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Top 10 World Music CDs

Andy Palacio & The Garifuna Collective
February , 2008

By Michael Stone


It seems the planets were aligned for Belizean singer, guitarist and composer Andy Palacio, whose Wátina (I Called Out) was one of the most groundbreaking albums of the year in any genre. The WOMEX 2007 world music award winner and a newly named a UNESCO Artist for Peace, Palacio is among the most eloquent voices of the African-Amerindian Garifuna people of Caribbean Central America. Joining him are gifted singers Sofia Blanco, Aurelio Martínez, Adrian Martínez, and their spry elder, paranda king Paul Nabor. Their powerful voices are beautifully complemented by Guayo Cedeño’s blistering electric guitar, saxophone, electric bass, and driving Garifuna drums and percussion—a backline ranking among the best of world-beat rhythm sections. Rising out of the African Diaspora, Garifuna music resonates with Afro-Cuban santería, Haitian vodoun, Jamaican Nyabinghi, and Brazil’s African spiritual traditions. Recorded in a beachfront village by Belizean producer-guitarist Ivan Duran, Wátina channels an ambient Garifuna sound rife with critical social commentary, the importance of ancestral connections, and a resilient sense of cultural pride. Duran has an impeccable touch, documenting performances whose deceptive simplicity is wonderfully difficult to place for those who like their sonic categories neatly defined. The musicians’ ease and palpable joy build a solid, stripped-down foundation for the plaintive, passionate voices at the heart of Wátina.