Steersman of Garifuna music – Andy Palacio

Parents, please listen to me.

Teach the children Our language and our songs; our beliefs and our dances

The time has come for it to be preserved

The time has come for it to be taught

The time has come for it to be preserved

Lest we lose it altogether……

(From the English version of Andy Palacio’s song “AMUNEGU”)

Andy Palacio

After the Thanksgiving Day of November, the Christmas of December ensued. How did you characterize Andy Palacio on the anniversary of his birth? He is the UNESCO artist for Peace, the winner of the prestigious WOMEX Award, a successful musician of Globalization and Central-Americanization or the psychical poet of Garifuna music.

“Music was always a part of daily life,” just like what Andy Palacio said. As tracing Andy first sojourn, his father ,Ruben Palacio, a man of sea is the prime mover behind Andy Palacio’s musical achievements. Ruben was able to travel wherever and took young Andy on his fishing and other-faring trips. From such experiences of his early sojourn, Andy developed to appreciate the bounty of the sea and coastline. He acquired much self-confidence and determination to hold his own whether in good or bad weather; and learn to project this self-esteem through song, a trait he acquired from his father, who was a walking collection of songs in Garifuna, English, Spanish, and Latin. It’s the former catalyst of his musical form blending traditional Garifuna and international music.

“I decided to use music as a medium for cultural preservation,” Andy Palacio said in an interview with NPR in 2007. During his early career Andy was a trained primary school teacher. Thought his music he taught many positive value to the rest of the world. From using Garifuna rhythms in punta rock with diverse African and Caribbean styles to assemble the traditional collection that brought together multiple generations of Garifuna musicians for socially conscious songs, he played the Afro-Caribbean lilt of vintage Garifuna styles along with modern touches like an occasional electric guitar. The last album “Watina” became the bass jump of his inimitable rhythm in 2008.

“Our ancestors fought to remain Garifuna/ Why must we be the ones to lose our culture ? ” like the carrying message by the lyrics of “Watina”. Every November when Gurifuna boats are driving into the shore, we’ll sing and dance for commemorating our great steersman of Belize “Andy Palacio”.

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