Andy Palacio, Belize and Garifuna Music Hero, Dies at 47

andypalacio2.jpgAndy Palacio died on January 19 of a sudden massive stroke. He was a champion of Garifuna culture, particularly its music, dance, and festivals. His most recent album, “Watina,” won numerous awards in 2007 and he had just completed an extensive international tour—including a concert in Dangriga on Garifuna Settlement Day. National Geographic’s Intelligent Traveler correspondent Susanne Hackett put together a wonderful tribute to Andy with footage she shot in Belize that day, including some of Palacio’s final interviews. Here are some more links:

—Notes from the Barn: a blog about Andy from his record company

—National Geographic Intelligent Traveler video

—Listen to Andy on NPR’s “All Songs Considered”

—The New York Times obituary: “savior of Garifuna music”

After a Belize City motorcade to the municipal airport, Andy’s body was flown to PG, then transported to his home village of Barranco, a Garifuna settlement near the border with Guatemala.

I love the story about how he got started (from the NYT article above): “Mr. Palacio grew up in a Garifuna family in the coastal village of Barranco, Belize, and soaked up local and international music. He worked as a high school teacher, and on a visit to Nicaragua with a literacy project, he met an elderly man who was one of the last Garifuna speakers in Nicaragua. He resolved to preserve the language at home and in 1981 served as host of a Garifuna program on Radio Belize.”

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