It was January 2007, we had just landed on shore after some delightful sailing on board the Rum Punch II with George Eiley, when we bumped into our good buddy Ebbe Weile (and rock n’ roller extraordinaire) at the Sundiver Resort. It had been a hot sunny day, and while the rum punch was refreshing on the boat, we were still very much feeling the heat and humidity of that warm afternoon. Ebbe suggested we come into the air conditioned Mata Grande recording studio where Andy Palacio & The Garifuna Collective’s new, unreleased album Wátina, sat in it’s final cut – to cool down of course.

Andy Palacio - Wátina_frontWell, long story short, the “Play” button was pressed, and we were blown away. After a respectful two seconds of utter silence, we lept up from our seats and began dancing, rejoicing in the beautiful sounds coming from the speakers. The rich voice of Andy Palacio, the melodies of the Garifuna Collective, and the drums, oh the drums! It was a magical afternoon that remains a highlight of our careers at The San Pedro Sun offices (parent company to My Beautiful Belize).

In February 2007, the album was released, and the praise it received worldwide drove home the fact that yes, Belizean music – GARIFUNA music, was a thing of beauty and talent. Selected by as the Greatest World Music Album of All Time – over such greats like Bob Marley, Buena Vista Social Club and others, Wátina is the landmark album that will define greatness in Belizean music for years to come. Sadly, Andy Palacio passed away only a year after Wátina was released.

The Garifuna Collective however, have continued to make beautiful music, guided by Ivan Duran of Stonetree Records. Their album Ayó, which means ‘goodbye” in Garifuna, is a beautiful collection of sounds that continue to highlight wonderful Garifuna music and culture and will be available in stores on July 2nd.

On June 27th, Cumbancha Records via premiered the first video off the album with the song titled “Mongulu”.


Andy Palacio and the Garifuna Collective always worked hard to promote and celebrate the music, history and culture of the Central American Afro-Amerindian Garifuna community and now the group continues that quest with Belizean Wátina producer, Ivan Duran. Duran describes the intent and creation of the group’s new album, Ayó, releasing July 2nd via the superb “world” music label Cumbancha.

Garifuna Collective 6Ivan Duran: “Even during the recording of Wátina, nobody was sure if it was necessarily Andy’s record, but he kept on stepping up and being the voice for the project. The process of making that record was very similar to what we did with Ayó. Everyone was equal, and at the end of the day it truly was a Collective. What happens now is no, we don’t have that figure, but don’t want anyone to come in and be Andy Palacio. 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. When you listen to the record 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.”

Garifuna Collective is touring North America this summer, so if you are able to, be sure to catch their shows!

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About the Author: Mary Gonzalez

Mary Gonzalez writes under the pseudonym 'Tia Chocolate'. Tia Chocolate enjoys writing short stories that focus on her life growing up in the small Maya village of San Antonio, Cayo District, Belize.
Tia loves (and we mean LOVE) eating and writing about her food experiences, often times trying out new recipes to try and recreate the foods of her memories. She also loves to travel, indulging in the culture wherever she is privy to visit.
She is slave to a giant cat named Kitty Boo Boo, and her cooking exploits are enjoyed by her significant other, Pookie.

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