Former Road march King Neil Iwer George has landed the first official controversy of Carnival 2024. The song called ‘Happy People has created a huge controversy online with his inclusion of the National Anthem in the Carnival 2024 release. At the start of the song, Iwer sings the National Anthem to the Soca beat of the song, before going on to the rest of the lyrics.
The song, which was co-written by Ken Marlon Charles (KMC), is three minutes and 16 seconds long and begins with a rendition of the National Anthem. It includes a call from the artiste to “send dem Trinis hands in the air” as he introduces the hook.
Since its release, the song has received outrage on social media. Retired Brigadier General and former national security minister Carl Alfonso is reported to have commented on the song saying: the use of the lyrics of the National Anthem, which was written by the late Patrick Castagne, originally for the Caribbean federation and then used for Trinidad and Tobago’s national Anthem was very disrespectful.
Alfonso said: “I can’t say it is illegal, but I can say it is being disrespectful. I don’t know if he is going to be arrested for singing the Anthem like that, but it certainly can be deemed disrespectful. I haven’t read up on it to see if it is illegal. I know the flag has a flag etiquette that goes with it,” he said.
President of the Copyright Music Organisation of T&T (COTT) Curtis Jordan said the National Anthem is a work commissioned and owned by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago and only the state can raise an issue of possible copyright infringements.
Jordon said: “Since the copyright belongs to the state and is not under COTT’s purview, I would not be able to comment on that specific matter. There are laws pertaining to the use of national symbols and emblems and if there are any infringements then the state will deal with it accordingly,” he said.
Tourism and Culture Minister Randall Mitchell said he was not aware of any law that specifies the protocol required for the playing and reciting the Anthem but pointed out that it must, by convention, be accorded the utmost respect at all times.