On the road with the extraordinary Music of Belize!

On the road with the extraordinary Music of Belize!

And a chance to be part of something very special

GC Ayo

 Our regular readers know all about our passion for the music of Belize. And given the breadth, depth, amazing diversity and sheer soul of Belize’s unique sounds, that should come as no surprise.

But what we do find surprising is that it hasn’t yet taken the world by storm. Sure, anyone serious about world music has some Belizean music in their collection, and it continues to slowly but surely gain more listeners around the planet, but why Belize’s music is not more popular remains one of life’s great mysteries.

So it was good news to hear that The Garifuna Collective was on the road in the US and Canada, where they’ve been playing to large sold out venues (Check out Belizean TV coverage at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hZ1sICisv80). The exposure they’re getting on this tour can’t help but to translate into greater awareness of their own unique sound, and Belize’s music in general.

Forgive the evangelical tone, but we’ve also just had a listen to Ayó, the latest recording by the GC and are still in that rather blissful state of hearing something new and wonderful from the Jewel.

It may have something to do with the fact that Ayó, which means “goodbye” in Garifuna, is a tribute to the late and in every sense of the word great Andy Palacio, who suddenly passed away in 2008 and left a void many of us still feel today. In addition to being an amazing musician, songwriter and electrifying performer, Andy was a cultural ambassador for Belize and in particular, his people, the Garifuna, so it’s only fitting that that this album should be full of wistful  energy, joy and soul.

But even for those unfamiliar with Andy and his music, there is something special about this album and the continually evolving Garifuna Collective. As producer and musician Ivan Duran points out in the liner notes:

“We are going back to the core values of the project, which is to present Garifuna music to the world, not in a traditional way, not in a museum, but as a living musical form. With Ayó you feel that spirit of being in the village with everybody singing along, everybody being a part of a song, not following a single singer or star. This album sounds like it was made by a band; there’s a group spirit that comes across more clearly than ever before.”

And it is spirit without borders, as all great music is. Little wonder these rhythms emanating from small villages along Belize’s Caribbean coastline have the power to move large crowds in Europe, North America and throughout the world. Even here in faraway Australia Ayó had us smiling and tapping our feet all evening. You can’t help it.

And while we’re not usually in the business of plugging albums or artists, it should be pointed out that organising a tour and getting a band like the GC on the road requires an almost superhuman effort. In addition to the many musicians, singers and crew there’s the large Garifuna drums and other specialised gear (have you ever tried to get a turtle shell percussion instrument through US customs?) so essential to the sound.

Don’t take our word for it – go to for a real eye opener and a chance to contribute to something extraordinary. If you believe that music joins people together and makes the world a better place, you owe it to yourself to have a look and a listen. You could even come away with a genuine Garifuna Segunda drum, or at least some music that is guaranteed to grow on you as time goes on.

Check it out – you’ll be glad you did.

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