Entertainment: Bunji Garlin performs at Florida's Kaya Fest

Bunji Garlin’s musical style and delivery has always been scrutinised by many Trinbagonians.

However, his music, which transitions well across different genres, has been accepted all over the world by many people including those who are not predominantly members of the Soca fan base.

On Saturday April 22, Garlin broke yet another boundary for himself, as well as Soca music, when he performed on stage at the inaugural Kaya Fest, which was held at the Bayfront Park Amphitheater in Miami.

Hosted by Stephen Marley and his brothers, who also headlined the festivities, the event took place to show unity with new political realities.

Medicinal marijuana became legal in Florida during November's paradigm-shifting election, so festival organizers sought to promote additional education about the benefits of marijuana’s many uses. The mission statement for the festival was “Education Before Recreation” and it was emblazoned on green shirts worn by those in attendance.

The Kaya Fest was not short of popular names and included performances from Sean Paul, Lauryn Hill, Wyclef Jean, reggae pioneers Inner Circle, and others. But, Garlin was the only Trinibagonian/Soca artiste on the cast.

When asked what were his views on being a part of show of this nature, Garlin said that firstly, he would like to thank the Marley team for having him on the show, and congratulate Stephen and his brothers on the success of the first annual Kaya Fest. Garlin added that when he received the request from the Marley camp to perform at the event, he was appreciative and saw it as validation of himself as well as the work that he has done.

The four-time “International Soca Monarch” champion and “Soul Train” award winner told CNC3 that he did not hesitate to accept the request to perform, as he knows exactly what to do at those types of events. Garlin also added that he did not have to “cover it up or half sell it” because the promoters as well as the audience who attended knew that he is a soca artiste and what he was there to do, so “it was an easy deliverance”.

Garlin performed for about 30 minutes, where he did songs such as Differentology, Big Bad Soca, Carnival Tabanca, Truck On D Road, Jungle Bae, So & So and others, which were received with great pleasure from the audience at the festival. But, he made mention of two things that stood out to him during and after his performance: Garlin said, “While performing, a young lady who was overwhelmed by the crowd response that I received, came on stage and hugged me.”

“The young lady, who is a pancreatic cancer survivor, follows soca music and my music in particular, said my music assisted her on her journey to recovery and survival, which was truly a touching story, and gave a great end to my performance.” The other thing that caught his attention was the feedback that ‘Big Bad Soca’ received after the

performance. He said that ‘Big Bad Soca’ has received great reviews since T&T Carnival 2017, and is taking shape to be as big international as ‘Differentology’ and ‘Carnival Tabanca’, which is a great accomplishment for “a pure soca track”.

At the moment, Bunji Garlin and his team are in Bahamas preparing for a series of shows as Bahamas carnival is swiftly approaching. He also highlighted that both him and his team are thinking outside of the box, not thinking seasonally and taking more of an industry approach to their music.

For example, ‘Truck On D’ Road’ has been signed and featured in the internationally television trailers, with the exception of the US, for the ‘Fate of the Furious’ (Fast & the Furious 8), which is the first of many deals of that nature. In addition, they have been working beyond the music as he and his wife, Fay Ann Lyons, have moved towards acting and recently filmed their roles, in Los Angeles, for an upcoming movie entitled ‘Prison Logic’.

Garlin also added that he and his team are working on many recording projects and songs to be released soon, including the Chicken and Dumplin Riddim, which is the follow-up to his single ‘Chicken and Dumplin’ that was produced by Kubiyashi and Walshy Fire and is presently on heavy rotation on local radio stations.

This campaign is set to roll out in May and the riddim features artistes such as Shaggy, Sean Paul, Fay Ann Lyons, Beenie Man and more. Finally, he said that fans would be very pleased to know that the Vikings Band would be teaming up with another band soon and going on tour, so expect great things in the future and stay tuned.