The popular soca recording artists Bunji Garlin and Fay Ann Lyons were honored at the Young, Gifted and Black (YGB) Awards ceremony on February 22, 2023, in New York. There were two of the four artists from the Caribbean to be recognized as “Caribbean Music Icons” at the ceremony.
Garlin and Lyons were honored individually: Bunji is the winner of the 2023 Road March while Lyons an official proclamation from United States Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke on behalf of the House of Representatives that saluted her for her work. She also received a Certification of Recognition from New York City Mayor Eric Adams.
Also feted at the YGB awards ceremony were Jamaican singer Queen Ifrica, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame along with Garlin, and the singer Spice received the 2023 Caribbean Music Impact Artist of the Year Award. Garlin was also presented with a Proclamation from Congresswoman Clarke and a Certificate of Recognition from Mayor Adams.
Garland also won a prize totaling a quarter of a million dollars at the end of the 2023 Carnival celebrations on February 22, according to the Trinbago Unified Calypsonians Organization (TUCO). Garlin, who was born Ian Alvarez, had “Hard Fete” played 135 times during the iconic Carnival parade to defeat the tune, “Come Home” by Naliah Blackman and Skinny Fabulous, which was played 119 times during the course of the traditional parade of the bands.
Established in 2006, the YGB program is designed to bring attention to individuals who represent positive role models, inspirations, and a source of motivation for others in their communities. They were first presented as a marketing program that was meant to attract business to the Blue Mahoe Restaurant in New York City, one of the most popular Caribbean dining venues of the 1980s and 1990s.
The awards have no formal selection criteria, but represent a peer-to-peer acknowledgment and appreciation of the nominees’ drive to achieve success, which allows them to be ambassadors of the “entrepreneurial spirit.” The honorees of the previous year are the first to recommend a new individual to receive the next year’s award. Those making nominations must have a personal connection with the nominee, and at least 10 to 20 nominees are selected.
As of February 23, 2023, more than 300 individuals have received the YGB awards.