Bunji Garlin hails from the home of soca, Trinidad and is revered wherever he performs. Born in Sangre Grande and raised in Arima, he is half of a distinguished performing couple as wife Faye-Ann Lyons has a huge fan base too.
Bunji Garlin started life as Ian Anthony Alvarez and has built up quite a reputation with his female admirers which is why he is also known as “de girls dem darlin’”. Also known as “Fireman” for his famous chant of “Fire!”, Garlin is never short of lyrics to entertain his massive audiences, which is why he also calls himself the “Lyrics King”. He is a second cousin of singer Patrice Roberts, who performs alongside Machel Montano.
One of the most versatile soca artists out there, Garlin enjoys blending soca with other genres such as reggae, r’n’b and chutney.
He gives back too. As the leader of his band the Godfather’s Asylum, Garlin mentors and provides a nurturing environment for soca artists who are talented but have not found a way to break into the business.
Garlin made his debut in the music industry in 1998, aged 20, performing in small venues and local events. He is the undisputed king of ragga soca, having won the Ragga Soca Monarch competition in 2000 and 2001, the two years the competition was staged.
Garlin won the Young King title in 2001 and captured the coveted title of International Soca Monarch the following year, then reclaimed this title for three more years.
Always a source of great entertainment, his high-energy performances are well received, partly because his lyrical confidence and eloquence is quite unique. Performing freestyle is his forte. Such is his popularity and range of ability, Garlin has collaborated with many artists, including Denise Belfon, Red Rat, Bounty Killer, Shurwayne Winchester and Machel Montano.
Such is his popularity, Garlin is the new face of Campari in the Caribbean along with Shenseea, another soca performer.
“I couldn’t be happier to be a part of the Campari team for Carnival season. It’s all about having a great time and doing amazing things and I think my brand represents that as well,” he said. The fact that you don’t necessarily need to consume alcohol to enjoy a Bunji gig is irrelevant.
Confirmed thus far for the campaign, will be a Bunji Garlin Campari dub mix of his 2017 soca hit “Big Bad Soca”.
The 39-year-old showman’s work has hit the mainstrearm; his “Brrt" is featured on the Grand Theft Auto IV soundtrack.
In 2013, Garlin won the Soul Train Award for Best International Performance for the song "Differentology", which features Nigel Rojas on guitar. An album of the same name was released by RCA Records and VP Records in August 2014.
In 2017 he released Turn Up, which gave him his highest US chart placing to date, reaching no. 3 on the Billboard Reggae Albums chart. Looks like his crossover appeal is going to continue growing.