Garifuna Musician Andy Palacio Dies at 47, Given BBC Music Award Posthumously

Andy Palacio 1960-2008

I had been meaning to check out Andy Palacio‘s record, Watina, ever since I heard his interview on Kurt Andersen‘s Studio 360. Think I’ll move that up on my list now.

Andy Palacio, a bandleader and songwriter who spearheaded a revival of the Garifuna music of Central America, died Saturday in his native Belize City, Belize. He was 47 and lived in San Ignacio, Belize.

The cause was respiratory failure after a stroke and heart attack, according to Jacob Edgar, president of his record company, Cumbancha.

In Belize, Mr. Palacio was nationally known as both a musician and an advocate for Garifuna culture. “Watina,” his album with the Garifuna Collective, was acclaimed as one of the best world music releases of 2007.

The Garifuna (pronounced ga-RI-foo-nah) are descendants of West African slaves who were shipwrecked in 1635 off the coast of what is now the island of St. Vincent and intermarried with local Arawak and Carib people. Garifuna villages arose on the coasts of Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Belize. There are now an estimated 250,000 Garifuna people worldwide, a minority culture under pressure from assimilation and coastal development. []

Read the press release on Andy’s passing from his record label, Cumbancha.

Also, in an unprecedented decision, the results of the Radio 3 Awards for World Music were announced months early and Andy Palacio was named the winner of the prestigious Americas Award.

A memorial will be held for Andy Palacio on January 27 in Chicago, IL at St. Anselem Catholic Church (see details above).

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