The Garifuna live along the coastline of Central America, and are descendants of slaves brought to work in the sugar plantations in the Caribbean--Carib, Arawak, and West African people. They have a very distinct language and culture which they struggle to maintain.
A few years ago, a Belizean singer named Andy Palacio released an album called “Watina.” The disc became a worldwide hit, with its beautiful rhythms and Palacio’s hypnotic voice. At age 47, he suffered a massive heart attack and died. This tragic event was devastating, and there was a fear that the “Garifuna sound” would disappear with the passing of Andy Palacio. Fortunately there appears to be a worthy successor.
Lloyd Augustine is now the lead singer of The Garifuna Collective. “Ayó” means “goodbye” in the Garifuna language, and this new release is a tribute to Andy Palacio. As with previous releases this CD is a celebration of the culture of these gentle people. One of my favorite tracks is “Beiba Nuwari (Go Away From Me),” an old, traditional song normally sung by women a capella whilst holding each other’s pinky fingers, this rendition is performed with a mixed choir. The opening and closing tracks are direct tributes to Andy Palacio, but the entire album features the everyday life and concerns of the Garifuna. “Aganba (Listen)” addresses the problems of AIDS, and “Gudemei (Poverty)” asks why people only remember God when they have problems, but not when all is well. If you don’t understand the words, the songs sound upbeat and danceable, so this is another triumph of victory over adversity.