(Includes BIOGRAPHY) GARIFUNA Music Superstar AURELIO MARTINEZ Releases TWO NEW Music Albums. Is the Public Prepared for this Flood of Garifuna Musical Creativity?

 

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New York City, USA — International World Music Superstar, Garifuna Singer Songwriter Aurelio Martinez has released TWO NEW Music Albums and is currently touring the world exposing music lovers to his new sounds.

Upon listening to his new music over the last two to three weeks, I can only insist that music lovers need to be made aware of this fun, emotional, serious, compelling, catchy and irresistible new collection of songs from Mr. Aurelio Martinez.

"Conexion Caribe" by Aurelio Martinez Y Los Bravos Del Caribe.  -- 2014 by VA Records and Lita Ariran Records.

“Conexion Caribe” by Aurelio Martinez Y Los Bravos Del Caribe. — 2014 by VA Records and Lita Ariran Records.

Seconds into listening to Conexion Caribe (“Caribbean Connection” in the Spanish Language), the new album by Mr. Aurelio Martinez Y Los Bravos Del Caribe (“The Brave Ones from The Caribbean” in Spanish Language), it becomes apparent that not only is Mr. Martinez demonstrating his mastery over various styles of music, but that there is also a tension that comes with familiarity.  We’ve been here before and is there anywhere else we can go from here?   The drama thus becomes, can this artist soar above the well-traveled road?  Aurelio Martinez and his ace producers, VICTOR ARZU and IVAN DURAN, help him answer that question with style and gusto, culminating in a thrilling listening experience.

Garifuna Singer Songwriter, Aurelio Martinez on the right at his Summer Outdoor Concert at Lincoln Center in New York City in 2010.  Photo by Teofilo Colon Jr.  All Rights Reserved.

Garifuna Singer Songwriter, Aurelio Martinez on the right at his Summer Outdoor Concert at Lincoln Center in New York City in 2010. Photo by Teofilo Colon Jr. All Rights Reserved.

Part Troubadour, Part Politician as President of the Garifuna Music Nation, and Part Master of Ceremonies of one Fabulous Party; it’s fascinating to listen to the ever-shifting roles Aurelio Martinez takes on in these two new albums.  Listeners should brace themselves for a diverse collection of music that represents some of the most dynamic of sounds coming from Latin America and the Caribbean.

Garifuna Singer Songwriter, Aurelio Martinez during an impromptu and surprising duet with Singer Susana Baca during her set at an Outdoor Concert at Lincoln Center in 2010.  Photo by Teofilo Colon Jr.  All Rights Reserved.

Garifuna Singer Songwriter, Aurelio Martinez during an impromptu and surprising duet with Afro-Peruvian Singer Susana Baca during her set at an Outdoor Concert at Lincoln Center in 2010. Photo by Teofilo Colon Jr. All Rights Reserved.

The first album, Conexion Caribe (“Caribbean Connection” in the Spanish Language), features the music genres of Punta Rock, Paranda, Merengue, Bachata, Mambo, some Soca and perhaps Bolero.  From the hypnotic opening chords of “Conexion Caribe (Intro)”, with its haunting and insistent vocal ostinato “Aba mutu wagia…” (“We are one people” in the Garifuna Language), to the irresistibly danceable “Tidan Ligabana Muladu” (“In The Spanish/Mulatto One’s Bed” in the Garifuna Language), to the funny, electrifying and dramatic, “La Cuchara” (“The spoon” in the Spanish language) with its driving beat, are PUNTA ROCK songs destined to liven up a party and cause a stampede to the dance floor.

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The “Conexion Caribe” album also features songs like the tender, Paranda song “Barumuga Wawan” (“You Go To Sleep, Brother” in the Garifuna Language) which is sung as a lullaby(!!!), “Lumari Idudu” (“His Miskito Indian Spouse/Girlfriend” in the Garifuna Language), and “Ficu” which are sweet, adorable and charming Garifuna songs in the Paranda style.   I dare you not be moved by these songs.

Garifuna Singer Songwriter, Aurelio Martinez during an impromptu set at The BIKO Center in Brooklyn in 2011.  Photo by Teofilo Colon Jr.  All Rights Reserved.

Garifuna Singer Songwriter, Aurelio Martinez during an impromptu set at The BIKO Center in Brooklyn in 2011. Photo by Teofilo Colon Jr. All Rights Reserved.

The “Conexion Caribe” album also has ballads like the duet with Claribel Cruz, “Lo quieras o No” (“You Want It or Not” in the Spanish language), and the seductive “Dime Quien” (“Tell Me Who” in the Spanish language).  Here, Mr. Aurelio Martinez expresses Desire in what may be Bolero (to my ear) and the Bachata genres of music.  Beautiful.

International World Music Star, Garifuna Singer Songwriter, Aurelio Martinez.

International World Music Star, Garifuna Singer Songwriter, Aurelio Martinez.

Finally, the cheerful sounds of Merengue and Mambo are heard and FELT in the songs “Linda Miskita” (“Pretty Miskito Indian” in the Spanish Language), “Libre Como el Viento” (“Free Like The Wind” in the Spanish Language).  These songs will cause thousands to twirl and sway across dance floors and living rooms for decades to come.

Another noteworthy song on the Conexion Caribe album is Unamanos (“We Unite” in the Spanish Language),  which features Aurelio Martinez, Efrain Martinrez and El Sheriff on it.

Sadly, it appears that Mr. Aurelio Martinez does not have the resources to help push this latest musical effort.   As far as I can tell, not one music critic has reviewed this “Conexion Caribe” album nor has it been mentioned by the media as he tours the world performing before audiences.  When he does get press, his other album, “Landini” is what is focused on and emphasized.

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Aurelio Martinez’s “Landini” is a major, groundbreaking work, which I will write about in a moment.  However, it is frustrating to see the “Conexion Caribe” album be ignored.  It’s almost as if the album doesn’t exist!!!.  It’s important to remember that Mr. Aurelio Martinez is a music veteran who has written close to a hundred songs and has made many albums.  Hopefully, the attention Aurelio is receiving now can help shed light on past musical efforts that haven’t gotten the benefit of an established record label push.

Those interested in buying the Conexion Caribe on mp3 can buy it on ITunes and other digital outlets.   Click here for the ITunes link to the Conexion Caribe album by Aurelio Martinez Y Los Bravos Del Caribe.

"Landini" by Aurelio Martinez.  2014 by StoneTree Records / Real World Records

“Landini” by Aurelio Martinez. 2014 by StoneTree Records / Real World Records

There isn’t much to say about Aurelio Martinez’s other new album of strictly Garifuna Music,  “Landini” (“Landing” in the Garifuna Language) that isn’t already expressed beautifully by Mr. Banning Eyre of the Afropop Worldwide website.  1

In interviews, Mr. Aurelio Martinez has mentioned that for him, “Landini” is representative of his return to his Garifuna musical roots.  In Mr. Banning Eyre’s insightful review, he notes that Aurelio has “an uncanny knack for melding joy and sorrow with his vocal delivery. These are songs of hope and striving; you hear it in every note.” 2

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Not for nothing, Aurelio’s vocal talent and expressive genius has carried him throughout his music career.  There are moments both here and on the “Conexion Caribe” album where Aurelio’s mere inflections had me ask, “How does he do that?”.

Garifuna Singer Songwriter, Aurelio Martinez during an impromptu set at The BIKO Center in Brooklyn in 2011.  Photo by Teofilo Colon Jr.  All Rights Reserved.

Garifuna Singer Songwriter, Aurelio Martinez during an impromptu set at The BIKO Center in Brooklyn in 2011. Photo by Teofilo Colon Jr. All Rights Reserved.

In the songs, three of which were co-written by Aurelio’s mother, Maria Teofila Martinez Suazo, Aurelio Martinez plunges into many aspects of the Garifuna experience.  From “Sañanaru” (“I Can’t Handle Her” in the Garifuna Language), which gracefully examines the paradoxical nature of some close relationships (whether between lovers or even family members).

to “Nando” which chides unfaithful women who get into mischief while their men are at work, to a song like “Milaguru” (“Miracle” in the Garifuna Language) where Aurelio implores a ship’s captain to be careful while guiding his ship.  That song was inspired by the 1989 New Year’s Day Ferry Boat accident in Guatemala where many Garifuna people died.  It is considered the worst naval disaster in Guatemala’s history.  3

And let’s not forget the title song, “Landini” (“Landing Place” in the Garifuna Language), A song about one of the main meeting places in Aurelio’s birthplace of Plaplaya, Honduras; the river landing where villagers dock their boats. The song is a rousing meditation on the difficulties of making a living.

Needless to say, Aurelio’s ability to evoke many moods and feelings culminates in a stirring, soulful listening experience here.  Miss out on it at your own risk.  Those interested in buying the Landini CD can buy it on the Amazon.com website or other music retail websites.

Click here to go to the link to the Amazon.com profile of the Aurelio Martinez CD, Landini.

BIOGRAPHY of GARIFUNA Singer-Songwriter AURELIO MARTINEZ

Aurelio Martinez is a Honduran Garifuna singer-songwriter noted for his wide vocal musical (and emotionally expressive) range and athletic dancing style.  Blessed with an innate poetic sensibility, that along with Aurelio’s drive and ambition have served to birth an ever-flowing river of musical compositions.  In fact, he has written close to 100 songs in a professional musical career that spans over 20 years.

Aurelio was born in the Garifuna village of Plaplaya, Department of Gracias a Dios (Honduras), where he spent his childhood and part of his adolescence. His parents are also musicians: his father was a Paranda singer and guitarist and his mom is a singer Garifuna (Gayusa).  In addition to Aurelio’s parents being musical, his grandfather was a saxophonist.

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A Garifuna Music Prodigy, Aurelio Martinez was allowed to perform at Garifuna rituals like the Dügü or at Patron Saint Festivals at a very young age, despite not having any formal musical training.  Despite his lack of formal musical training, Aurelio grew up steeped in Garifuna culture, as well as Garifuna social and musical tradition.

At the age of fourteen (in 1983) Aurelio left his hometown of Plaplaya, Honduras to pursue his musical aspirations as well as an education.  Plaplaya is considered the easternmost Garifuna village in Honduras.  Because of the isolation (to this day, there isn’t working electricity there) of Plaplaya, Honduras, it has remained a Garifuna village that many Garifuna people are unfamiliar with.  Aurelio Martinez and Celeo Alvarez Casildo are Plaplaya’s most famous products of the town.

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In 1983, Aurelio went to the town/port city of La Ceiba, Honduras, which is analogous to a city in Honduras. In La Ceiba, Honduras, he was a member of The April 12th Folkloric Dance Troupe, where he was a percussionist and dancer.

A year later Aurelio moved to Danli, in the Department of El Paraiso, to join his first band, Mr. Vicente Blandon’s Mayan Band, LOS SAHILAS 4, where he played popular music of the day as well as merengue.  With this band, Aurelio began his musical career as a percussionist and then discovered that his talent went way beyond percussion.  At this point, Aurelio became a popular interpreter of songs professionally.

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In 1989, Aurelio returned to La Ceiba, Honduras, to become the co-founder of the theatrical troupe Colectivartes with Guillermo Anderson and Lucas Calderon.  At this time, Aurelio created the Garifuna Musical Group, LITA ARIRAN (“Rooster Blood” in the Garifuna Language).  With this LITA ARIRAN musical project, set out to reinforce the cultural identity of the Garifuna people through Garifuna music.  What Aurelio Martinez ended up with was an album that doesn’t get enough credit for its influence and its innovation.

The LITA ARIRAN album was a musical project where Aurelio Martinez recorded an album (the group was called Grupo Garifuna Honduras “Honduras Garifuna Group ”  The album was produced by his friend, Akira Tomita.

Lita Ariran. Grupo Garifuna Honduras.

Lita Ariran. Grupo Garifuna Honduras.

This ambitious LITA ARIRAN musical project helped make Garifuna music international.  It exposed audiences the world over to the mystery, magic and passion of Garifuna music.

Below is a special arrangement of the traditional Garifuna song Sandu Wuritu (“Black Saint” in the Garifuna Language).  It was filmed in August 1992 in La Ceiba, Honduras. It is on the LITA ARIRAN, Grupo Garifuna Honduras album.  On saxophone is Akira Tomita.  A friend of Mr. Aurelio Martinez who also produced this Garifuna music album.

Below is a music video from this project.  The song is entitled “Bugudura Wuritu” (“Black Turtle” in the Garifuna Language).  It was filmed in August 1993 in La Ceiba, Honduras.

Here is a live performance of the Garifuna songs Gunchey (Social Square Garifuna Dance by several couples at the same time.  Also a Garifuna music genre) and Sandu Wuriti (“Black Saint” in the Garifuna Language).  It was filmed in Triunfo De La Cruz, Honduras on February 8th 1994.

The LITA ARIRAN musical project helped make Garifuna music international.  They were the first Garifuna group to travel and tour in the Far East (Japan).  Below is an entire LITA ARIRAN concert in Tokyo, Japan.  It took place in La Foret Harajuku on March 21st 1994.  As opposed to a normal concert in a nightclub, this presentation of Garifuna culture was expressed theatrically.

NOTE: The Pioneering Garifuna Dance Company, Wanichigu Dance Group Inc also made quite an impression at around this time.  Perhaps this LITA ARIRAN project was influenced by their innovative theatrical presentation of Garifuna culture?

Punta Introduction

Miguirabanda (“Don’t Go” in the Garifuna Language)

Tagarigu Nanigu (“Heartache” in the Garifuna Language)

Taguara Iriu (“Song of The Cricket” in the Garifuna Language)

Talk With Audience, Introduce members of the LITA ARIRAN

Yurumei (“St Vincent Island” in the Garifuna Language) — Take Note of how the group theatrically conveys the trek from St. Vincent to Central America.

Wafanideran (“Our Flag” in the Garifuna Language)

Wanaragua (Masked Dance)

Don’t know the name of this song

Gunchey (Garifuna Social Square Dance)

Bugudura Wuritu (“Black Turtle” in the Garifuna Language)

Drumming, Aurelio solos on Garaun Drum, Dances

Culio

Punta

Reception after Concert

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The LITA ARIRAN musical project is noteworthy for its range and commitment to sharing as many different types of Garifuna music with listeners on a recorded format. In other words, it’s NOT just PUNTA or PUNTA ROCK, which are the Garifuna music genres that most people are familiar with.

"Songs Of The Garifuna," LITA ARIRAN.  Released and Distributed in 1994 by Japanese Electronics Company, JVC.

“Songs Of The Garifuna,” LITA ARIRAN. Released and Distributed in 1994 by Japanese Electronics Company, JVC.

Not only does it feature the Garifuna music genre of Punta, but it also has the GARIFUNA Music Genres of:

  • PARANDA
  • GUNCHEY
  • HüngüHüngü
  • WANARAGUA

As far as I know, this landmark album is the first Garifuna music album to feature so many different Garifuna genres on it.

This LITA ARIRAN Album was released in 1994 (according to the copyright notice on the CD) and called, “Songs Of The Garifuna”.  It was manufactured and distributed by Japanese electronics company JVC.   5

The song order is as follows:  (Descriptions of each song are from the liner notes of this album)

  • Bugudura Wuritu (“Black Turtle” in the Garifuna Language).  Punta Genre.
  • Tagarigu Nanigui (“Heartache” in the Garifuna Language).  HunguHungu Genre.  This traditional Garifuna song expresses the pointlessness of the criminal life and its inevitable conclusion in death.
  • Taguara Iriu (“Song of the Cricket” in the Garifuna Language). Punta Genre. This traditional Garifuna song where Aurelio describes his experience of listening to the voice of crickets by the riverside.
  • Yurumey (“St. Vincent Island” in the Garifuna Language). HunguHungu Genre.  This traditional Garifuna song is the unofficial anthem of the Garifuna people.  It describes the arrival of the Garifuna people to Honduras from St. Vincent Island.  Yurumey is the Garifuna word for St. Vincent Island.
  • Africa.  Paranda Music Genre.  Here, Aurelio Martinez describes his longing to visit Africa and encounter the true soul of the black races.  This song also includes a insightful and sly critique of blacks who do not know their roots.
  • Culiou (‘Lust” in the Garifuna Language.  Also a Specific Garifuna Dance).  Punta Music Genre
  • Yita.  Paranda Music Genre.  In the first verse of this traditional lullaby, the mother lulls the baby to sleep so that she can go in search of food.  In the second verse, she returns with bananas and sugar cane.
  • Dame Nouweni (“When I Die” in the Garifuna Language).  Here, Aurelio Martinez asks for the song to be sung when he dies so that he can go and join his beloved grandmother.  He says that although no one will be able to hear him singing in person any more, all that people need to do is to go to the town to hear his music.
  • Gunchey (Social Square Garifuna Dance Done By Several Couples, Also a Garifuna Music Genre).
  • Nirou Jigabu Nu (“What’s The Matter” in the Garifuna Language).  Paranda Music Genre.   Here, Aurelio Martinez laments the poverty of a mother who spends all her time in the fields and a father who expires in a tavern.
  • Miguirabanda (“Don’t Go” in the Garifuna Language).  Paranda Music Genre.  In this Garifuna folk song, a brother tells his sister that he is going to leave their village because he is fed up with everyone’s remarks.  In reply, the sister begs him not to go and leave her all alone.
  • Sandu Wuriti (“Black Saint” in the Garifuna Language).  Paranda Music Genre. The song begins with a description of the sadness of the sunset and the beauty of the sunrise.  The singer says he will return home and will beg forgiveness for his wild ways from the Black Holy Mother.
  • Wanaragua (Masked Garifuna Dance, Also a Garifuna Music Genre).

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Credited musicians on this album include:

  • Lead Vocalist, Guitar: Aurelio Martinez
  • Furumeiti Garawon (1st Garifuna Drum): Jose Calderon
  • Segundi Garawon (2nd Garifuna Drum): Jose Angel Martinez
  • Turtle Shell: Sammyr Martinez
  • Maracas, Conch Shell: Oscar Chavez
  • Chorus: Anselma Bernardez
  • Chorus: Alejandra Fernandez

There is another version of this LITA ARIRAN Album. Released in September 1995 by Ediciones Pentagrama, This version of the LITA ARIRAN album is longer, has a different song order as well as different musical and vocal arrangements of the Garifuna songs used in it.

"Lita Ariran" Group Garifuna De Honduras. (September 1995)

“Lita Ariran” Group Garifuna De Honduras. (September 1995)

Song List on this album:

  • Miguirabana (“Don’t Go” in the Garifuna Language)
  • Gunchey (Social Square Garifuna Dance Done By Several Couples, Also a Garifuna Music Genre).
  • Tigarada Mama
  • Yita Lenchitu
  • Sandu Wurity (“Black Saint” in the Garifuna Language)
  • Wanaragua (Masked Garifuna Dance, Also a Garifuna Music Genre)
  • Budugura Wuritu (“Black Turtle” in the Garifuna Language)
  • Tagarigu Nanigui (“Heartache” in the Garifuna Language)
  • Nacha
  • Yurumeyguie (“From St Vincent Island” in the Garifuna Language)
  • Nirou Jigabu Nu (“What’s The Matter” in the Garifuna Language)
  • Punta (Garifuna Dance)

I own the version of the LITA ARIRAN album on CD that was released in the year 2005 in the United States on William Tennant’s ALULA RECORDS.  This LITA ARIRAN album was titled, “Black Turtle”  and has the same songs and same song order as the “Songs Of The Garifuna” album.  However, each song on this version of the album album are approximately three to five seconds shorter.

Cover of "Black Turtle" LITA ARIRAN Album that was released in the United States in 2005.

Cover of “Black Turtle” LITA ARIRAN Album that was released in the United States in 2005.

The song order is as follows:

  • Bugudura Wuritu (“Black Turtle” in the Garifuna Language).  Punta Genre.
  • Tagarigu Nanigui (“Heartache” in the Garifuna Language).  HüngüHüngü Genre
  • Taguara Iriu (“Song of the Cricket” in the Garifuna Language). Punta Genre
  • Yurumey (“St. Vincent Island” in the Garifuna Language). HüngüHüngü Genre
  • Africa.  Paranda Music Genre
  • Culiou (‘Lust” in the Garifuna Language.  Also a Specific Garifuna Dance).  Punta Music Genre
  • Yita.  Paranda Music Genre.
  • Dame Nouweni (“When I Die” in the Garifuna Language).
  • Gunchey (Social Square Garifuna Dance Done By Several Couples, Also a Garifuna Music Genre).
  • Nirou Jigabu Nu (“What’s The Matter” in the Garifuna Language).  Paranda Music Genre.
  • Miguirabanda (“Don’t Go” in the Garifuna Language).  Paranda Music Genre
  • Sandu Wuriti (“Black Saint” in the Garifuna Language).  Paranda Music Genre
  • Wanaragua (Masked Garifuna Dance, Also a Garifuna Music Genre).

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In 1993, Aurelio joined Mr. Alfonso ‘Fonchin’ Flores’s, Los Gatos Bravos (“The Brave Cats” in the Spanish Language), one of the top commercial pop groups in Honduras at the time.  It was during this period where Aurelio was not only able to completely get to know the country of Honduras but also perform and travel abroad, like to Mexico’s prestigious Festival Cervantino. 6

Aurelio Martinez with the Honduran Music Group, "Los Gatos Bravos" ("The Brave Cats" in the Spanish Language).  Photo courtesy of losbravosdelcaribe.com

Aurelio Martinez with the Honduran Music Group, “Los Gatos Bravos” (“The Brave Cats” in the Spanish Language). Photo courtesy of losbravosdelcaribe.com

Aurelio Martinez was also able to perform and travel in The United States of America.  There, he had the opportunity to share the stage with such great artists like Venezuelan Salsa Singer OSCAR DE LEON, Salsa Queen CELIA CRUZ, Columbian Salsa Group GRUPO NICHE, Japanese Salsa Group ORQUESTA DE LA LUZ (“Light Orchestra” in the Spanish Language) and others at music festivals like the FESTIVAL CALLE OCHO / CARNAVAL MIAMI of Miami, in the United States.  7

Below is video of Aurelio Martinez singing as part of the Honduran musical group, “Los Gatos Bravos”.  The song is called, “Good Morning, Darling”.

In 1997, Aurelio decided to withdraw from the musical group LOS GATOS BRAVOS so that he could form his own band and here is where he brought together various musicians to form the musical group “Aurelio and His Band”, which evolved into LOS BRAVOS DEL CARIBE (“The Brave Ones of the Caribbean” in the Spanish Language).

The Band had it’s first concert at the Celebration of the 200th Anniversary of the Arrival of the Garifuna People to Honduras and Central America (on April 12th 1797). It was at this event, that Aurelio met friend and Belizean colleage ANDY PALACIO, who he would later partner with on a compilation music album featuring the Garifuna Music Genre of Paranda.

Garifuna Singer Songwriters, Andy Palacio and Aurelio Martinez.  Photo from Facebook.

Garifuna Singer Songwriters, Andy Palacio and Aurelio Martinez. Photo from Facebook.

The songs Aurelio composed for this event, 200 Años (“200 Years” in the Spanish Language), Fedu Ya (“Celebration, Here” in the Garifuna Language) and Ragubon Bawuri (“Grab Your Machete” in the Garifuna Language) were incorporated into Aurelio’s first PUNTA ROCK album, “Inocencia” (“Innocence” in the Spanish Language).   8

This album immediately made Aurelio one of the most important figures of Garifuna music from his community to the world.

"Inocencia" Aurelio Martinez Y Los Bravos Del Caribe.  (1998).

“Inocencia” Aurelio Martinez Y Los Bravos Del Caribe. (1998).

The Song List on this album are:

  • Ragubon Bawuri
  • Lita Ariran
  • Inocencia
  • Toba Gallu
  • Lumada Binu
  • 200 años
  • Coñaqui
  • Dime Quien (Balada)
  • Fedu Ya
  • Parranda Mix

In 1998, LOS BRAVOS DEL CARIBE were officially in business.  This band arose from the  cultural music project mentioned earlier called LITA ARIRAN / Grupo Garifuna Honduras.

Also in 1998, at the First Garifuna World Music Awards in the Bronx, Aurelio Martinez was awarded Best Interpreter of Garifuna Music and LITA ARIRAN was awarded Best Cultural Group of The Year.

Garifuna Singer Songwriter Aurelio Martinez making a speech while holding his award at The Garifuna World Music Awards in 1998 in New York City.  Photo courtesy of Facebook Page for Aurelio Martinez Y Los Bravos Del Caribe.

Garifuna Singer Songwriter Aurelio Martinez making a speech while holding his award at The Garifuna World Music Awards in 1998 in New York City. Photo courtesy of Facebook Page for Aurelio Martinez Y Los Bravos Del Caribe.

In the year 2000, Aurelio Martinez was one of the featured artists on the Garifuna compilation album, “Paranda: Africa in Central America”.  He is featured as a soloist on the song, “Tumari Tibarimu (“Her Son-In-Law Is Her Lover” in the Garifuna Language) and the popular, “Africa”.  He also duets with Andy Palacio on the song, “Lanarime Lamiselu” (“How Sad” in the Garifuna Language).

Paranda: Africa In Central America. Released by  StoneTree Records in Year 2000.

Paranda: Africa In Central America. Released by StoneTree Records in Year 2000.

Below is a video clip from an episode of the SPAIN Television Music Documentary Program, “Todo El Mundo Es Musica” (“All The World Is Music” in the Spanish Language).  The episode is entitled, “Honduras y Belice: La Aventura Garifuna”, (“Honduras & Belize: The Garifuna Adventure” in the Spanish Language).  This video clip features a duet between Aurelio Martinez and Andy Palacio called “Lanarime Lamiselu” (“How Sad” in the Garifuna Language).

If you notice, Garifuna Singer Andy Palacio talks about what made that Paranda album noteworthy.   In the video, Mr. Palacio explains,

” ‘Paranda’ (the StoneTree Records Compilation album) is a major accomplishment. Not only for Stonetree ecords, but for the Garifuna People.  Because that recornd embodies a permanent document of the works of a number of the greatest talents of the Garifuna music world.  What that has meant, especially for the young Garifuna person, is that now here is basically a textbook that they can carry with them and listen and continue to learn for yours to come.” — Andy Palacio

Some of those very same words could be applied to the LITA ARIRAN album, which didn’t get much, if any acclaim (and came out five years earlier).

Cuentos Y Leyendas. Aurelio Martinez Y Los Bravos Del Caribe.  Released in 2002.

Cuentos Y Leyendas. Aurelio Martinez Y Los Bravos Del Caribe. Released in 2002.

In 2002, Aurelio released his second album with Los Bravos del Caribe, entitled, “Cuentos Y Leyendas” (“Tales and Legends” in the Spanish Language).  9

This album contains the hit song, “Pompis Con Pompis” (“Booties with Booties” in the Spanish Language) a PUNTA ROCK song that remains popular to this very day.  It also contains the infamous song “Guiriga”, a controversial song that has angered some Garinagu due to a perceived slight to Garifunas from the Garifuna village of Santa Fe, Honduras.  This album also has the song “Banda” which sounds VERY similar to “Naguya Nei” popularized by Paranda King, Paul Nabor.

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Here is Aurelio Martinez performing, “Banda” at Symphony Space in Manhattan on SATURDAY, November 22nd 2014.

Below is a song list of the Cuentos y Leyendas album:

  • Cuentos y Leyendas (Intro)
  • Aguan
  • Pompis con Pompis
  • Tala Mitch
  • Parqueo
  • Carnaval del Caribe
  • Banda
  • Guiriga
  • Tortuga Negra (a Punta Rock version of the Lita Ariran song, Bugudura Wuritu)
  • Ella
  • Bronx

In 2004, Aurelio Martinez released his first solo album with StoneTree Records, an independent record label based in Belize, Central America.  This album is entitled “Garifuna Soul”

Aurelio Martinez's Garifuna Soul album.  (2004. StoneTree Records)

Aurelio Martinez’s Garifuna Soul album. (2004. StoneTree Records)

The songs on this album are:

  • Santo Negro (“Black Saint”) — featuring Lugua Centeno on vocals, this version of this Traditional Garifuna song has a different musical arrangement than what you find on the Lita Ariran / Grupo Garifuna Honduras and Lita Ariran / Songs Of The Garifuna albums.
  • Yau (“Uncle” in the Garifuna Language)
  • Newerun (“My Glass” in the Garifuna Language)
  • Tagarigu Nanigi (The Pain In My Heart” in the Garifuna Language)
  • Dügü (Sacred Garifuna Ceremony for the Dead)
  • Deme Nowen (“When I Die” in the Garifuna Language) — A Duet with Lugua Centeno, this traditional Garifuna song features a different musical arrangment than on the Lita Ariran “Songs of The Garifuna” Album
  • Yalifu (“Pelican” in the Garifuna Language)
  • Niraü Hagabu – (“Come, My Child” in the Garifuna Language)
  • Lumalali Limaniga (“The Sound of Silence” in the Garifuna Language)
  • Mala Mujer (“Naughty/Bad Woman” in the Spanish Language)
  • Tabari Dudu (Nicknamed “Dudu”)
  • Tili Bugudura (“The Turtle’s Tail” in the Garifuna Language).

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Here is Aurelio Martinez singing, “Lumalali Limaniga” (“The Sound Of Silence” in the Garifuna Language) at Carnegie Hall in New York City in 2011.

Here is video of Concert Highlights from a 2005 Aurelio Martinez concert at The Bliss Center For the Performing Arts in Belize City, Belize.

Songs performed in this video include:

  • Yalifu (“Pelican” in the Garifuna Language)
  • Tumari Tibarimu (“Her Son-In-Law Is Her Lover” in.the Garifuna Language) from the Paranda Compilation album.
  • Africa (from the Paranda Compilation Album).
  • Lanarime Lamiselu” with Andy Palacio (“How Sad” in the Garifuna Language) — From the Paranda Compilation Album

"Amor A Primera Vista". Aurelio Martinez Y Los Bravos Del Caribe.  (2006)

“Amor A Primera Vista”. Aurelio Martinez Y Los Bravos Del Caribe. (2006)

2006 marked the release of Aurelio Martinez’s third Punta Rock album with Los Bravos Del Caribe, and was entitled, “Amor A Primera Visda” (“Love at First Sight” in the Spanish Language).  10

The songs on Amor A Primera Vista include:

  • Amor A Primera Vista (Intro)
  • Amor A Primera Vista
  • Dinamu
  • Miskito Mix
  • Homenaje A Los Gatos Bravos
  • Sida
  • Parranda Mix 2
  • Gunchepunta  (a PUNTA ROCK version of the Gunchey song on the Lita Ariran “Songs of The Garifuna” Album)
  • Por esa negra
  • Cumbre Afro Continental
  • Corazon embravecido
  • Princess Diana
  • Perdoname
  • Hebela

2005-2009 Aurelio Martinez – Honduran National Congress

On November 27th 2005, during National Elections in Honduras, Mr. Aurelio Martinez was elected to be a representative to the National Congress of Honduras by the Department of Atlantidad, the first Garifuna or person of African descent in the country’s history.  11

During his term, Mr. Aurelio Martinez paused his musical career during his years as a legislator and politician so that he could focus on his goal to improve the standard of living for Hondurans and Garifunas.  He served one term in Honduras from 2005 through 2009, before leaving the political life to return to music, especially after the death of his friend, Garifuna Singer Songwriter Andy Palacio. In interviews, Mr. Aurelio Martinez has admitted that while his particular skill-set is not compatible with political life, he did accomplish a few things while serving as an elected official.

While in office, Mr. Aurelio Martinez arranged for the roads of Garifuna Towns, Triunfo De La Cruz, Corozal and Tornabe to be paved.  He also remodeled schools, did community work and collaborated with others on projects for the people of the Department of Atlantida.  12

By now, a pattern seems to emerge that can only be viewed in hindsight.  But Mr. Martinez releases albums both independently and through StoneTree Records.  The albums he releases independently are Punta Rock albums with other commercial music genres representative of Latin America and the Caribbean, whereas the albums on the StoneTree Record label are where one can find Aurelio Martinez and Producer Ivan Duran playing in the Garifuna Music Playground.

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In 2008, Aurelio Martinez was a recipient of a grant by luxury watch company ROLEX as part of the Rolex Mentor and Protege Arts Initiative, which pairs highly talented young artists from around the world with Great MASTERS in film, visual arts, theater, dance and music for a year of creative collaboration in a one on one mentoring relationship.  West African Afropop legend Mr. Youssou N’Dour was the mentor in this instance and he personally selected Mr. Aurelio Martinez to be his protege, inviting Aurelio to tour throughout the year of this Initiative (2008 through 2009).

Rolex Mentor and Protege Arts Initiative Participants (2008-2009), AfroPop Music Star Youssou N'Dour and Garifuna Singer Songwriter Aurelio Martinez.

Rolex Mentor and Protege Arts Initiative Participants (2008-2009), AfroPop Music Star Youssou N’Dour and Garifuna Singer Songwriter Aurelio Martinez.

Every two years, Rolex invites masters in dance, film, literature, music, theatre and the visual arts to provide individual guidance to gifted young artists.  In six disciplines, a senior artist (the mentor) agrees to foster and councel a young artist (the protege) for one year.  Previous mentors have included Martin Scorsese, Wole Soyinka, Julie Taymor, Pinchas Zukerman, Toni Morrison and other highly recognized figures in the arts.

In 2010, Aurelio Martinez released his fourth album with Los Bravos Del Caribe.  This one was entitled, “200 + 10 + 2”).   13

200 + 10 + 2 Album by Aurelio Martinez Y Los Bravos Del Caribe.  (Released in 2010).

200 + 10 + 2 Album by Aurelio Martinez Y Los Bravos Del Caribe. (Released in 2010).

Songs in his album are:

  • 200 + 10 + 2 (Intro)
  • Miskito Indian
  • Sandu Süti (Santo Caliente)
  • 200 + 10
  • Compañera de la Gallina (Español)
  • Africa (Punta Rock)
  • Nirau Higabu Nun (“Son, Come To Me” in the Garifuna Language)
  • Hebe (Basta Ya!)
  • Cuentos Y Leyendas 2
  • Amor de colegio
  • Lanangangien Bena
  • Miskitu Mix Life
  • Dayagu (Danza Parranda)

In 2011, Aurelio Martinez released his second solo album for StoneTree Records, entitled, “Laru Beya” (“by The Beach” in the Garifuna Language).

Laru Beya by Aurelio Martinez.  Released in 2011 by Stonetree Records / Sub Pop Records.

Laru Beya by Aurelio Martinez. Released in 2011 by Stonetree Records / Sub Pop Records.

Songs on this album include:

  • Lubara Wanwa (“Waiting For The Arrival of A Son” in the Garifuna Language)
  • Laru Beya (“By The Beach” in the Garifuna Language)
  • Yange (Nickname for Brother of Aurelio Martinez)
  • Weibayuwa (“Sharks” in the Garifuna Language).
  • Yurumei (“St. Vincent Island” in the Garifuna Language)
  • Ineweyu (“Dusk / Twilight” in the Garifuna Language).
  • Bisien Nu (“My Love For You” in the Garifuna Language)
  • Mayahuaba (“Don’t Cry” in the Garifuna Language)
  • Tio Sam (“Uncle Sam” in the Spanish Language)
  • Wamada (“Our Mutual Friend” in the Garifuna Language)
  • Nuwaruguma  (“My Star” in the Garifuna Language)
  • Ereba (“Cassava Bread” in the Garifuna Language).

Here is a short documentary on the making of the Laru Beya album.

While this particular blog posting may seem excessive, I can’t help but think of the significance of Mr. Aurelio Martinez’s musical career, which spans over 30 years.  He sings in a language few people know of, understand and even fewer speak–sadly, even by native Garifuna people.  Yet, he has managed to charm and entertain the world through his music art, while remaining the best known, living embodiment of Garifuna art and culture.  In New York City alone, he’s graced the stages of prestigious venues like Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and Symphony Space.  Not bad and quite an achievement.

The fact that he has done this in the rough and competitive world of the music business; and consistently generated an expressive musical output for the world to feast on, is something to marvel at.

International World Music Superstar, Garifuna Singer Songwriter, Aurelio Martinez on the cover of Folk, Roots and World Music Magazine, fRoots Magazine.   June 2011.

International World Music Superstar, Garifuna Singer Songwriter, Aurelio Martinez on the cover of Folk, Roots and World Music Magazine, fRoots Magazine. June 2011.

In addition to touring, this professional musician is also being subject to tribute concerts celebrating his over 30 years in the music business.  At press time, there’s one in New York City and another in Los Angeles being planned.  As the year 2015 unfolds, perhaps it’s time to reflect on a musical career as unique and as marvelous as Mr. Aurelio Martinez’s.  As far as I can tell, he hasn’t ever been honored by his native Honduras.  He has however, been honored in the United States.  In January of 2011, Mr. Aurelio Martinez was the recipient of a plaque by the Hometown Association of his native Garifuna Village of Plaplaya, Honduras.

(from Left to Right), Ana Casildo, Aurelio Martinez and Efiginia Guevara holding their awards from the Plaplaya Honduras Hometown Association in 2011.  They were at a fundraiser concert in the Bronx for the Plaplaya, Honduras hometown association.  Photo by Teofilo Colon Jr.  All Rights Reserved.

(from Left to Right), Ana Casildo, Aurelio Martinez and Efigenia Guevara holding their awards from the Plaplaya Honduras Hometown Association in 2011. They were at a fundraiser concert in the Bronx for the Plaplaya, Honduras hometown association. Photo by Teofilo Colon Jr. All Rights Reserved.

Of course, Mr. Aurelio Martinez Suazo isn’t the only person who serves as role of Garifuna Ambassador.  However, I struggle to think of another person or entity who has sustained a serious career for as long as he has and as of today, is STILL standing and still RELEVANT.  Can you?

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Perhaps it’s also time we as Garifuna people stop and take stock on what it is we truly value.  Garifuna music at times is used as a tool to encourage Garinagu to learn about Garifuna Language and Culture.  As we celebrate the career of Mr. Aurelio Martinez, a man who dared act as if Garifuna Language and Garifuna Culture is worth expressing, living and celebrating; perhaps it’s also time we look in the mirror and declare that Aye / Ayi (“Yes” in the Garifuna Language), Garifuna Language and Garifuna Culture IS worth cherishing.

ABOUT The Garifuna People


The Garifuna people are people of African descent (in other words, Black people) whose ancestry can be traced to Africans mixing with Carib Indians and Arawak Indians on the Eastern Caribbean island of St. Vincent.  From this fusion of race and ethnicities in St. Vincent Island, a distinct culture and language arose.  They are noted for being one of the few (only?) peoples of African descent (again, in other words, Black people) in the Americas to have maintained aspects of their ancestral culture and full use of their ancestral language for everyday use over the course of hundreds of years.

After being defeated in war with the British on St. Vincent in 1796; 1004 men, 1779 women and 1,555 children for a total of 4,338 people (mostly Black Caribs, as the Garifuna people were then known) were captured and taken to Baliceaux, a small island, a rock, basically, off the coast of St. Vincent.  This took place from July 1796 through February/March 1797.  About 2,000 Garifunas died of a mysterious and very infectious fever while living on Baliceaux awaiting their fate.   14

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In early March 1797, the remaining Garifunas were loaded onto the HMS Experiment and other ships.  Once they were rounded up, the convoy were taken to a Bequia, which is another island off the coast of St. Vincent. They proceeded to go to Grenada to get water, then Jamaica for refueling, then finally Roatan, Honduras, arriving on April 12th 1797.

Finding much of Roatan unliveable, the Garifuna people petitioned officials representing Spain and it’s government (which controlled much of Central America at the time) to be allowed to move to the Honduran mainland.  Upon being allowed to move to the Honduran mainland, namely the port town of Trujillo, Honduras in May 1797; the Garifunas settled many towns and villages along the Caribean coast of Honduras.  They also migrated to the neighboring countries of Guatemala, Belize (then known as British Honduras) and Nicaragua over the years.

If you find the BEING GARIFUNA Website helpful and useful, please DONATE. Every dollar donated helps keep this website in operation.  Donations are accepted through the PAYPAL website, so potential donations are SAFE and SECURE. 


Two New Aurelio Martinez Music Albums released in 2014.  Landini and Conexion Caribe.

Two New Aurelio Martinez Music Albums released in 2014. Landini and Conexion Caribe.

Notes:

  1. http://www.afropop.org/wp/20731/landini/
  2. http://www.afropop.org/wp/20731/landini/
  3. http://beinggarifuna.com/?p=213
  4. http://www.elheraldo.hn/alfrente/565428-209/los-hijos-del-maiz-le-cantan-a-danli
  5. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JVC
  6. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Festival_Internacional_Cervantino
  7. http://carnavalmiami.com/index.php/calle-ocho
  8. http://www.losbravosdelcaribe.com/albums/
  9. http://www.losbravosdelcaribe.com/albums/
  10. http://www.losbravosdelcaribe.com/albums/
  11. http://www.tse.hn/web/documentos/estadisticas_y_proce_elec/Elecciones Primarias 2008/Partido Liberal/01 ATLANTIDA.PDF
  12. Cheryl Thomas, “La Otra Cara del Embajador de la Musica Garifuna”, La Voz de Honduras, 2014
  13. http://www.losbravosdelcaribe.com/albums/
  14. Nancie L. Gonzalez, “Sojourners of the Caribbean: Ethnogenesis and Ethnohistory of the Garifuna” pg. 21

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