Friday, September 07, 2007


Artist Interview: Andy Palacio

Artist Interview: Andy Palacio
August 07, 2007

Andy Palacio, Belize's most popular musician and passionate cultural preservationist, visited WERS with his band, the Garifuna Collective, to drop some knowledge on a subject of which most American's are completely ignorant - namely, who he is and what he's doing. Andy Palacio decided after involvement in a literacy advocacy program, that the Garifuna language and culture had been experiencing a rapid decline since European colonization. It would be his mission as a social activist and musician to direct his music to the preservation of his culture, a culture which can be found in Belize, Honduras, and Guatemala to name a few. Beginning with a style of dance music called "punta rock", Andy moved forward with his collaborator and producer Ivan Duran to combine the indigenous roots music of the Garifuna culture with African and Latin rhythms to create an infectious style of very danceable, very socially and traditionally conscious soul.

Andy and the Collective flawlessly performed their wonderful music from the recently-released new album called Watina, a landmark for Belize and modern Garifuna music. The music is the best possible combination of West African, Indies and Latin influences, a sweet and consuming groove that is so catchy it makes you want to sing the lyrics composed of a language you didn't even know existed. One of Andy Palacio's cultural goals is the conservation of the Garifuna language, so all songs are sung in traditional language in an attempt to spread awareness and pride in the culture. Palacio says the "deepest meaning comes from success at home," because "every time a child that is 5 years old sings "Lidan Aban" that is helping to keep the language alive, and the vocabulary in motion, and keeping it active." He has personally experienced the disconnection from Garifuna identity that the young are affected by, and he is working hard to reverse that.

From his brilliant new album, the band played the aforementioned "Lidan Aban (Together)," the Honduran-composed, up-tempo song about the preservation of natural resources versus development in a Garifuna village in Honduras called "Miami," and the title track from the album, "Watina."

Andy Palacio continues his quest as official Cultural Ambassador and Deputy Administrator of the National Institute of Culture and History in Belize to instill cultural awareness and protection, fighting for important issues through his genuine and beautiful music.

Bostonians will probably be surprised to know that there is a sizable community of Garifuna people who originated in Honduras and Guatemala living in Boston. The music of the Garifuna Collective is uplifting, soulful and mesmerizing, one of the few artists to come to the WERS studio that had most of the control room wanting to dance.

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