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Album Review

The native music of Belize is strangely hard to come by considering the proximity of the small Central American nation to the United States and the ready availability of music from other neighboring countries. Andy Palacio is perhaps the best known of the lot who has created some buzz outside of the region, and Watina is by far his highest-profile release yet. It's well worth investigating. Palacio is Garifuna, a Caribbean ethnic group that traces its ancestry back to the West African slaves who settled in the Caribbean during the 17th century. Emerging in the '90s, Palacio was at first affiliated with a Caribbean dance music movement called punta rock, but after an encounter with an elder in a Nicaraguan Garifuna enclave, he turned his attentions to the more acoustic, organic traditional Garifuna music displayed on Watina. It's a stirring, sweet, emotional sound, identifiably Caribbean — a touch of soca, a dab of reggae, a hint of Cuban — but equally African in nature in its rhythmic and melodic structure. Palacio sings gruffly in the native Garifuna language, which means that most will never understand the lyrics, many of which address the Garifuna life and the quickening disappearance of that very culture. But no matter, the music succeeds on its own terms, modern in its production and polyrhythms, yet unmistakably tied to local heritage.

Customer Reviews


As a proud Belizean, I had the pleasure of meeting Andy just a few months ago. Unfortunately, he died suddenly this past Saturday 1/19 from complications due to a stroke and heart attack. Andy was a great ambassador for Belize, the Garifuna people, their music and culture. He will be sorely missed. Now when we hear the thunder roll, we'll know that's Andy beating his drums in Heaven. R.I.P Andy, we miss you already but your spirit will always be alive and well in hearts through your beautiful music.

Accessible, authentic, magical, incantatory

This album is a must have, not just for lovers of world music, but for all music lovers. It is gorgeously crafted, often breath-taking, and incredibly soulful throughout. Andy Palacio's voice has matured with age and is at the finest of his career. Producer Ivan Duran manages to maintain a rootsy, intimate feel while using exotic instruments to create a full textured sound full of colour and life, making for an album that is accessible yet authentic. This album also has a magical, almost incantatory quality that makes it seem better with every listen.

Garifuna music is amazing!

I just got back from Andy's live concert in Austin, Texas (front row seat!!!). I had never known about the Garifuna culture or its music until I bought the tickets a couple weeks ago. The concert was absolutely phenomenal. I immediately bought this CD after the concert and Andy signed it for me. Really nice guy. This music is incredibly good, and Andy Palacio has the most amazing voice for it. This is pretty much the perfect album, really. If you like the samples, you WILL love the album. I would also recommend "Garifuna Soul" by Aurelio Martinez and anything by Paul Nabor that may be out there. They both performed at the concert with Andy, and they were also incredibly good. All of them, especially Andy, sing with so much heart. Garifuna music is some of the absolute best out there. Love it.


Born: 1960 in Belize

Genre: World

Years Active: '00s

To understand Andy Palacio and his place in the world music community, one must first understand the precarious position of his oft-forgotten Garifuna people. Two slave ships loaded to the gills with captive West Africans sank off the coast of St. Vincent Island in 1635, and when the survivors swam to shore, they were taken in and given refuge by the indigenous Carib peoples who lived there. The displaced Africans and hospitable Caribs lived and worked together, intermarried, and ultimately created...
Full Bio
Watina, Andy Palacio
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Customer Ratings