With names like, "The Bum Bum Master," "Mr. Hand, Hand, Hand," "The Boss," and plenty of others, it probably seems like soca star Neil "Iwer" George is a man with an extreme identity crisis. But the high-energy Trinidadian singer is more of a master showman and soca genius than anything else — he's essentially figured out that by constantly reinventing himself, he gives West Indian audiences something new to cheer for year after year.
Although his name might not be familiar to music lovers who don't follow calypso and soca, George is consistently rated as one of the most popular artists during each carnival season. The Point Fortin-born singer has shelves filled with trophies from his many competition wins, including Best Nation-Building Calypso Song for "Times Hard, Hold Tight," a Road March title in 2003 with "Carnival Come Back Again." And of course there are the big ones: 2002, 2003, and 2007's International Soca Monarch champion. With a resumé like that, he's already looked at as a soca king, but that doesn't stop him from coming back each year trying to create the next big tune to bust during carnival season.
He's in town this weekend getting local audiences excited for Broward Carnival 2008, and he's performing with a slew of artists from all across the Caribbean island chain. It's nothing new to George, who travels almost year-round in support of his beloved soca.
With Denise Belfon, Sean Kingston, Anthony Cruz, Pitbull, Baby Cham, Tito Puente Jr., and others at Carnival Warm Up 2008. Saturday, August 30, at Miramar Regional Park, 16801 Miramar Pkwy., Miramar. $30. 4 p.m. Call 305-627-3665, or visit www.carnivalwarmup.com.
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During Trinidad's 2008 International Soca Monarch competition this year, his latest song "Over Yuh Head" — a fast-paced bouncy jam that entices listeners to wave their flags in the air — only earned him a second-place finish. Although he didn't win it all, he gained plenty of style points from onlookers by showing up on top of a crane, bringing more life to his "Over Yuh Head" theme.
To really experience George's music at its full capacity, you've got to catch his live performances. Fête after fête, George finds a way to make sure his concerts are always high energy affairs, and it's why, after nearly 22 years in the business, he's still going strong.
Not bad for a man who had a controversial musical debut after releasing several songs in the beginning of his career glorifying the female behind — the most memorable being "Bottom in the Road," which was banned on several T&T radio stations.
Ironically, George is now the owner of a soca community radio station in Trinidad. His well-known Soca 91.9 FM — dubbed Trinibashment Radio — is his way of further promoting the music he loves so much.