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World Music Features

Andy Palacio

By Phil Freeman
Published August 2, 2007

Guitarist and singer Andy Palacio, from Belize, formed the Garifuna Collective with the goal of bringing the music of this unique, West African-meets-Caribbean culture to broader attention. Andy provides insight into the Collective and Garifuna music in this interview with Phil Freeman.

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What motivated you to make the change from Punta Rock music to Garifuna music?
Firstly, let's establish that Punta Rock is, in fact, a form of Garifuna music. The change was in my decision to expose lesser-known forms of Garifuna music, which I believe have greater lyrical depth and social significance. We had reached a point where enough attention was being paid to Punta Rock and the time had come to offer a little more from the vast Garifuna “library” to the world.

The goal of bringing Garifuna music to greater world attention is a noble one, but isn’t it just as important to be entertaining?
I take to the matter of cultural preservation with great passion. We Garifuna people are proud of our cultural identity and our contribution to the diversity of the nations we inhabit and our world. Entertainment is a part of the strategy through which we now document and transmit elements of our heritage. My training is in the area of education, so even if this labor of love were not fun, I would have still put in my share of the work for the cause.

Your next project is going to feature female singers. What is the difference between the role of male and female singers in Garifuna music?
The difference between the role of male and female singers in this project is aesthetic and it is also a reflection of the characteristic inclusiveness of our communal music. There are forms of Garifuna music exclusively earmarked for performance by either men or women. However, the cross-generational and gender-inclusive nature of the project helps to keep us “true to form.”