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New York City, New York, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2004 | INDIE

New York City, New York, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2004
Band Latin


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"Album Review (2011)"


The Garifuna people, descendants of survivors from a shipwrecked slave ship, maintain a language and culture that’s now thinly spread across the Caribbean coast of Central America. The Garifuna songwriter Andy Palacio preserved that culture through strategic fusions — with rock and pan-Caribbean music — until his sudden death in 2008. Aurelio Martinez, a songwriter, singer and former Honduran congressman who recorded with Mr. Palacio, picks up the torch on the album “Laru Beya” (Next Ambiance/Sub Pop), which extends the fusion back toward Africa. A mentorship program linked him with the Senegalese superstar Youssou N’Dour, and “Laru Beya” has guest appearances from Mr. N’Dour and other Senegalese performers. The songs are built on Garifuna rhythms with Senegalese embellishments, wah-wah guitars and community-minded lyrics, and they carry their sense of purpose with welcoming grooves. - New York Times

"Aurelio: A Musical Guardian Of The Garifuna"

From 2006 to 2010, singer-songwriter Aurelio Martinez served in the Honduran congress, where he championed the concerns of the Garifuna — a marginalized community descended from African slaves and Caribbean Indians. But Aurelio has turned back to music full-time, and with his band Garifuna Soul, he's just released a new album called Laru Beya.

Garifuna music has mysterious Afro-Caribbean roots, with West African rhythms, a Latin lilt and flavors of reggae and calypso. At the core is a unique language and poetic tradition, focused on the hard lives of disempowered people who live at the mercy of the sea. In "Weimbayuwa," Aurelio sings about sharks — his characterization of the politicians with whom he worked in the Honduran congress.

"Bisien Nu" features the veteran Senegalese band Orchestra Baobab on backing vocals. Aurelio has forged a special tie with Senegal, thanks to a corporate program that sent him there to mentor with Youssou N'Dour — arguably Africa's greatest living singer and bandleader. Aurelio and N'Dour mix it up together in "Wamada," recorded in memory of the late Garifuna star Andy Palacio.

Tasty Senegalese flavors are inserted throughout Laru Beya. But the album keeps its focus on Garifuna music, with its rolling rhythms and irresistible folk melodies. The language and culture of the Garifuna may be threatened in their home countries, but their music has achieved outsize recognition internationally. With his talent, vision, charisma and searing voice, Aurelio is a big part of the reason. - NPR


Aurelio Martinez–these days, just Aurelio–has been a major figure in Central American Garifuna music for decades. The Garifuna descend from escaped African slaves and Caribbean natives. They trace their origins to an 18th century shipwreck of the island of St. Vincent. Garifuna live in marginalized communities in Honduras, Belize, Nicaragua and Guatemala. Their language is vanishing. Their African derived religion–dügü–is largely clandestine. There are few of the old paranda troubadours, like Aurelio’s father. Garifuna rhythms survive in watered down form in punta rock songs, but elders feel that the old culture is disappearing before their eyes.

All this has been preamble to the careers of Aurelio and his Belizian friend and colleague, the late Andy Palacio. Aurelio is a gifted singer, guitarist, and songwriter. His 2004 release Garifuna Soul made Afropop’s top ten list that year. After that, Aurelio spent four years in the Honduran congress, advocating for his people in the political sphere. Now he has returned to music full time with a new release called Laru Beya (On the Beach). Banning Eyre caught up with Aurelio in Bronx recently. The singer has been spending time in the New York area to work on English (his third language) and be near his mother, who lives in Brooklyn. Here’s their conversation. Aurelio’s English is imperfect, but you’ll get his meaning. - Afropop Worldwide


Garifuna Soul, 2004
Laru Beya, 2011
New album coming in Fall 2014



Born in the tiny coastal hamlet of Plaplaya on Honduras Caribbean coast, Aurelio Martinez, 39, may be one of the last generations to grow up steeped in Garifuna tradition. These traditions encompass the African and Caribbean Indian roots of his ancestors, a group of shipwrecked slaves who intermarried with local natives on the island of St. Vincent, only to be deported to the Central American coast in the late eighteenth century.  Aurelio's group features: Gitarre on Percussion, Emilio Alvarez on bass, Eduardo "Guayo" Cedeno on guitar, and Angel Bernandez and Onan Castillo on Garifuna drums.

Following in the footsteps of the legendary Parranderos from the Caribbean coast of Central America, with an enchanting blend of African and Latin acoustic roots, Aurelio emerges as one of the most exceptional Garifuna artists of his generation. Acclaimed for both his preservation and modernization of the Paranda musical tradition, Aurelio's virtuosity is found in his distinctive, penetrating vocals and his talent as a composer.

Here is a link to the stream of Aurelio's new album (to be released Fall 2014):

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