Belizean Musician Andy Palacio Passes Away
January 19, 2008 - Andy Palacio, an iconic musician and cultural activist in his native Belize and impassioned spokesperson for the Garifuna people of Central America, died today.
Palacio, 47, was a national hero in Belize for his popular music and advocacy of Garifuna language and culture. Belize is in the midst of a heated election, but the local news was entirely dominated by Palacio's health crisis.
The reaction has also been strong around the world. Until the recent turn of events, the past year had been one of tremendous accomplishment for Palacio as his album Wátina, which was released at the beginning of 2007, had become one of the most critically acclaimed recordings of the year in any genre. Perhaps the most unanimously revered world music album in recent memory, Wátina appeared on dozens of Best of the Year lists in major media outlets around the globe and was roundly praised in glowing terms.
In 2007, Palacio was named a UNESCO Artist for Peace and won the prestigious WOMEX Award. Wátina was also nominated for the BBC Radio 3 World Music Awards. At home in Belize, the international success of Wátina has sparked a revival of Garifuna music, as young musicians have become inspired by Palacio's example. Even in the days since Palacio's health crisis began, the accolades have continued to pour in for his work.
That Palacio has been struck down at a moment of such international acclaim only increases the sense of shock and tragedy felt at his sudden and untimely death.
Andy Palacio will be honored with an official state funeral. A massive tribute concert is planned in Belize City on Friday, January 25th.
RootsWorld will have a more extensive article about Andy in an upcoming issue