MusicUnitesUS presents: The Garifuna Collective

garifuna collectivePhoto/courtesy

The Garifuna Collective

A collective that is preserving the sounds and culture of Afro-Indigenous people from Belize and Honduras will join the Brandeis community for a concert and residency this fall.

Garifuna culture was forged when a ship carrying captive Africans wrecked off the coast of St. Vincent in the 1600's. The survivors swam ashore, mixed with the island's native Arawak population, and created a unique, resilient society of free people that successfully resisted European enslavement since before the founding of the United States. Their independent culture persists to this day in communities in Belize, Honduras, and neighboring nations, where their African-inspired language, customs and music are preserved and continue to evolve.

For more than 15 years, the Garifuna Collective has inspired a sense of pride in Garifuna culture throughout Central America, and helped fortify their Afro-indigenous tradition and spread awareness about Garifuna culture worldwide. The collective will join the Brandeis community from Oct. 24 to 29 for a cultural residency as part of the MusicUnitesUS program culminating with a concert at Slosberg Music Center on Oct. 29 at 8 p.m.

“The Garifuna Collective have created a unique sound rooted in the rhythms and melodies of their afro-indigenous tradition,” according to MusicUnitesUS Interim Director Ben Paulding. “Although grounded in the music of their ancestors, they are unafraid to incorporate an eclectic mix of contemporary influences, creating their own original contribution to the evolution of Garifuna culture. Their instrumentation includes vocals, lead guitar, rhythm guitar, and electric bass, playing on top of the deeply Garifuna percussion section of primero drum, segunda drum, maracas, claves, and turtle shells.”

The collective was founded after Belizean musician Andy Palacio visited neighboring Nicaragua as a young man and saw the Garifuna culture there had become virtually extinct. He vowed not to let his beloved Garifuna culture in Belize experience the same fate. Palacio later teamed up with music producer Ivan Duran to co-found the collective, which is designed to preserve Garifuna music and culture, and to promote it in Belize and throughout the world. 

Their debut album Wátina enjoyed critical acclaim, winning both the BBC and Womex World Music Awards, and thrusted Garifuna culture into the international spotlight of the world music industry. For more than 15 years, the Garifuna Collective has inspired a sense of pride in Garifuna culture throughout Central America.

MusicUnitesUS is a campus-wide program hosted by the Brandeis University Department of Music that includes intercultural residencies, public school outreach and a concert series. Its mission is to further the understanding and appreciation of diverse cultures through music. Since it was founded in 2004, MusicUnitesUS programs have highlighted musical traditions from Azerbaijan, Ghana, India, Korea, Peru, Syria and Turkey, amongst others.

The MusicUnitesUS residency runs from Oct. 24 to 29. A concert featuring the Garifuna Collective will be held Oct. 29 at 8 p.m. with a pre-concert talk at 7 p.m. in Slosberg Recital Hall.  Tickets are available online, via phone at 781-736-3400, or in person at the Shapiro Campus Center Box Office. The full residency schedule is available on the MusicUnitesUS website.

Categories: Arts, International Affairs

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