Andy Palacio: Music rich with tradition and cultures
Andy Palacio was a man known as much for his music as he was known for his impact on Belize and the promotion of it’s rich traditions and cultures. With his latest album, he had abandoned the typical mainstream Latin America instruments and stripped down his music to connect more with the true sound of his home country. That album, Watina, was hailed as one of the top albums of 2007. That would be the last album created by the Latin American legend, he has died at the age of 47.
KUT 90.5 was glad to host Palacio in April of last year. Along with his friend and fellow musician Aurelio Martinez, he performed tracks from his last album. His music was a mix of African and Central American sounds, dubbed “punta rock” by many, the instruments and rhythms are a direct result of his Garifuna past. His lyrics are socially-conscious and focus on serious themes, many of which Americans have no idea exist just south of us. He was a champion of community activism and global diplomacy—he was even chosen to serve as the official Culture Ambassador for Belize and served as the head of the country’s National Institute of Culture and History.
When Andy was 20 years old and traveling throughout Nicaragua, he met an elderly man of his same ancestry who opened his eyes to a past that was slowly fading away. The Garifuna culture and traditions were disappearing with the eldest of the country and the assimilation to the modern world drove the Garifuna to abandon certain traditions that Andy Palacio had just discovered. He decided to drop the electronic sound that was slowly dominating mainstream Central American music and devoted his sound to the traditional Garifuna music of acoustic guitars accompanied by intelligent, traditional lyrics. It was this sense of loyalty and devotion to his home country of Belize and it’s rich culture that would propel his legacy to more than a musician. In a matter of years, his music and positive outlook made him not just a cultural icon, but a diplomat of a fading culture that he knew was worth preserving. He proved this withWatina. And the world was just starting to join him.