Andy Palacio strived to preserve the culture of the Garifuna people, an Afro-indigenous community exiled from their Caribbean island to Central America centuries ago by the British. He took punta, the Garifuna celebratory music rooted in drum and chant, added guitar and modern sensibilities, and created block-rockin' punta rock. His collective's 2007 Watina remains one of the most celebrated albums to have come from Central America. One year later, Palacio died young of a heart attack.
More than a decade since, The Garifuna Collective continues, carrying the legacy of Palacio and the Garifuna on their ever-rollicking shoulders. The band consists of the best musicians in this fertile scene and its lead singers reflect an intergenerational approach, women with striking voices and engaging personalities, whose songs echo with the joys and sorrows experienced during their lives.
They collect the deep cultural roots of Garifuna music, mixed with modern grooves, arrangements and instruments, blending electric guitar, bass, maracas, traditional conga-like drums and turtle shells. Voices rise and fall and shout out in soulful rhythms and an irresistible groove. Dancing is, of course, a critical part of the performance — as well as an inevitable part of how the audience responds. Their international success includes a Juno nomination for their collaboration with singer-songwriter Danny Michel. Andy would've been so proud.
Biography by Jason Markusoff