December 3 2013

click on pic to zoom in
Soulful: Ian 'Bunji Garlin' Alvarez during a performance for the 2013 Carnival season. On Sunday, he won the 2013 Soul Train Award for Best Internatio...
Soulful: Ian 'Bunji Garlin' Alvarez during a performance for the 2013 Carnival season. On Sunday, he won the 2013 Soul Train Award for Best Internatio...

Ian Alvarez, more popularly known as Bunji Garlin, was a happy and relieved man on Sunday night, after it was announced to the world he had won the 2013 Soul Train Award for Best International Perfor-mance for his song “Differentology”.

He told Newsday yesterday, “My beautiful wife and I celebrated with wine last night. We know we’ve got to celebrate with our fans too, and that will come soon.”

Alvarez, who is married to soca queen Fay-Ann Lyons, said they got confirmation of the award via email two weeks ago, but even though the show was pre-taped in Las Vegas on November 9 the winners were not officially announced until the event was aired on American network’s BET (Black Entertainment Television) and Centric on Sunday night.

Alvarez, a former Soca Monarch, said of his initial reaction, “I was happy since then, and very joyous. The most difficult part was keeping it away from everybody. It is now a weight off my shoulder.”

He dedicated the award to his wife, their daughter Syri, his parents and fans. “This is for them,” he said. Alvarez’ award, a replica of a “soul train”, is being shipped to the soca star who did not attend the taping, and is expected to arrive this week.

“Differentology” a soulful, Latin jazz infused soca ode to Carnival has received critical acclaim on the international music circuit.

On the BET website, “Differentology” was listed under Best International Performance and the following was written: “Are you ready? The soca artiste kept listeners moving at a steady pace with this Caribbean banger.”

Alvarez beat out fellow TT soca star Machel Montano whose “The Fog” was also nominated, as well as English-born Scottish recording artiste and songwriter, Emeli Sandé with “Next to Me”, Nigerian R&B duo, twin brothers Peter and Paul Okoye, known as P-Square, with “Personally”, another Nigerian recording artiste, singer, songwriter Iyanya who sang “Ur Waist” , to win the award.

To his fans, Alvarez said he would need a very long scroll to list everybody he has to thank.

“The people of Trinidad and Tobago moved the song,” said Alvarez. “How the song was placed on nomination in the first place, I don’t know. I am still trying to find out. People had to vote for it afterwards. The power of the people moved the song and I am very grateful and humbled by this award.”

Alvarez also stated that after many years of people doubting his style of music, even questioning himself, he nevertheless persisted and his efforts are now paying off.

The music award comes after “Differentology” was played as the background music to the opening scenes of last Thursday’s episode, titled “Somebody That I Used to Know”, of Grey’s Anatomy, a hit medical drama that airs on American Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and is now in its tenth season. Grey’s Anatomy is the most popular prime time TV show in the US, with over nine million viewers and millions more worldwide.

Alvarez said he felt very humbled and thankful such an opportunity had come his way.

His song has also become one of the NBA’s Top Arena Anthems for 2013-2014 Season, having been played during the Brooklyn Nets vs Portland Trail Blazers game at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, on November 18, and the Toronto Raptors blasted the hit during their Miami Heat face-off in Toronto, Canada on November 5.

Asked what’s next on the agenda, Alvarez said different opportunities were going to come forward. “We have to stay focused now as the real work is about to begin in the real world,” he said, starting with the launch of his band Vikings this weekend.

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