Studio 360: Remembering Andy Palacio
This week's Studio 360 podcast is a rebroadcast of an interview Kurt Andersen did with musician Andy Palacio:
Palacio –- a major star in Belize -– was a cultural ambassador of the Garifuna ethnic minority. He died suddenly in late January, at age 47. Palacio visited Studio 360 last July to perform songs from his album Watina, which went on to many critics top-10 lists for 2007. Here is Kurt’s interview with him, and Palacio’s live performance.
I checked iTunes for the album, but it also was listed on Amazon.com's MP3 store for $1 less. But the great thing is that Amazon's MP3s are DRM free, and when you download the songs, they are automatically loaded into iTunes.
Palacio's music is best described with the word "infectious." Not to mention that when you listen, you're soon virtually transported to a Caribbean beach--a welcomed change from NYC in early February, even if it is snowless and in the high 40s.
Andy Palacio is not only Belize's most popular musician and performing artist, but a cultural activist with a deep commitment to preserving the values of his Garifuna culture.
Born and raised in the coastal village of Barranco, Andy grew up listening to traditional Garifuna music as well as imported sounds coming over the radio from neighboring Honduras, Guatemala and the United States.
Along with several of his peers he formed a Capella singing groups and bands and began developing his own voice. However, it was while working with a Garifuna literacy project in Nicaragua in 1980 and realizing that the Garifuna language and culture was steadily dying in that country, that a strong cultural awareness took hold and his approach to music became more defined.
"I saw what happened to my people. The cultural erosion I saw deeply affected my outlook," he said recently, "and I definitely reacted to that reality."
His reaction took the form of diving deeper into the traditional chants and rhythms of the Garifuna. "It was a conscious strategy. I feel that music was the best way to preserve the culture. It's a way of maintaining cultural pride and self esteem - especially in young people."
And so began a unique fusion of Garifuna and contemporary music.