Honduran Musicians Abroad
Aurelio Martinez Suaso is a powerful, passionate, musical artist from Honduras. He went to London this past week at the invitation of Youssou N’Dour as part of a three-day multi-arts showcase, presented by the Rolex Mentors and Proteges Arts Initiative.
Martinez, of Garifuna decent, introduced UK audiences to exhilarating modernizations of the Garifuna traditions. These communal, percussion-driven, call-and-response styles represent some of the freshest, least-discovered sounds in the world of music. Aurelio created a festive atmosphere with fizzing guitar duels and Garifuna drum solos.
The Honduran artist comes from a small community in Honduras called Plaplaya, which is part of the Atlantida Department along the northern coast of Honduras. A musician already known to aficionados, his Garifuna Soul album of 2006 was highly praised. He writes lyrical songs with rhythmic bounce, accompanied by guitars, shakers and some powerful percussion on a pair of upright drums. He sings in the language appropriate to his community, but also has songs in Spanish, a detail that reflects the attempt to defend the identity of his heritage, an ethnic group still misunderstood by several countries.
The music of the Garifuna, a mixture of African and indigenous Indian music, was popularised by Belizean Icon, Andy Palacio, a cultural activist who died in January of 2008. Aurelio Martinez wrote a song in memory of his friend, and has tried following in his footsteps. The situation of poverty and precariousness at some of the Garifuna settlements in Honduras led him to enter the political arena. Martinez became a politician, and the first black senator in Honduras.
Guillermo Anderson is probably Honduras’s best-known musical artist. He and his band, Ceibana, are busy touring Japan for a few months. His music is based in the lively Caribbean port of La Ceiba, (not far from Aurelio Martinez’ community). Anderson mixes the Afro-Caribbean percussions with contemporary sounds, local rhythms, and folklore of Honduras’ coastal regions. Performances are spiced with the merging of Honduran Garifuna rhythms such as “Parranda” and “Punta” with better-known reggae, salsa and other Caribbean styles.
His concerts celebrate love, nature and everyday life in this part of the Caribbean. As more than an artist, Guillermo has played an important role in Honduras bringing awareness to important issues like the protection of the environment, health and literacy.
Guillermo Anderson and his band Ceibana have gained wide recognition and acclaim through their concert performances in North, Central and South America, Europe, Taiwan, and now Japan.