On Friday 22nd June at the Institute of Creative Arts, the Belize International Jazz Festival, organized by the National Institute of Culture and History, held a tribute concert to honor Andy Palacio and Pen Cayetano for their contributions to Belizean music and culture. The festival, now in its fourth year, was dedicated to these two icons and lights of Belizean music and Garifuna culture.
Omolewa Ossain, Guayayo and Coco Bar, and The Garifuna Collective delivered three scintillating sets of music and original compositions worthy of these great men and their stellar and enduring contributions to Belizean life and music.
Belize’s Musical Ambassador, Shyne Barrow, presented the awards to these two Garifuna legends with a comprehensive citation of their unique and meaningful artistic gifts and achievements.
Pen Cayetano, the creator of Punta Rock with his Turtle Shell Band, introducing electrical instruments and the turtle shell to Punta to birth a new genre of music and what has become a national sound practiced by generations of Garifuna artists. With soulful songwriting and playing, he continues to be a living beacon of Garifuna culture and art, generously sharing his rich knowledge and creative talent with all from far and near who go to visit and experience his gift at his Dangriga studio and gallery, especially the youth, ensuring the survival of the culture.
Pen, also a visual artist of world renown, was awarded the Garifuna Music Lifetime Achiement Award earlier this year at the 2018 Garifuna Music Awards in New York. This living master is a light for the Garinagu and for Belize.
And to Andy Palacio, whose life dedicated to preserving Garifuna culture and language through music and whose career of fantastic songwriting and musical creation put Belize and Garifuna music on the international musical map with the release of his masterpiece album “Watina,” a project aimed at preserving and transmitting Garifuna culture, music and language, that culminated with his winning the 2007 Womex Award for best album in world music and then being appointed as a UNESCO Artist for Peace, Belize’s first and only such designation.
Andy, who died in 2008, continues to be remembered and his music lives on with his band, the Garifuna Collective, and in the hearts and minds of Belizeans everywhere. His son Kamau accepted the award on his father’s behalf.
Congratulations to N.I.C.H. and the Musical Ambassador for honoring our greats in this way.
To see the value within ourselves is the first step of national development. Pen Cayetano and Andy Palacio saw the value in themselves and the Garinagu and bravely acted on it to create beautiful and lasting legacies of creativity and excellence. It is a testament to their strength and vision, Garifuna duo and the spirit of Belize.