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Five Questions To Fay-Ann Lyons-Alvarez

Trinidad and Tobago soca songstress Fay-Ann Lyons makes it her duty to continue the legacy of her father - veteran calypsonian Superblue. Having been exposed to music from childhood, her passion to create and share that love for her culture came naturally. As a singer, songwriter and fitness aficionado, Lyons has broken a number of barriers and bridged a few gaps in the soca community, being one of the few female twin-island entertainers to win the Carnival Road March crown more than once and also the first and only female to win the International Power Soca Monarch title.

Her fitness brand, AzaFit, was launched in 2016 and has since been executed in Japan, the United States (New York), and Trinidad, where she has earned the name Aza Sefu - Swahili for 'powerful sword'. That power is observed not only in her stature, but her personality and drive to cut down negativity and uplift people around her. She is married to fellow recording artiste Bunji Garlin, who she says adds to her strength. Check out this week's Five Questions with and learn a little more about Fay-Ann Lyons-Alvarez.

1. Looking at your musical catalogue, which of your songs would you say have shared an emotional narrative of your life?

Well, maybe it does not share an emotional narrative of my entire life, but Meet Superblue, released in 2009, would still be at the pinnacle as it was not only a tribute to my father, but the same year, I received the International Power Soca Monarch title. I also performed for the entire carnival season while pregnant and then welcomed my daughter six days after - that was awesome.

2. What is it like working in the same industry as your husband?

It is easy, and it is one of the best things ever to have someone that understands your moods and, more important, your reactions to various things. Bunji understands how stressful it can get from planning the day out to include three hours in studio, then it turns out you are there until morning. I have been witness to seeing musicians with other halves that, because they did not have that understanding, it does not last.

Our life is very public, and having someone that understands you can't do certain things because of that is a good thing. On top of all that, working in an industry that is competitive, we have been able to come to terms with that level of aggressiveness and the mood to get up-and-go and equally share ideas, which gets half of the work done. For me, it only makes living my life and existence easier to have Bunji beside me.

3. How do you feel about the integration of Caribbean culture on the global scale - is it beneficial?

It is beneficial. In particular, take for example reggae-music festivals. You tend to find it's always an inclusion of soca, and when you have these festivals inviting a soca artiste to perform, then you recognise how much the music has grown - it is just as popular as any other music. Furthermore, it shows that the cultural barriers and borders are now disappearing (slowly but surely). When I see the inclusion of a Trinidadian, Antiguan or a Jamaican on the same show, regardless of the name of the event, that type of integration can work to the benefit of the people, the cultures, and the event.

 

4. How do you feel about the integration of dancehall with carnival culture in Jamaica?

I am actually one of the people that like it. We (Bunji and I) have one of the best relationships with dancehall artistes in Jamaica, from Spice; to Vegas to Aidonia. We have travelled extensively with many of them. It shouldn't be a debate, what people need to be is creative and integrate elements of their own culture to make it one big unparalleled hybrid experience.

5. What has been one of your most memorable experiences performing in Jamaica?

To date, that would Shaggy and Friends earlier this year. Performing on the same stage with some of the greats for a great cause made it memorable. After my performance I was introduced to international recording artiste Sting who was the most pleasant, darling of a man I have ever met. He was like, 'I think you are phenomenal' and after that I did not care who else wanted to speak to me.

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