Black Atlantic: Aurelio (Garifuna/Honduras)
The Garifuna people, language, and culture transcend geographical borders. The Garifuna (or Garinagu) originated with a seventeenth-century shipwreck of plantation-bound Nigerians off the Caribbean island of St. Vincent. The survivors took shelter in Arawak communities, thus escaping slavery, but a series of forced migrations took them to the mainland, where they settled on a thin strip of coastline that stretches southward from Belize to Nicaragua. Garifuna music, epitomized by a shuffling rhythm dubbed the paranda and mingling the sounds of West Africa and the Caribbean, is upbeat and irrepressible, a lingering testament to survival. No one has represented that musical tradition with the same energy or appeal as singer, guitarist, and politician Aurelio Martínez.
Born into a musical family in the small Honduran coastal outpost of Plaplaya, Aurelio became his town's percussion prodigy before going away to school, where he began to develop the vocabulary that would help him revitalize Garifuna traditions. His deep, commanding voice and the rich, full sound of his band led to international attention and a collaboration with Afropop legend Youssou N'Dour that cemented his star status. Called "one of the greatest artists of Latin America" by the London Evening Standard and "a musical guardian of the Garifuna" by NPR, Aurelio has become a powerhouse performer of the highest order.